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Socrates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
 9781351899093, 1351899090

Table of contents :
Cover
Half Title
Title
Copyright
Contents
Foreword
Contributors
List of figures
Introduction: the nineteenth- and twentieth-century Socrates
1. Socrates in Hegel
2. A simple wise man of ancient times: Kierkegaard on Socrates
3. Nietzsche's Socrateases
4. Later views of the Socrates of Plato's Symposium
5. Anselm Feuerbach's Das Gastmahl des Platon
6. From amor Socraticus to Socrates amoris: Socrates and the formation of a sexual identity in late Victorian Britain
7. The thorn of Sokrates: Georg Kaiser's Alkibiades Saved and Bertolt Brecht's Sokrates Wounded. 8. 'Socrates knew . . .' affect (Besetzung) in Britten's Death in Venice9. Effacing Socratic irony: philosophy and technê in John Stuart Mill's translation of the Protagoras
10. Totalitarian Socrates
11. 'Gadfly in God's Own Country': Socrates in twentieth-century America
General bibliography
Index.

Citation preview

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SOCRATES, IN THE NINETEENTH AND TWENTIETH CENTURIES

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Centre For Hellenic Studies King’s College London Publications 10

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SOCRATES IN THE NINETEENTH AND TWENTIETH CENTURIES

edited by

Michael Trapp

First published 2007 by Ashgate Publishing

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Published 2016 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017, USA

Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business Copyright © 2007 Michael Trapp The editor has asserted his moral right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the editor of this work.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Notices.. Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Socrates in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. – (Publications for the Centre for Hellenic Studies, King’s College London) 1. Socrates – Influence 2. Plato. Symposium 3. Socrates – In literature 4. Philosophy – History – 19th century 5. Methodology – History 6. Philosophy in literature 7. Political sicence – Philosophy – History I. Trapp, Michael B. II. King’s College (University of London). Centre for Hellenic Studies. 183.1 US Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Socrates in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries / edited by Michael Trapp. p. cm. – (Publications for the Centre for Hellenic Studies, King’s College London) Includes biographical references and index. ISBN 978–0–7546–4123–0 (alk. paper) 1. Socrates. I. Trapp, Michael. B317.S6182 2007 183'.2–dc22 Typeset by W.M. Pank, King’s College London.

ISBN 9780754641230 (hbk)

THE CENTRE FOR HELLENIC STUDIES, KING’S COLLEGE LONDON, PUBLICATIONS 10

2006033455

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H. Daumier, Socrate chez Aspasie (Histoire Ancienne, Le Charivari 5 June 1842: cf. Lucian, Dance 25).

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~ Taylor & Francis

~ Taylor & Francis Group http://tayl ora ndfra ncis.com

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Contents

Foreword Judith Herrin, Michael Trapp

ix

Contributors

xi

List of figures

xiii

Introduction: the nineteenth- and twentieth-century Socrates Michael Trapp

xv

1.

Socrates in Hegel Glenn W. Most

2.

A simple wise man of ancient times: Kierkegaard on Socrates George Pattison

19

3.

Nietzsche’s Socrateases Michael Silk

37

4.

Later views of the Socrates of Plato’s Symposium James Lesher

59

5.

Anselm Feuerbach’s Das Gastmahl des Platon John Henderson

77

6.

From amor Socraticus to Socrates amoris: Socrates and the formation of a sexual identity in late Victorian Britain Alastair Blanshard

7.

1

The thorn of Sokrates: Georg Kaiser’s Alkibiades Saved and Bertolt Brecht’s Sokrates Wounded John J. White

8.

‘Socrates knew . . .’ affect (Besetzung) in Britten’s Death in Venice Christopher Wintle

9.

Effacing Socratic irony: philosophy and technê in John Stuart Mill’s translation of the Protagoras Alexandra Lianeri

vii

97

119 141

167

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CONTENTS

10.

Totalitarian Socrates Iskra Gencheva-Mikami

11.

‘Gadfly in God’s Own Country’: Socrates in twentieth-century America Melissa Lane

187

205

General bibliography

227

Index

231

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Fore word

This volume and its companion, Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment,1 appear as the ninth and tenth in the Ashgate series of Publications for the Centre for Hellenic Studies, King’s College London. They arise from the Centre’s conference Images and Uses of Socrates from Antiquity to the Present, which was held in the College’s Franklin-Wilkins Building on 18–21 July 2002. The idea for the conference in its turn came from the Editor’s experiences in teaching a King’s College London undergraduate course on the reception and use of Socrates; he remains amazed and delighted at the generosity with which the Centre has encouraged and supported the development of the original, sketchy plan through all its subsequent stages. The burden of organization was shared between the Editor and Judith Herrin, then Director of the Centre, who looked after fundraising, finance and logistics. Financial and other forms of assistance came the A.G. Leventis Foundation, the Hellenic Foundation, the London Hellenic Society, the Gilbert Murray Trust, the Hellenic Foundation for Culture, the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, the Joint Association of Classical Teachers, the King’s College London School of Humanities, and the Department of Classics. It is a pleasure to have this opportunity of renewing our thanks to all these bodies. Descendants of all but one of the papers delivered appear in one or the other of the two volumes; two more – on the early Christian Socrates and on Kierkegaard’s Socrates – were specially commissioned. The conference itself was opened by the then Principal of King’s College London, Professor Arthur Lucas, from behind an appropriately Socratic beard. Sessions not chaired by another of the speakers or one of the Organizers were kept in order by Charles Burnett (Warburg Institute, London), Christopher Taylor (Corpus Christi College, Oxford), Mark Ledbury (Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA), Roddy Beaton (King’s College London), Oswyn Murray (Balliol College, Oxford), Ingo Gildenhard (King’s College London) and Malcolm Schofield (St John’s College, Cambridge); Peter Adamson’s paper was read for him in his absence by Martin Stone (Katholieke Universiteit 1

Ed. M.B. Trapp, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006.

From Socrates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, ed. M.B. Trapp. Copyright © 2007 by M.B. Trapp. Published by Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Gower House, Croft Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 3HR, UK. ix

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FOREWORD

Leuven). Two additional conference events combined civilized entertainment with extra Socratic content: a reception in the Hellenistic and Roman Gallery of the British Museum, hosted by Ian Jenkins and Thorsten Opper, with a presentation of the Museum’s Socrateses; and a recital, of Erik Satie’s Socrate and Benjamin Britten’s setting of Hölderlin’s Sokrates und Alkibiades, given by Anne Jones, accompanied by David Gostick.2 Administrative support throughout the conference – from photocopying to securing flowers for the recitalists – was provided by Jason Pelplinski, with Melanie Vasilescu assisting with registrations on the first day. All these contributions too are gratefully remembered. For help in the preparation of the printed version, the Editor would like to thank the authors for their patience in responding to his comments (and in putting up with the slowness of his progress), and their efficiency in securing illustrations and the attendant permissions; Alice Sanford and Tiffiany Newsome for editorial work on references and bibliography; Elizabeth McGrath and the staff of the Photograph Collection at the Warburg Institute, London, for further help with illustrations; the Department of Classics for a generous contribution towards production costs; John Smedley of Ashgate for his patient and helpful answers to a string of tiro’s questions; and above all Wendy Pank, academic publications officer in the King’s College London School of Humanities, who put the whole of both volumes into proper electronic format for the publisher. Judith Herrin Michael Trapp

2

At time of writing, the original conference programme is still available for consultation on the KCL School of Humanities website, at www.kcl.ac.uk/hrc/soccon.html.

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Con tributors

Alast air Bl ans hard is a lecturer in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Sydney. He is the author of Hercules: scenes from a heroic life (2005), and of articles and book-chapters on Greek oratory, literature and history, and nineteenth-century sexual attitudes. Iskra Ge nc he va - Mi ka mi was Assistant and then Associate Professor in Roman History and Late Antiquity at the University of Sofia ‘St Climent Ohridski’ and the New Bulgarian University, Sofia (1993–2001). She is currently a visiting professor at the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Tokyo and a Lecturer at the Kokushikan University, Toyko. She has published on various aspects of Roman imperial bureaucracy, and on the illustrations to the Notitia dignitatum. Jo hn He nd erso n is Professor of Classics and Fellow of King’s College in the University of Cambridge. His most recent books are Morals and Villas in Seneca’s Letters: places to dwell (2004), The Roman Book of Gardening (2004), Aesop’s Human Zoo (2004) and The Triumph of Art At Thorvaldsens Museum (2005). Meliss a La ne is University Senior Lecturer in History and Fellow of King’s College in the University of Cambridge. She is the author of Method and Politics in Plato’s Statesman (1998); Plato’s Progeny: how Socrates and Plato still captivate the modern mind (2001); and other work on ancient and modern philosophy, including a new introduction for the forthcoming Penguin edition of Plato’s Republic. Jam es Les her is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Maryland. His published work on Socrates and Plato includes The Greek Philosophers: Selected Greek texts from the Presocratics, Plato, and Aristotle (1998); ‘Gnôsis and epistêmê in Socrates’ Dream in the Theaetetus’, Journal of Hellenic Studies, 84 (l969), 72–78; ‘Theistic Ethics and the Euthyphro’, Apeiron, 9 (l975), 24– 30; and ‘Socrates’ Disavowal of Knowledge', Journal of the History of Philosophy, 25 (l987), 275–88. Alex a ndra Lia neri is Moses and Mary Finley Research Fellow at Darwin College, Cambridge. She is co-editor of Translation and ‘the Classic’ xi

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CONTRIBUTORS

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(forthcoming, with Vanda Zajko) and has published articles and chapters on the theory and politics of translation. Glenn W. Most is Professore Ordinario di Filologia Greca at the Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, and Visiting Professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. He has published widely on many aspects of ancient and modern literatures, the history of scholarship and thought, and the classical tradition. His most recent books are Re-presenting Virgil (ed., 2004), Doubting Thomas (2005), an edition and translation of Timpanaro’s Genesis of Lachmann’s Method (2005), and the new Loeb Hesiod (2006). Georg e Pa ttis o n is Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity in the University of Oxford. His most recent books are Kierkegaard, Religion and the Nineteenth Century Crisis of Culture (2002), Kierkegaard’s Upbuilding Discourses: philosophy, literature and theology (2002), A Short Course in Christian Doctrine (2005) and The Philosophy of Kierkegaard (2005). Mic hael Sil k is Professor of Greek Language and Literature at King’s College London. He has published widely on ancient Greek literature, literary theory, and Nietzsche’s aesthetics. His most recent books are Aristophanes and the Definition of Comedy (rev. ed., 2002), Alexandria, Real and Imagined (ed., with A. Hirst, 2004) and Homer: the Iliad (2nd. ed., 2004). Mic hael Tra p p is Professor of Greek Literature and Thought at King’s College London. His most recent publications are Greek and Latin Letters: an anthology (2003) and Ethics, Politics and Society in the Philosophy of the Roman Empire (2007). Jo hn J. White is Emeritus Professor of German and Comparative Literature and Senior Research Fellow in German at King’s College London. He has published widely on German literature from Romanticism to the present, editing volumes on Gruppe 47, Grass, Kafka, Mann and Musil, and is the author of Literary Futurism (1990), Brecht’s ‘Leben des Galilei’ (1996) and Bertolt Brecht’s Dramatic Theory (2004). Christ o p her Wi ntl e is Senior Lecturer in Music at King’s College London. He has published extensively on seventeenth- to twentieth-century music theory and analysis, and on nineteenth- and twentieth-century opera; he is co-editor of Hans Keller’s Essays on Music (1994), The Jerusalem Diary (2001), and Music and Psychology (2003).

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List of figures

Frontispiece: H. Daumier, Socrate chez Aspasie (Histoire Ancienne, Le Charivari 5 June 1842: cf. Lucian, Dance 25). Photo: Warburg Institute. Fig. 4.1

Fig. 4.2

Fig. 4.3

Fig. 5.1

Fig. 5.2

Fig. 5.3

Fig. 6.1

Fig. 8.1

v

J-L. David, Socrate et Diotime. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art. Image © Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art.

74

A.J. Carstens, Alcibiades crowns Socrates at the Symposium (1793). Copenhagen: ThorvaldsenMuseum.

75

Engraving after A. Canova, Socrates rescuing Alcibiades at the Battle of Potideia (1797).

76

A. Feuerbach (1860–6). Colour sketch for Das Gastmahl (First version). 1.0 x 5.5 m. Privately owned [= Keisch (1992) 79, Katalog no. 82].

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A. Feuerbach (1869). Das Gastmahl (First version). 2.95 x 5.98 m. Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe [= Keisch (1992) 15].

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A. Feuerbach (1871–4). Das Gastmahl (Second version). 4.0 x 7.5 m. Nationalgalerie, Berlin A I 279 [= Keisch (1992) 28–9, Katalog no. 119].

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Drawing by Paul Avril, engraved by T. Fillon, for a 1906 Paris edition of F.K. Forberg’s Manuel d'érotologie classique (= De Figuris Veneris). Benjamin Britten, Death in Venice (1973), Act I, Scene 7, orchestral score: Tadjio’s choral dance.

xiii

117

158–9

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Fig. 8.2

Fig. 8.3

Fig. 8.4

Fig. 8.5

Fig. 8.6

Fig. 10.1

LIST OF FIGURES

Benjamin Britten, Death in Venice (1973), Act I, Scene 7, the climax of Aschenbach’s aria: ‘then Eros is in the Word’.

160

Benjamin Britten, Sechs Hölderlin-Fragmente (1958), song no. 3, ‘Sokrates und Alcibiades’.

161

Benjamin Britten, Death in Venice (1973): piano rehearsal score. Aschenbach’s ‘Socrates’ recitative and aria, versions 1 and 2 (reproduced by kind permission of the Britten-Pears library).

162–3

Benjamin Britten, Death in Venice (1973): piano rehearsal score. Aschenbach’s ‘Socrates’ recitative and aria, version 3 (reproduced by kind permission of the Britten-Pears library).

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Benjamin Britten, Death in Venice (1973) vocal score. Aschenbach’s ‘Socrates’ recitative and aria: cadenza and subsequent interlude.

165–6

The prison of Socrates; from Platonis Apologia Socratis 1941.

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Fig. 10.2

The face of Socrates; from Tacheva et al. 1980.

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Fig. 10.3

The face of Socrates; from Vorontzov 1976.

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Fig. 10.4

The face of Socrates; from Chamoux 1979.

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Fig. 10.5

The face of Socrates; from El’vova 1985.

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Intr oducti on: the n ineteen th - and twen tieth-cen tur y S ocrates Michael Trapp This volume documents and discusses a range of uses of, approaches to and engagements with the figure of Socrates, in philosophy, creative writing, political debate, music and visual art, from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the second half of the twentieth, focusing both on themes in his reception and appropriation, and on individual texts and appropriators. As with the companion volume, Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment,1 there are inevitably many gaps; neither book should be mistaken for a complete and systematic survey. In particular, very little will be said here about the large and important topic of Socrates as an exemplar of philosophical and scientific method, as encountered for instance in the thought of Comte and Grote in the nineteenth century, and of Karl Popper in the twentieth.2 What this volume, like its companion, hopes to do is to combine focused examination of selected portions of the whole field with hints and glances at the remainder. In this spirit, the first three chapters explore three great, and lastingly influential encounters that span the nineteenth century, all extraordinarily intense and provocative and, despite their diversity and individuality, at one in seeking to locate Socrates at some crucial point in a grand scheme of understanding (historical, spiritual, epistemological): those of the titanic figures of Hegel, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. The next five chapters take up topics arising from the portrayal of Socrates’ career, opinions, personality and associations in the richest and most persuasive of all the early evocations, Plato’s Symposium. A general discussion of literary and visual appropriations of the dialogue’s characters and ideas is followed by treatments of Socratic love in the nineteenth century, Anselm Feuerbach’s visualisation of Agathon’s victory party, and – in the twentieth century – the Socratic presence in Georg Kaiser’s Der gerettete Alkibiades, Bertolt Brecht’s Der verwundete Sokrates, and Benjamin Britten’s Death in Venice. Socrates’ slippery, ambiguous relations with Alcibiades emerge as a major focus in these 1 2

Ed. M.B. Trapp, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007. Cf. Turner 1981, 283–309; Popper 1945, 128–33, 189–94 (etc).

From Socrates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, ed. M.B. Trapp. Copyright © 2007 by M.B. Trapp. Published by Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Gower House, Croft Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 3HR, UK. xv

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MICHAEL TRAPP

chapters, but one that is itself equivocal, problematising martial heroics as readily as erotic and pedagogical connections; in the field of erotics, moreover, the influence of the Phaedrus is not surprisingly often felt alongside that of the Symposium. The last three chapters turn to political concerns, examining uses of Socrates and Socratic material in nineteenthcentury British liberalism, post-war Bulgaria, and twentieth-century American debates over culture, intellectual freedom, and civil rights. Seen in the perspective of the long-term story of reactions to Socrates, and manipulations of Socratic data, there is nothing in this collection of material that marks a wholly new departure. All the approaches documented here have roots and a prehistory in earlier engagements and reactions, stretching back through the Enlightenment to the Renaissance and Medieval periods, and indeed to antiquity itself (some of which are illustrated and discussed in the companion volume). The nineteenth- and twentieth-century writers, thinkers and artists under discussion must be seen as reacting to this diverse accumulation, with all its provocative untidiness and disagreements, as well as directly to the Socrates of the oldest ancient sources. When Hegel and Nietzsche, each with his own distinctive slant, and in the context of his own grand narrative, treat Socrates as an epoch-maker and turning-point, they are picking up on an identity that goes all the way back – in the surviving record – to Cicero’s celebrated presentation of him in the Tusculan Disputations, as the man who ‘called philosophia down from the heavens’, diverting the flow of philosophical energy from physics to ethics, and thus discovering philosophia’s true identity.3 Similarly, Hegel’s focus on Socrates’ spiritual and civic alienation from the city of Athens puts a new spin on a perception first formulated by Plato in the Apology and Gorgias, and much discussed in the eighteenth century (though neglected by the Florentine humanists).4 Nietzsche’s indignant fascination with his physical ugliness resumes another line from Plato and Xenophon;5 and it centres on a story – that of the encounter with Zopyrus – which had been many times retold from Cicero and Eusebius, and had already been of special concern to seventeenth- and eighteenth-century physiognomic writing.6 Socrates’ military career, revisited by Kaiser and Brecht, is made a topic already in Athenaeus’s Deipnosophists (5.215e-216c), picking up on the still earlier work of Herodicus of Seleucia (c2 B.C.), and had been the subject of heroic depictions in late 3

Tusc. 5.4.10–11, cf. Academics 1.4.15–16. This idea of Socrates as a cardinal point in philosophical history feeds on, but is not wholly determined by, Plato’s and (especially) Xenophon’s accounts of his aversion to physics (Xen. Mem. 1.1.11–16, Plato Phaedo 96a–99d); Cicero must have inherited it from one of his Greek sources, rather than minting it for himself, but its place of first formulation cannot now be established. 4 See Macgregor Morris and Hankins in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. 5 The base texts are Xen. Sympos. 5, Plato Sympos. 215ab, Theaet. 143e. 6 See Trapp (ch. 4) and McLean in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment.

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eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century art.7 And, most obviously and spectacularly of all, the question of Socrates’ erotic beliefs and practices had been a constantly recurring concern from Plato through Maximus of Tyre, Athenaeus and Porphyry, Bruni and Ficino, and seventeenth-century drama, journalism and pornography, to Voltaire, Laclos and de Sade.8 At the same time, few or none of the treatments and appropriations considered in this volume could easily be mistaken for the product of any earlier period. However elaborate the back-history, each Socratic topic or theme is given a distinctively nineteenth or twentieth-century turn, often in a strongly personal, even idiosyncratic manner. Socrates continues to be good to think about and to argue with or through afresh, and he changes with the changed problematics and contexts into which he is re-introduced. A particularly striking illustration is again provided by his involvements in argument over erotics and sexuality. The homoerotic orientation of ‘Socratic (or ‘Platonic’) love’ could indeed be constituted as a problem, and a locus for working out concerns over the phenomenon as a whole, in the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods.9 But as a particular determination of the general issue of Socrates and the erotic, it had to jostle for space and attention with concern over the intensity rather than the direction of Socratic urges,10 and with (often amused and satirical) interests in his heterosexual entanglements.11 It is only with the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – with individuals such as Symonds, Ulrichs, Hirschfeld and Wilde – that same-sex orientation comes to seem unquestionably the most interesting fact about Socratic erotics, and that he is drafted into the (new) project of articulating homosexual self-identity, and pleading for – or demanding – its toleration by society at large.12 7

For Canova and Basin, see Lesher in this volume, and Geiger in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. 8 For some of which, see Trapp (ch. 4), Hankins and Goulbourne in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. To the texts cited there, add: N. Chorier, L’Académie des dames (Geneva, 1680 = tr. of Anon. [N. Chorier?], Johannis Meursii Elegantiae Latini Sermonis, seu Aloisia Sigea Toletana De arcanis amoris et Veneris [1658/9]), ed. M. Camus in L’Enfer de la Bibliothèque nationale, 7. Oeuvres érotiques du XVIIe siécle. (Paris: Fayard, 1988) 393-639, at 588; The Athenian Mercury, Saturday June 1 1695, Quest[ion] 1, ‘What are we to think of the Love of Socrates and Alcibiades: whether it was criminal, or innocent?’; Laclos, Les Liaisons dangereuses, Letter 146; and de Sade, La Philosophie dans le boudoir, Cinquième dialogue, interpolated address ‘Français, encore un effort si vous voulez être républicains’, section on ‘Les moeurs’. 9 See Hankins and Goulbourne in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment, and Blanshard in this volume. 10 Going back to the ancient reports of Aristoxenus’ Life of Socrates (fr. 54), for which see Trapp (ch. 4) and McLean in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. 11 For which see Brown in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. 12 See Blanshard in this volume, with further references (esp. Dowling 1994). Though Socrates still features in stereotyped lists of the great gays of history, it does not seem that he is still as numinous a figure in this context as he once was.

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It may indeed be tempting to conclude that, if anything, Socrates changes (is changed) more strikingly in this period than previously – that nineteenthand twentieth-century appropriations are characteristically more violent and transformative than those encountered earlier on. This in turn might seem intuitively to fit with a story of the waning of the attractions of the ancient world and its products as points of reference over the same period, and a corresponding loss of deference. But the temptation should probably be resisted, on the grounds that it is based on an insufficiently vivid sense of the scope and daring of some of the earlier appropriations. The urge to claim Socrates, and to reshape him as the demands of this or that personal project dictate, goes back to the very beginnings of his career in the imaginative and argumentative life of European culture, in the contrasting versions of him released by his pupils and his detractors; even if sense could be made of the notion of ‘fidelity’ to a historical Socrates, which is doubtful, it would show no tendency at all to vary in proportion with distance from him in time.13 To cite one central example, the recruiting of Socrates as a precursor of Christian enlightenment ought on any account to be reckoned an enormously startling piece of intellectual piracy; but it had already happened before the end of the second century AD.14 Or again, the gleeful iconoclasm that marks Kaiser’s and Brecht’s re-readings of Socrates’ military career cannot reasonably be said to exceed that shown in the fragments of Aristoxenus’ Life, or the assault on the Platonic Socrates mounted by Herodicus of Seleucia. * The most recent developments to be noted in either this volume or its companion belong to the 1990s: a curious, and rather perturbing take-up of I.F. Stone’s The Trial of Socrates on a far-right libertarian website, noted by Melissa Lane,15 and a Sócrates Superstar produced in Seville in 1998, mentioned in passing by Peter Brown in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment.16 It makes some sort of sense to end this introduction with at least a brief glance at the state of play still more recently. 13

For further discussion of the ‘Socratic problem’ and of the overall range of themes and topics into which Socrates could be recruited, see Trapp (Introduction) in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. 14 See further Edwards in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. 15 See Lane below, and http://users.mo-net.com/mlindste/socrates.html. 16 A production of the company Cuasiteatro; details formerly available at http://www.sonymed.com/cuasiteatro/ss.htm. ‘Socrates Superstar’, or just ‘Socrates’, was also the title of Greece’s entry for the 1979 Eurovision Song Contest, in which it came eighth: details at http://eurovision.ert.gr/en/flashback.asp, English version of lyrics at http://34sp.eurosong.net/ ~songthrush/web/gre79e.html.

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Since the late nineties, academic discussion, of the ‘Socratic problem’ and issues concerning various individual ancient and more recent Socrateses, has continued undiminished,17 with a flurry of publications inspired by the passing of the 2400th anniversary of the execution (to which the present volumes are a somewhat belated addition). Beyond the Academy, it is clear – even if no strong general pattern can be made out at such a relatively close distance – that Socrates’ name and story remain good to use in a number of different cultural contexts. Perceptions of his method of enquiry and epistemological ideals make him appear an apt figurehead for both the European Community action programme in the field of education,18 and for more localized, freelance projects of personal and social development. According to the EC Socrates programme’s self-description, he is an appropriate choice because he ‘believed in a humanist vision of the world and rejected dogmatism’, and because ‘[h]is maxim “Know thyself” is a fundamental basis for knowledge and respect of self and of others, however different they may be.’ According to Ronald Gross, author of Socrates’ Way: seven master keys to using your mind to the utmost (New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 2002), he points the way with unique clarity to authenticity, independence of mind, and personal growth: ‘Imagine having as your personal coach, the most beloved friend and wisest teacher of all time ... In every generation for 2,500 years, some of the noblest spirits have done just that. They include Montaigne, Benjamin Franklin, Henry David Thoreau, and in our own time the physicist Richard Feynman and the psychologist Carl Jung. You are invited to join them.’19 In the same spirit, Christopher Phillips, author of Socrates Café: a fresh taste of philosophy (New York: Norton, 2001) and Six Questions of Socrates (Norton, 2004) and sponsor of informal ‘Socratic’ discussion groups, holds him up as a guide to both more meaningful personal enquiry, and the redemption of philosophy from sterile academicism.20 Socrates is here being annexed in (yet again) a not

17

Some of this is discussed in the Introduction to Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. http://europa.eu.int/comm/education/programmes/socrates/socrates_en.html. Phase I of the programme ran from 1994 to 1999, Phase II from 2000–6, with Socrates presiding over subordinate elements named Comenius, Erasmus, Grundtvig, Lingua and Minerva. 19 See http://www.socratesway.com (including a picture of Gross, dressed as Socrates, emerging from the Subway at Times Square). Gross is author also of Peak Learning (1999), The Independent Scholar’s Handbook (1982), and The Lifelong Learner (1977); according to a New York Times feature of 22 December 2002, included on the website, his fascination with Socrates as a personal rôle model began when he was taken as a boy to a performance of Maxwell Anderson’s Barefoot in Athens (though the chronology cited seems not quite to work). 20 See http://www.philosopher.org. Gross also claims paternity of the idea of ‘Socrates cafés’ (in the article cited in the previous note); the relationship between his project and Phillips’ is not immediately evident. 18

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unfamiliar way, to symbolize ideals of independence, personal commitment, and freedom from perceived institutional and intellectual shackles.21 In the less engaged world of popular fiction, Plato’s narrative of the last days has recently been woven into Steven Pressfield’s story of Alcibiades’ forgotten comrade, Polemides, son of Nicolaus, in Tides of War (2000), supplying both the book’s frame and a counterpoint to the foreground narrative of its concluding events.22 And February 2006 will see the publication of Paul Levinson’s time-travelling science fiction fantasy, The Plot to Save Socrates, in which a Classics graduate of 2042 is foiled in her mission, like Crito, by Socrates’ own principled intransigence (but, unlike Crito, has the consolation of an inter-epochal affair with Alcibiades).23 On the musical front, it is only lack of a sufficiently far-sighted sponsor that prevents production of Alejandro Feo’s three-act opera Socrates, about ‘the private and public life of Socrates ... as well as his trial and execution, his love for his wife and Greece, [and] his defense of human rights’.24 In the visual arts, it would be idle for fairly obvious reasons to expect much in the way of new Socratic representations of any interest or value. But the widespread recycling of older images – thanks above all to paperback publishing and the internet – has insured that Socrates is currently as widely present and as readily recognizable in visible form as just about any figure from classical antiquity. The favourites are a small number of ancient portraits (two or three portrait-busts, and the Ephesus fresco of his seated form),25 and David’s Death (probably the most widely diffused of all); but one or two other deaths (by Dufresnoy and Rosa) 26 have also been chosen as book-covers, Raphael’s Socrates from The School of Athens crops up with some regularity, and Derrida has ensured a circulation for at least one thirteenthcentury representation.27 21

Compare, for instance, the Socrates of Bacon’s Advancement of Learning I.2 in the seventeenth century, or those of Grote and Riddell in the nineteenth (as described in Turner 1981, 294–305). 22 New York: Doubleday, 2000; Bantam edition (London 2001), 21–34 and 576–82. 23 For further details, see https://www.sff.net/people/paullevinson/Index.html. Part of the background to this story is surely Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989), in which Socrates is the only ancient member of the group brought back by the numbskull heroes – along with Joan of Arc, G(h)engis Khan, Napoleon, Beethoven, Billy the Kid, Abraham Lincoln and Sigmund Freud – to help rescue their history grade. Levinson’s cover will feature a relatively underused image of Socrates in his cell, by Gaetano Gandolfi (1782), for which see Oberreuter-Kronabel 1986, pl. 17 (and cf. below with n. 27). 24 Advertised in 2003, by OMAC Music Services, as requiring a budget of $45,000. 25 See conveniently Richter 1984, plates 160–2, 164–5. 26 Rosa’s image is on the cover of the Naxos Audiobook, The Trial & Death of Socrates (NA423912; ISBN 9626342390), Dufresnoy’s on the Wordsworth Classics of World Literature volume, Plato: Symposium and the Death of Socrates (ISBN 1853264792). 27 Socrates and Plato in MS Ashmole 304, fol. 31v, taken as the starting point of Derrida 1980, and therefore used as jacket illustration.

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On certain levels, therefore, and in certain contexts, Socrates is as visible and as available as he has been for the last five-and-a-half centuries. It will be interesting to see when next (or, if ever again) he will be hitched to an argument or a cause as profound as some of those presented in this volume, between Hegel and Martin Luther King.

Refere nces Derrida, J. (1980), La Carte postale de Socrate à Freud et au-delà, Paris: Flammarion (tr. A. Bass, as The Post Card from Socrates to Freud and Beyond, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987). Dowling, L. (1994), Hellenism and Homosexuality in Victorian Oxford, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press. Gross, R. (2002), Socrates’ Way: seven master keys to using your mind to the utmost, New York: Tarcher/Putnam. Levinson, P. (2006), The Plot to Save Socrates, New York: Tor Books. Oberreuter-Kronabel, G. (1986), Der Tod des Philosophen: Untersuchungen zum Sinngehalt eines Sterbebildtypus der französischen Malerei in der zweiten Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts, Munich: Fink. Phillips, C. (2001), Socrates Café: a fresh taste of philosophy, New York: Norton. Phillips, C. (2004), Six Questions of Socrates, New York: Norton. Popper, K.R. (1945), The Open Society and its Enemies, I. The Spell of Plato, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Pressfield, S. (2000), Tides of War, New York: Doubleday. Richter, G.M.A. (1984), The Portraits of the Greeks, rev. R.R.R. Smith, Oxford: Phaidon. Turner, F.M. (1981), The Greek Heritage in Victorian Britain, New Haven: Yale University Press.

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~ Taylor & Francis

~ Taylor & Francis Group http://tayl ora ndfra ncis.com

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1 Socrates in Hegel * Glenn W. Most Does Socrates’ irony conceal any positive doctrine beneath its negative surface? And if so, what is it? These questions probably seem to many scholars nowadays to be the central ones that must be answered by any serious attempt to provide an interpretation of the figure of Socrates, and certainly they have determined the general structure of the reception of that figure, at least in the past several centuries. And while they are certainly not necessarily entailed by the peculiar ways in which Socrates seems to have presented himself to his contemporaries, and by the no less odd ways in which they and their immediate successors passed him on to posterity, they are just as certainly entirely compatible with and closely related to them. For, as is well known, on the one hand Socrates stubbornly insisted upon seeking a rational logos for all human values and actions, but on the other hand he obstinately refused to commit to writing any substantial view of his own concerning the specific content of that logos (and it is even far from certain to what extent he was willing to entrust any such view of his, if indeed he had one, to the form of an extended monological oral discourse). This fundamental paradox has fascinated and perplexed, irritated and challenged his real and virtual interlocutors for many centuries, starting already in the tensions and contradictions within and among the three earliest and most substantial sources of our knowledge about him, the writings of Aristophanes, Plato, and Xenophon. What is more, it generates a whole series of smaller paradoxes and tensions: Socrates is said to be the wisest of the Greeks, yet we cannot define just what the positive content of his wisdom is; he demands the absolute sincerity of his interlocutors, yet he does not seem prepared to offer his own in exchange; he claims that he knows that he does not know, yet he cannot explain satisfactorily just how it is that he knows this; he is said to be indispensable for the survival of Athens, yet he is condemned to death by the Athenians themselves; he is *

My thanks to Michael Trapp and to Robert Pippin for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper.

From Socrates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, ed. M.B. Trapp. Copyright © 2007 by M.B. Trapp. Published by Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Gower House, Croft Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 3HR, UK. 1

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irresistibly seductive precisely by virtue of his unmistakably unique individuality, yet he inevitably lends himself to being used as a mouthpiece or symbol for other people’s different and often more general positions. For all these paradoxes, and for the many other ones associated with his name, it is Socrates’ loquacious but impenetrable silence that generates all the noise around him. If he had a positive theory, why did he not write it down? If he did not have a positive theory, what authorized him to pester his fellowcitizens, or us? If he is a martyr, then just what is the salvational doctrine to which his death testifies? Is he a saint – or a fraud? To be sure, it helps in understanding the figure of Socrates to remember that one of the basic features of ancient philosophy, and one of its most striking differences with regard to contemporary philosophy, is that philosophy was usually thought of in ancient times not only, and not principally, as a matter of explicitly formulated doctrines and arguments, but much more as a way of life, as an exercise in spiritual self-transformation, as an unremitting discipline of self-control.1 In this light, Socrates is certainly a characteristic phenomenon. But he is more: he is an extreme phenomenon, almost as extreme as his great follower in Late Antiquity, Secundus the Silent Philosopher, to whom Ben Edwin Perry devoted an instructive and entertaining study.2 For Socrates’ insistence that other people assume positions and defend them with arguments, combined with his simultaneous refusal to do so himself, means that logical argument itself becomes the form of his life, without it being easy to discern any particular philosophical content to that form. If Socrates had actually written a book, or even just delivered a single lecture on the Good, he would have turned out to have been just one more philosopher like all the others, ready to be admired where necessary and refuted where possible. But as it is, his garrulous silence makes him the black box of Greek philosophy. What secret, if any, does he conceal? From shortly after his death, if not indeed already during his very lifetime, people have been trying urgently and repeatedly to find some way to prise him open and read his instruments, to find out why the sleek jet of Athenian culture which was bearing him aloft was about to nosedive and crash, and finally did. In the long history of attempts to open that black box, Hegel’s interpretation of the figure of Socrates is perhaps the only one that can be compared with Plato’s, for depth of philosophical penetration and for richness of historical imagination. On both counts, in the end, there is no doubt that Plato wins; but Hegel, precisely by reconceiving on a novel and far more profound basis the traditional notion of Socrates as a turning-point in the history of philosophy, himself determined a decisive turning-point in 1 2

See especially Hadot 2002. Perry 1964.

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the reception of Socrates and laid the foundation for most later versions of that figure. It is with Hegel, as much as with Socrates himself, that such nineteenth century philosophers as Kierkegaard and Nietzsche are in dialogue when they write about the Greek philosopher; and Hegel’s questions, and at least some of his answers, have become part of the modern philosophical koine not only in Germany, but throughout the West. If the questions with which I began seem to many of us to be self-evidently the crucial ones to be asked, then this is not a fact of nature but is largely due to the legacy of Hegel. To understand the force of Hegel’s innovation, we must take a step back, into the eighteenth century.3 For the Age of the Enlightenment, with few exceptions, Socrates was less an instrument for philosophical reflection than an occasion for moral outrage. For most of the philosophes who had constituted themselves in that century as a new-fangled class of intellectuals, remote from, in opposition against, and hence superior to the institutions of political power, Socrates was a model and a martyr, an embodiment, like themselves, of reason and virtue in a corrupt, vicious, brutal polity. In what happened to him they read, and denounced, what they feared for themselves. Their Socrates was morally upright and socially beneficial, or at the very least quite innocuous; how the Athenians could possibly have ever thought of poisoning him was a mystery explicable only with reference to the evil of individuals and the corruption of society. What the exact lineaments of Socrates’ philosophy might have been were of relatively little concern, and his irony was treated as a genial and ultimately quite harmless form of courteous civility, of witty Attic salt. In short, the Enlightenment’s Socrates was, by and large, Xenophon’s Socrates: helpful, affable, sociable, officious. One small group of exceptions is provided by several texts, like Nicolas Fréret’s Observations sur les causes et sur quelques circonstances de la condamnation de Socrate (1736) and Siegmund Fridrich Dresig’s De Socrate iuste damnato (1738), which attempt to explain the condemnation of Socrates historically in terms of the specific political and religious conditions which reigned in Athens at that time;4 another, of considerable philosophical interest, is Hamann, who, especially in his Sokratische Denkwürdigkeiten (1759), used the mask of Socratic irony to demonstrate enigmatically against the Enlightenment the limits of human reason and the inescapability of a truly theological, supra-human dimension.5 Plato’s dialogues, of course, continued to be read throughout the eighteenth century – in London and in 3

For the eighteenth century background, see Montuori 1981a, (with an extensive bibliography of eighteenth century writings on Socrates, 147–53), 1981b, 1992; Raschini 2000; 2004; and the chapters by Macgregor Morris, Goulbourne and Mainz in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. 4 These essays are reprinted with some others and an introduction in Montuori 1981a. 5 O’Flaherty 1967 provides a translation and commentary for this text.

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Paris, in Amsterdam and in Geneva, in Lessing’s Hamburg and in Mendelssohn’s Berlin – but they were usually read, though the spectacles of Xenophon, not so much as presentations of Socratic philosophy but as models of Attic prose and of Athenian etiquette. The French Revolution, which transformed so many more important matters, also wrought profound changes in the image of Socrates. His opposition, in the name of reason, to the existing social forms could now be reinterpreted as a revolutionary expression of human liberty against antiquated and unexamined political institutions. Above all the Wissenschaftslehre of the German post-Kantian philosopher Fichte – the philosophical doctrine which began, like a kind of exasperated Cartesian cogito, by positing the absolute subject, and then, by introducing the opposition of the non-subject, tried to deduce gradually the whole domains of transcendental knowledge and action – was correlated by the German Romantic writer Friedrich Schlegel with the French Revolution as two of the foremost tendencies of the age: both expressed the absolute freedom of the subject to set himself in his imagination over any existing limitations and to create a world of pure subjectivity in whatever image he liked.6 To this movement of absolute subjective freedom, devoid of any particular conceptual content which might define and thereby limit it, Schlegel gave the name of Romantic irony, and assigned Socrates to it as its patron saint.7 Schlegel himself was one of the most original German Hellenists, if not one of the most erudite ones, of the remarkable decade of the 1790’s, and his invocation of Socrates was not just a stab in the dark: Schlegel had reread the sources creatively, and above all had supplemented the traditional eighteenth century texts on Socrates – Xenophon, Diogenes Laertius, Lucian, and of course Plato – with one further source which had never been entirely absent but which Schlegel himself was the first to place in the very center of the Socratic question, namely Aristophanes. After a century of a rather staid, proper, somewhat boring Xenophontic Socrates, a new Socrates burst upon the European stage thanks to Schlegel and German Romanticism: nihilistic, capricious, explosive, comic – in short, Aristophanic, even if we must be careful to take the term here not so much in the sense of Socrates as Aristophanes portrayed him in the Clouds (where, after all, he is also a ludicrous windbag and fraud) as rather in that of Aristophanes himself as the irrepressibly, anarchically creative comedian. This was the context within which Hegel’s view of Socrates was formed, and these are the interlocutors against whom almost every sentence in Hegel’s account is polemically directed, sometimes explicitly, usually tacitly. 6

Schlegel 1967, 198–9 (Athenäums-Fragment 216). Schlegel 1967, 160 (Lyceums-Fragmente 108). Cf. in general on Schlegel and Romantic irony Strohschneider-Kohrs 1977; Szondi 1978, 2.11–31. 7

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Hegel was fascinated by Socrates and returned to him over and over again in almost all his writings. Indeed, the very earliest text published in his collected works, the ‘Fragments on Popular Religion and Christianity’ that he wrote as a 23-year-old in 1793–4 in Bern, includes a lengthy comparison between Jesus and Socrates as oral teachers of a circle of disciples,8 a highly traditional comparison that recurs, usually in favour of Jesus, elsewhere in his later writings, including his lectures on The Philosophy of Religion (Hegel 1970, 17.278, 286–7). There are important references to Socrates in Hegel’s Logic (Hegel 1970, 6.557–9), his Philosophy of Right (Hegel 1970, 7.259–60), the Encyclopaedia (Hegel 1970, 8.174), Aesthetics (Hegel 1970, 14.135, 374), and Philosophy of Religion (Hegel 1970, 16.217; 17.152–3, 286–7), and an extended discussion in his Philosophy of History (Hegel 1970, 12.326–30); but, as we might expect, it is in his lectures on The History of Philosophy that Hegel presents his lengthiest, most detailed, and most deeply considered exposition of Socrates (Hegel 1970, 18.441–516). Indeed, so substantial is this chapter that Hegel closes it, uncharacteristically, with something almost approaching an apology for its length, which he justifies by the importance of the subject and the harmonious way all the details he presents seem to him to fit together (Hegel 1970, 18.516). The world historical importance of Socrates is emphasized by Hegel already in the very first sentences of this chapter: This is how far consciousness had gotten in Greece when Socrates appeared in Athens – the great figure of Socrates. In Socrates, the subjectivity of thinking was brought to consciousness in a more specific, more penetrating way. But Socrates did not grow out of the earth like a mushroom: rather, he stands in a specific continuity with his age. He is not only a highly important figure in the history of philosophy – the most interesting in the philosophy of antiquity – but he is also a world historical person. He is a major turning point of the spirit into itself: this turning represented itself in him, in his manner of thinking. (Hegel 1970, 18.441)

According to Hegel, it is in Socrates that for the first time the freedom of the subjectivity of thought is introduced in its fullness into Greek culture and thereby into world history. By asking what courage, piety, moderation, and other virtues were, not in particular nor in a specific case nor for some individual person alone but in general and in all cases and for all people, and by requiring that his interlocutors answer these questions for him and with him, Socrates demonstrated that these concepts did not exist autonomously and independently outside of human thought, but rather that they were answerable to the requirements of human consciousness. No concept of 8

Hegel 1970, 1.47–54. Subsequent references to this edition are indicated in the text. All translations from Hegel’s sometimes not fully pellucid German are my own: my apologies for their inelegance.

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virtue was to be admitted which could not satisfy the requirements of human rationality – not just yours or mine, but anyone’s. Consciousness recognized in itself, in its own capacity for reason, the ultimate arbiter of meaning. As Hegel puts it, the spirit, after having moved outside of itself to discover the world, now turns back into itself and discovers its own capabilities for the very first time (Hegel 1970, 18.441 [‘Hauptwendepunkt’]; cf. 468 [‘Umkehr’], 516 [‘Wendungspunkt’], 17.152 [‘Umkehrung’]). It is evident that Hegel’s understanding of Socrates’ novelty must depend upon his view of the nature of Greek culture before Socrates: for him, Socrates is no mushroom. This view of his has both a philosophical and a moral component. In philosophical terms, Hegel considers that the Presocratics thought about the physical world but did not reflect upon their thinking as an object in itself: that is, that they did not recognize the extent to which it is the nature of human thought itself which helps determine the objects it can understand and which therefore must be a prime object of that thought for itself. Evidently, Hegel is thinking of the ancient commonplace, found in its most celebrated form in a passage of Cicero 9 which he quotes (Hegel 1970, 18.445), according to which whereas the Presocratics had studied the cosmos, it was Socrates who had brought philosophy down from the heavens onto the earth and introduced it into men’s houses and marketplaces: by inviting people to define what virtue is, Socrates was directing them away from the physical world outside them and towards the intrinsic nature of their very own thought. How Hegel can claim that Socrates’ focus upon the activity of thought itself, his reflexive thematization of the mind, can be entirely novel, given Heraclitus’ study of logos and inquiry into himself10 and Anaxagoras’ doctrine of nous,11 to mention only these, is a question which we may well be inclined to ask, but which Hegel does not stay to answer. Be that as it may, according to Hegel, after the natural philosophers’ absolute objectivity the Sophists had fallen into the opposite extreme, a kind of exaggerated subjectivity in which each and every individual in his contingent particularity was thought to be alone decisive; it had been left to Socrates to achieve the revolutionary recognition that what counted was not this man or that one, but instead human consciousness per se, not particular subjectivity, but absolute subjectivity. If Protagoras’ assertion that man is the measure of all things12 meant that things appear to you in one way, to me in another, and that both of us are right, Socrates countered that it was only insofar as he is a

9

Cicero Tusc. Disp. 5.4.10. 22 B 1, 2, 50, 51, 72, 115; 101 D–K. 11 59 B 12–14 D–K. 12 80 B 1 D–K. 10

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thinking subject that man is the measure of all things, i.e. that there is nothing that is real that cannot be the object of human consciousness. In moral terms, Hegel thinks that in all the history of Greek culture in the period before Socrates, people had simply followed out religious and ethical prescriptions without thinking very hard about them, accepting them as objectively given without its even occurring to them to imagine that they might wish, or be supposed, to try to supply a rationale for them. How Hegel could possibly have supposed that the archaic and classical culture of Greece, which produced and enjoyed the Iliad and Greek tragedy, to name only these, could possibly have failed to reflect deeply and seriously upon the justification of moral and religious precepts until Socrates came along – that, as he puts it, before Socrates there was no conscience, ‘Gewissen’ (Hegel 1970, 18.492) – staggers the imagination, but so it is. For Hegel, Greek ethical culture before Socrates is characterized as ‘Sittlichkeit’, as blind and unthinking obedience to the right: men were virtuous, not because they had decided upon reflection to be so, but because it was their nature not to be capable of even imagining behaving in any other way. With Socrates, ‘Sittlichkeit’ is replaced by ‘Moral’: men decide, in the freedom of their selfimposed rationality, what the right way to behave is, and if they wish they can then go on to decide to act in just that very way. What is right is not right because the gods determine that it is so: rather, if the gods do define the right in some way, it is indeed so, but only because they too, like us, recognize that it is right, and hence submit themselves to the very same canons of reason that rule human thought. Hence those canons, and with them the foundations of morality, are not located outside the human mind, and are not imposed upon men by some autonomous external source, like nature or the gods: rather, they are the very form in which human rationality must act, for it cannot do otherwise, if it is to respect fully its own power once it has recognized this, than to legislate to itself and by itself (the Kantian turn here is unmistakable). But in this way, Socrates inevitably comes into conflict with Greek society, for the flourishing of Greek culture, indeed even its very survival, had been based upon ‘Sittlichkeit’, upon the Greeks’ unquestioning, unthinking, and therefore happy identification of themselves with the transmitted moral and religious codex. Socrates’ reduction of all moral issues to what the individual could be brought to recognize as being an acceptable definition of virtue meant the introduction of a criterion of subjective freedom, of interiority, in a way which could only end up being quite inimical to the foundations of Greek culture. If, for the eighteenth century, the condemnation of Socrates had often been taken to demonstrate the corruption of Greek society, for Hegel the appearance of Socrates upon the scene proves that that corruption has already set in. The systematic doubt

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about inherited norms that Socrates introduces, propagates, and never succeeds in resolving, is a mortal threat to the survival of Greek culture. As Hegel puts it in his lectures on The Philosophy of History, We now have to conceive the corruption of the Greek world in its deeper significance, and to state its principle as that of interiority which becomes free for itself. […] Thus thinking appears here as the principle of corruption, that is, as corruption of substantial ‘Sittlichkeit’: for it sets up a contrast and asserts the essential validity of principles of reason. […] It is in Socrates then at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War that the principle of interiority, of the absolute independence of thought in itself, reaches the point of being freely asserted. (Hegel 1970, 12.326–8)

Elsewhere, in The Philosophy of Right, Hegel suggests that Socrates’ recourse to subjective interiority was not only a factor which contributed to the decline of Athens, but also a reaction to it: ‘Socrates arose in the age of the corruption of Athenian democracy: he took flight from (‘verflüchtigte’) all that existed and fled back into himself in order to look there for what was right and good’ (Hegel 1970, 7.260). But whether Socrates’ privileging of subjectivity is more a cause or more a consequence of the corruption of Athens, in any event it is in Hegel’s eyes an undeniable symptom of its decline, one which announces the imminent defeat of Athens in the Peloponnesian War, the supremacy of Sparta over Athens, and the eventual subjugation of Greece by Macedonia and then by Rome. Apparently, Athens did not lose the Peloponnesian War for military, economic, geographical, or political reasons, but for philosophical ones – or rather, all of these other reasons were merely the superficial, epiphenomenal manifestation of the philosophical problem consisting in an underlying moral decay to which Socrates most cogently gave voice. Evidently, for Hegel, there is much at stake in the person of Socrates: the future of Athens; but even more, the future of Greece – indeed, the whole course of world history. On Hegel’s account, the fact that Socrates inevitably came into conflict with the traditional norms of Athenian society means that Athens had no choice but to put Socrates on trial. If not for the very first time, then certainly for the first time with such care and seriousness, Hegel argues the case not so much for Socrates as rather for Socrates’ accusers, maintaining that Athens was right to prosecute Socrates, since the principle of subjectivity he represented was a mortal threat to its very survival. In Hegel’s analysis, the minority Enlightenment tradition of such authors as Fréret and Dresig returns, but now with rather more attention to historical detail and above all with a far deeper and more ambitious philosophical foundation. Hegel breaks the indictment down into its various components and for each one does his best to provide at least a certain measure of justification. Did Socrates introduce new gods and refuse to recognize those

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of the city? Yes he did, inasmuch as he insisted upon a principle of rational thought such that he was prepared to acknowledge the validity only of what he himself could assert as logically compelling for his own thought; and in his divine sign, his daimonion, he introduced a religious instance to which he alone had a personal, individual relationship. Did Socrates corrupt the young? Yes he did, inasmuch as by turning Anytos’ son against his father he intervened unforgivably into the holy privacy of family relationships, that ‘mother’s milk of “Sittlichkeit”’, as Hegel puts it, ‘on which a human being is raised’ (Hegel 1970, 18.505), and thereby proved that he put the rational individual’s right to call into question all elements of the existing order not only before the established demands of public religion, but also before the inherited inviolability of familial piety. Thus Hegel insists that the Athenians were quite right to prosecute Socrates and no less right to find him guilty. So too, when he goes on to consider not only Socrates’ trial and conviction but also his execution, Hegel does not hesitate to lay the blame for Socrates’ death at the door not of Athens, but of Socrates himself. On Hegel’s reconstruction, Athenian law permitted the condemned man to determine himself what would be the appropriate punishment in his own case, and hence Socrates was given the choice between paying a fine and going into exile. By refusing to do either, Socrates demonstrated that he refused to acknowledge the sovereignty of the Athenian people over him, and thereby brought upon himself the death penalty – once again, in Hegel’s view, quite rightly. But to say, as Hegel does, that Socrates’ trial and execution were necessary and right does not mean that Hegel celebrated them as a good thing. On the contrary, he insists, as so much of the tradition before him had done, that Socrates is a tragic figure – but he does so in terms of his peculiarly Hegelian conception of the essence of tragedy (Hegel 1970, 18.446–7).13 For Hegel, a true tragedy does not represent the simple conflict between what is wholly right and what is wholly wrong, the persecution and destruction of purely innocent good by purely malevolent evil: this is for him merely disgusting, outrageous, not morally uplifting in the way an authentic tragedy must be. Instead, true tragedy must display, in all its ineluctability, the inevitable collision between two partial rights, the hopeless, doomed, but necessary struggle to achieve dominance which is waged against one another by two points of view, each of which is partially justified, but neither of which is fully legitimate, and the partial defeat of both of them within the terms of a larger moral perspective within which they can both be finally integrated, though not without resistance, resentment, and suffering. That is why Hegel was perhaps the first person in the world to take Sophocles’ 13

See above all Hegel 1970, 15.520–34, 17.132–5. For helpful discussions of Hegel’s theory of tragedy, cf. Gellrich 1988; Szondi 1978, 1.165–74.

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Antigone, and not for example his Oedipus Tyrannus, as the paradigmatic Greek tragedy, and why Hegel interpreted the Antigone so idiosyncratically, as the conflict between two partial rights and their ultimate harmonious reconciliation (Hegel 1970, 15.549–50, 17.133). By the same token, within Greek history it is for Hegel above all the trial and condemnation of Socrates which is most genuinely tragic, since Socrates represented a principle that could not help but come to expression, the freedom of thought which for Hegel is the motor of world history – but he represented it too early, at a time when the world was not yet ready for it and could only react to it as a mortal threat. And of course, precisely by representing it too early, Socrates helped it to achieve its eventual breakthrough; and precisely by condemning Socrates, Athens ensured that his viewpoint would eventually prove victorious. As Hegel puts it in his lectures on The History of Philosophy, Thus the fate of Socrates is genuinely tragic. This is in general precisely what a tragic ethical fate is, that one right makes its appearance against another – not as though only the one were right and the other wrong, but instead both are right and opposed to one another, and the one shatters itself upon the other; both endure loss, and so both are also justified against each other. The Athenian people themselves had reached that stage of their development when individual consciousness divides itself off as autonomous from the general spirit and becomes an object for itself: the Athenians saw this in Socrates (they were right, yet he was too), but at the same time they felt that this was their destruction: so they were punishing an aspect of themselves. […] It is the dissolution of this people, whose spirit will soon vanish from the world, but in such a way that from its ashes a higher spirit will arise. For the spirit of the world has risen to a higher level of consciousness. Socrates is the hero, for he recognized consciously the higher principle of the spirit and expressed it in words. […] The principle of the Greek world was not yet capable of enduring the principle of subjective reflection: so it appeared as inimically destructive to it. Hence the Athenian people were not only justified in reacting against it according to their laws, they were obliged to do so: they saw this principle as a crime. That is the position of heroes in world history on the whole: through them, a new world comes about. This new principle is in contradiction with the previous one, it appears as threatening; hence the heroes appear as violent, as violating the laws. Individually, they are destroyed; but the principle itself breaks through, even if in a different form, and it undermines the existing structure. (Hegel 1970, 18.514–15)

It is easy to misunderstand this as a simple expression of Hegel’s notorious political conservatism: Socrates is a revolutionary for him, as he had been for the Enlightenment, and we might be tempted to suppose that for this very reason, this time around, Hegel thinks that he must be put against the wall. But in fact Hegel sees Socrates’ death as a martyrdom, as a painful price that

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had to be paid so that the principle of subjective freedom, which is not only a necessary but also a good thing, could break through the static perfection of Greek Classicism and push the world onto the path towards the future: dynamic, anxious, often rather disagreeable, but quite inevitable modernity. But if Socrates is a martyr, just what is the doctrine for the sake of which he is willing to be sacrificed? What is the positive principle which is worth so much that it justifies even the death of Socrates – indeed, even the destruction of the Greek Classical world, which, in putting Socrates to death, in a certain sense commits suicide? We arrive here at the central problem of Hegel’s interpretation of Socrates, and thereby at the historical moment of origin of what has since come to seem the fundamental issue with which we began: the question of just what Socrates stands for. What truth, if any, does Socrates’ irony conceal? In 1818, Friedrich Schleiermacher had set the terms for the modern scientifically serious study of the place of Socrates in the history of Greek philosophy by pointing out the plurality, variety, and unreliability of the extant sources upon which any reconstruction of his views must rely; his essay ‘Ueber den Werth des Sokrates als Philosophen’ had concluded that the safest starting-point had to be Xenophon, but that this version had to be philosophically enhanced by careful dosages of Plato.14 There can be no doubt that Hegel, in balancing the partial reports of Plato, Xenophon, and Aristophanes against one another in order to form his own more complex presentation, is responding carefully to his Berlin colleague Schleiermacher’s challenge; but it is on his own terms that he does so. For obviously, the Xenophontic Socrates which Hegel’s generation has inherited from the Enlightenment will not satisfy Hegel’s world historical expectations: the practical shrewdness and courteous officiousness of that Socrates, so far from entering of necessity into mortal conflict with traditional Greek morality, is in fact entirely compatible with it – precisely this had been after all Xenophon’s apologetic point – and hence could never have provided a good reason for the Athenians to kill him. So even though Hegel does indeed assert that Xenophon’s depiction of Socrates is ‘more exact and more faithful’ than Plato’s (Hegel 1970, 18. 477) and states that while Plato’s version of the external form of Socrates’ conversations may be more refined we must rely principally upon Xenophon if we wish to learn the content of his knowledge and the degree of his philosophical development (Hegel 1970, 18.520), by and large he tends very much to downplay Xenophon as a source for his own reconstruction of Socrates’ philosophy. What then of the Aristophanic Socrates whom the German Romantics had celebrated? In many regards, Hegel’s interpretation of Socrates would seem inevitably to lead towards assigning him a purely negative philosophical content. Hegel emphasizes repeatedly the purely deconstructive, critical 14

Schleiermacher’s essay is most conveniently available in Patzer 1987, 41–58.

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function of Socrates’ irony: it is designed to confuse and baffle his interlocutors, to sow the seeds of doubt in their minds, to show them that they do not know what they thought they knew, but not to give them something positive and substantial which they could know instead (Hegel 1970, 18.466–8; cf. 7.281; 11.256; 12.329). Hegel insists that Socrates must indeed have had some kind of vague intuition of the good as a universal teleological principle, but that even so he failed to work this out in concrete, positive detail, and that this was a defect in him as a philosopher: ‘The Good as the purpose of the world, of the individual, […] is a principle which is concrete in itself but which [sc. in Socrates] is not yet represented in its concrete determination; and in this abstract attitude lies the defect of the Socratic principle. Nothing affirmative can be asserted [sc. about it]; for it is not elaborated further’ (Hegel 1970, 18.468). That is why Hegel can claim that to a certain degree Socrates was really not being ironic at all when he claimed that he did not know what his interlocutors thought that he knew, for he really did not know, since he did not possess full philosophical knowledge (Hegel 1970, 11.256). Thus the result of Socrates’ irony remains purely negative: he criticizes established usages without substituting new ones for them; and even the striking disparity among the various Socratic schools that will all go on to appeal to him after his death as their founder provides an irrefutable proof for the claim that he himself had no positive system (Hegel 1970, 18.519–20). After all, on Hegel’s view it will only be with the advent of Christianity, and with its conception of a God who creates radically and ex nihilo, that a form of reflection will finally be introduced into the development of human history which will permit thought to rise to the level of taking as its object not merely individual thoughts but rather thinking itself, absolute reflection. Socrates can adumbrate this eventual development, but of course he cannot entirely anticipate it: it is his tragic fate to remain resolutely premodern. Thus Hegel interprets the statement in Diogenes Laertius, according to which the Ionians invented natural philosophy, Socrates added ethics, and Plato dialectic,15 to mean that Socrates is the inventor of nothing more than a mere proto-philosophical moral reflection: Socrates represents the moment in which the consciousness that the question of how to live one’s life can and must be an object for human thought first enters world history, but he still does so in a defective form (Hegel 1970, 18.444–5). For although it enters on what might potentially be a universal level, in fact it is only in a purely individual mode that this happens: Socrates interrogates individuals about general questions and tries to attain universality, but he remains on the individual level. But precisely this individuality of Socrates Hegel considers to be one of his strengths: it makes his life and his philosophy inextricably 15

Diog. Laert. 3.56.

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intertwined with one another, for his thinking is directed to nothing else than the question of how he should live his life, and his life is directed to nothing other than thinking about this very question; this assigns him a place of honor in the pantheon of great fifth century Athenian individuals, next to Pericles, Sophocles, and Thucydides (Hegel 1970, 18.452). Even Socrates’ daimonion becomes not only a symptom of Socrates’ ultimate failure to achieve full consciousness of the dignity of the subjective freedom of thought which he had barely glimpsed (since he mistakenly attributed to this external authority what were in fact the pronouncements of his own mind), but also an expression of his own irreducible individuality, for this is a personal religious instance to which he alone has access and is answerable, and thereby represents an individualistic conception of Greek religion necessarily at odds with traditional, public, communal Greek religiosity (Hegel 1970, 18.495–6). But precisely this individuality of Socrates is philosophically defective, for it means that he cannot provide a universally valid positive content to the Idea of the Good towards which he feels himself to be impelled in some vague way which he himself does not entirely comprehend. It will still be necessary to fill out that concept with detailed positive content – but this task will be left to Plato and Aristotle to complete (Hegel 1970, 18.444). Thus Hegel comes very close to an Aristophanic vision of an anarchic, capricious, ultimately nihilistic Socrates: and in fact Hegel cites Aristophanes’ Clouds at length and argues that, however exaggerated the caricature of Socrates in that comedy might have been, it would have had no comic effect whatsoever if it had simply been false, and must therefore be understood as a hyperbolic exasperation of the truth about Socrates, not as a total distortion of it (Hegel 1970, 18.482–5). As Hegel puts it, The exaggeration of which Aristophanes could [sc. justly] be accused is that he pushed the [sc. Socratic] dialectic to the full bitterness of its [sc. ultimate] consequence; yet it cannot be said that this depiction treated Socrates unjustly. Aristophanes is not at all in the wrong, indeed one must even admire his profundity, for he recognized Socrates’ dialectical side as something negative and (in his own way, of course) depicted it with such a firm paintbrush. For in Socrates’ procedure the decision is always placed in the subject, in his conscience; but where that is bad, the story of Strepsiades will necessarily be repeated. (Hegel 1970, 18.485)

But at the same time, Hegel is entirely unprepared to accept a purely negative interpretation of Socratic irony. On the contrary: for him the Romantic irony of Schlegel is a pernicious, nihilistic, narcissistic, immoral, philosophically stupid idea which he combats at every possible occasion, here in the lectures on The History of Philosophy (Hegel 1970, 18.460), elsewhere most prominently in the Aesthetics (Hegel 1970, 13.93–99), The

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Philosophy of Right (Hegel 1970, 7.277–81), and in an essay on the works of Solger from 1828 (Hegel 1970, 11.254–9). On Hegel’s view, Romantic irony simply bounces back and forth, like an eternally moving and infinitely tedious ping-pong ball, from one position to its opposite, defining its own subjective freedom simply in terms of its capacity to see through, and thereby abandon, any particular position, and therefore never following out any single direction or arriving at a single destination. Hegel calls this a bad infinity: it is not eventually closed down definitively by some substantial telos to which the self-understanding of the spirit could ever finally arrive and find the peace it seeks, but it can on principle go on forever, or be stopped, if at all, then at any point, and without loss. In a certain sense, Hegel’s whole philosophical project may be said to be directed against this Fichtean infinite and non-teleological irony. Indeed, in Hegel’s highly idiosyncratic (and quite revealing) list of the moral forms of evil in The Philosophy of Right, irony is assigned the last and very worst place, after hypocrisy, probabilism, Jesuitism, and the appeal to conscience (Hegel 1970, 7.265–81). That is why Hegel repeatedly denies the identity of Socratic irony with Romantic irony and why he asserts, against Schlegel, Ast, and Solger, that Socrates’ irony is not after all purely negative but instead has a positive content. But if Hegel wants to rescue Socrates from the deadly embrace of Fichte, he can only do so by casting him into the seductive arms of Plato. After the Enlightenment Socrates of Xenophon and the Romantic Socrates of Aristophanes, Hegel restores a philosophical dignity to Socrates, but finds no more satisfactory way to do so than by Platonizing him. For all his recognition that it was in fact not Socrates but Plato who introduced the Idea of the Good as a philosophically substantial concept, Hegel ends up defending Socrates’ philosophical seriousness and world historical importance by claiming that he too had already possessed this very same insight, at least to a certain degree. As Hegel puts it, The affirmative aspect, what Socrates developed in consciousness – this is what we must now explain in greater detail. This affirmative aspect is nothing other than the Good, insofar as it is produced out of consciousness by knowledge – the known Good, the Beautiful, what one calls the Idea, the Eternal, the Good, the Universal in and for itself, which is determined by thought; this free thought produces the Universal, the True, and, insofar as it is purpose, the Good. (Hegel 1970, 18.467)

To suggest that Socrates himself believed this, or indeed that he could have even made head or tail of it if somebody had proposed it to him, would take a brave man – or a desperate one. Hegel seems to have come very close to succumbing to a simplistic but, for that very reason, quite seductive scheme according to which Socrates could have been paralleled with Schlegel as a dangerous spirit of nihilism, the Peloponnesian War with the French

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Revolution as a world-historical crisis, and Plato with Hegel himself as a redemptively positive form of philosophical salvation from both. But in the end Hegel cannot bring himself to condemn Socrates as such a model would have required, and hence he swings all the way into the opposite extreme, transforming Socrates, if not into a second Schlegel, then into a quasi-Plato. In conclusion, we may say that Hegel’s view of Socrates was Janus-faced, in two senses: on the one hand, synchronically, it raised the level of understanding of Socrates to a new degree of refinement and complexity in both (i) a historical and (ii) a philosophical dimension; on the other hand, diachronically, it faced both (iii) backwards toward the tradition out of which Hegel came and (iv) forwards towards the future which he helped decisively to prepare. (i) Historically, Hegel tried to see Socrates within the terms of Socrates’ own age, but he interpreted him and his society in symbolic terms, as expressions of modes of thought beyond anything that a contemporary Athenian could possibly have recognized or even understood. It is of course easy to make fun of Hegel’s Zeitgeist, and few if any of us still believe in the coherent and meaningful progress of world history as a single and unified act of conscious self-understanding; but on the other hand it is not easy to see what kind of history-writing we will be left with if we abandon altogether Hegel’s attempt to find patterns of larger meaning in history and instead reduce our historical explanations to the accurate reproduction of nothing more than the limited self-understandings of historical agents. (ii) Philosophically, Hegel attempted to combine an analytical account of the strengths and weaknesses of Socrates’ views and arguments with a historical account of the precise place of Socrates in the history of the development of Greek philosophy, and above all to link the analytical with the historical account by providing genetic explanations for Socrates’ philosophical merits and defects. It is of course not hard to see that, for all his caution, Hegel ended up falling into the trap of failing to distinguish sufficiently between Plato’s Socrates and Socrates’ Socrates, and confused the views of the author of the Platonic dialogues with those of the historical figure represented by one of the characters in them. But the question of the philosophical relation between Socrates and Plato, which Hegel, together with Schleiermacher and others, helped to raise, has never come to rest, and his own attempt to resolve it can be ignored today by a historian of Greek philosophy only at his or her peril. (iii) With regard to the past, Hegel helped bring to an end a century of facile moralizations about Socrates and indicated what was really at stake in both the Xenophontic and the Aristophanic versions of Socrates, which had enjoyed competing phases of popularity but which before Schleiermacher and Hegel had never been systematically compared and related to one another. (iv) Finally, with regard to the future, Hegel pointed the way along a path of ever more precise historical and philosophical analysis – a path upon which the

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professional philological scholarship typical of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was already hastening during his own lifetime and which was to overtake him before his death. Hegel demanded that Socrates, and not only Socrates, be interpreted in accordance with criteria whose rigour he was able to recognize himself in principle even though he was not quite capable of fulfilling them in his own scholarly practice. No doubt, there were many defects in the details of Hegel’s account; but these also worked productively to stimulate further research, even more than did the global sweep of his panoramic vision, which could sometimes prove paralysing. This is certainly the case, for example, with Kierkegaard, whose 1841 Masters thesis, The Concept of Irony, is in large measure an attempt to outdo Hegel at his own project of interpreting Socrates.16 Philologically, Kierkegaard provides precisely what is most painfully lacking in Hegel’s account, a careful analysis of the Socratic problem, distinguishing and adjudicating between the Xenophontic, the Aristophanic, and the Platonic versions of Socrates; and philosophically Kierkegaard points to the central weakness of Hegel’s account, his attempt to provide a positive philosophical content for Socrates’ irony by Platonizing him, and insists on the contrary upon the identity between Socratic irony and Romantic irony. In so doing, Kierkegaard embarked upon a project that was to define his life’s work and at the same time succeeded in liberating himself, at least to a large extent, from his own very Hegelian beginnings. Had Hegel discovered that Kierkegaard would go on to assign speculative philosophy of the Hegelian sort, together with hedonism, Romanticism, and seduction, to the lowest of all spheres of value and action, the aesthetic one, he would no doubt have been infuriated. It is amusing to speculate upon the words with which the ghost of Hegel will have welcomed the ghost of Kierkegaard when the latter descended to the Underworld in 1855 – or, for that matter, upon the words with which the ghost of Socrates will have greeted them both. It must have been a scene worthy of the ferocious comic imagination of a Swift, or indeed of an Aristophanes.

Refere nces Gellrich, M. (1988), Tragedy and Theory: the problem of conflict since Aristotle, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Hadot, P. (2002), What is Ancient Philosophy?, tr. M. Chase, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

16

Kierkegaard 1965.

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Hegel, G.W.F. (1970), Werke in zwanzig Bänden, ed. E. Moldenhauer and K.M. Michel, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag. Kierkegaard, S. (1965), The Concept of Irony, with Constant Reference to Socrates, tr. L.M. Capel, Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press. Lojacono, E. (ed.) (2004), Socrate in Occidente, Florence: Le Monnier. Montuori, M. (1981a), De Socrate iuste damnato: the rise of the Socratic Problem in the eighteenth century, Amsterdam: Gieben. Montuori, M. (1981b), Socrates: physiology of a myth, Amsterdam: Gieben. Montuori, M. (1992), The Socratic Problem: the history – the solutions, from the 18th century to the present time; 61 extracts from 54 authors in their historical context, Amsterdam: Gieben. O’Flaherty, J.C.O. (1967), Hamann’s ‘Socratic Memorabilia’; a translation and commentary, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press. Patzer, A. (ed.) (1987), Der historische Sokrates, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. Perry, B.E. (1964), Secundus, the Silent Philosopher, Chapel Hill: American Philological Association. Raschini, M. (2000), Interpretazioni socratiche, ed. 2, Venice: Marsilio. Schlegel, F. (1967), Charakteristiken und Kritiken I (1796–1801), ed. H. Eichner, = E. Behler, J.-J. Anstett, H. Eichner (eds), Kritische Friedrich-Schlegel-Ausgabe, Erste Abteilung, Zweiter Band, Munich: Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh. Strohschneider-Kohrs, I. (1977), Die romantische Ironie in Theorie und Gestaltung, ed. 2, Tübingen: Niemeyer. Szondi, P. (1978), Schriften, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag.

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~ Taylor & Francis

~ Taylor & Francis Group http://tayl ora ndfra ncis.com

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2 A simple wise man of ancient times: Kierkegaard on Socrates George Pattison In the very last of his works written for publication during his lifetime, the tenth number of the polemical pamphlet series called The Moment and dated September 1855, just weeks before his death, Kierkegaard made the following declaration: ‘The only analogy I have for what I am doing is Socrates. My task is the Socratic task of revising the definition of what it means to be a Christian. Therefore I do not call myself a Christian (keeping the ideal free), but I can make it plain that nobody else is either’.1 Both the content of this remark and its position in Kierkegaard’s authorship give it a singular pathos and force amongst his many statements about the meaning of his life and writing. But it was not just at the end of his life that Kierkegaard realized how important Socrates was to him. On the contrary, Socrates had been there from the beginning. Kierkegaard’s Magister’s dissertation of 18412 bore the title The Concept of Irony, with Constant Reference to Socrates, and Socrates would later played a conspicuous part in such key pseudonymous works as Philosophical Fragments (1844) and The Sickness unto Death (1849). Even in Kierkegaard’s more exclusively religious writings, Socrates makes regular appearances, often under the transparent incognito of ‘a simple wise man of ancient times’. Kierkegaard’s relation to Socrates was therefore both complex and varied. It was complicated further by the way in which his interpretation of Socrates was entangled both with his negative relation to Hegel and his positive evaluation of predecessors such Hamann and Lessing. Socrates could thus variously serve Kierkegaard as the subject of a fairly conventional academic study, as a model for his own authorship, as a 1

Kierkegaard 1962, 19:319. All further references to Kierkegaard’s published works will be given in the text, citing volume and page number of the third edition. All translations are my own. N.B. though ready for publication, this number of ‘The Moment’ was first published posthumously. 2 This, in common with other Magister’s dissertations, was subsequently regraded as a doctorate, so Kierkegaard is occasionally referred to by contemporaries as Dr. Kierkegaard.

From Socrates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, ed. M.B. Trapp. Copyright © 2007 by M.B. Trapp. Published by Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Gower House, Croft Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 3HR, UK. 19

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counter-instance to Hegel and to the Hegelian way of doing philosophy, and even, I shall suggest, as foreshadowing the essential features of a genuine witness to Christ. Kierkegaard’s view of Socrates was not entirely consistent. In a muchquoted journal entry from 1850 Kierkegaard takes himself to task for the view of Socrates presented in the dissertation. There, he now says, he had presented it as a fault on the part of Socrates that he did not embrace the whole and only emphasised the individual. Now he sees things otherwise and even calls his 1841-self a ‘Hegelian fool’.3 In what remains the most substantial study of Kierkegaard’s view of Socrates, Jens Himmelstrup (in accordance with the general trend of Kierkegaard interpretation at the time) sees this change as explicable in biographical terms.4 The experience of breaking off his engagement and thus becoming an outsider in Copenhagen’s middle-class circles made Kierkegaard realize that, existentially, the individual really did stand outside the universal and could not be understood, explained or justified in terms of universal concepts or values. As Himmelstrup saw it, then, it was not so much Kierkegaard’s view of Socrates that changed but the whole orientation of his own view of life. What had given offence in the dissertation is now embraced with enthusiasm. Leaving aside the question of the usefulness of biographical background material in philosophical explanation, I think we have to see the shifts in Kierkegaard’s view of Socrates not so much in terms of a single epochal shift from a quasi-Hegelian championing of the universal to a ‘Socratic’ championing of the individual but more as a constantly modulated set of variations on a fairly constant group of themes. It is not that there is a well-defined standpoint called ‘the Socratic’ that is at one point the subject of criticism and at another the object of praise. It is rather that Socrates – so like Kierkegaard himself! – appears in Kierkegaard’s texts as a kind of actor whose changing roles are nevertheless all marked by his distinctive artistic style. ‘Style’ may be a problematic concept in philosophy, but I suggest that if we do not attend to Kierkegaard’s sense of the Socratic style and attempt only to abstract a Socratic ‘position’ from his innumerable references to his Greek role-model, then we will almost certainly miss what, for Kierkegaard, was the most important thing about this ‘simple wise man of ancient times’. As we now come to look at the different roles that Kierkegaard gives to Socrates, I shall group these under the following headings: infinite absolute 3

Kierkegaard 1909–48, X: 3 A 477. Further references are given in the text using the standard sequences of Volume (X), sub-volume (3 – where relevant), section (A) and entry number (477). Hong 1967–78, a six-volume selection from the papers, contains an index giving cross-references to this Danish numeration, as does the scholarly Danish edition currently in production. 4 See Himmelstrup 1924.

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negativity; recollection; the Greek way; pedagogy; and proto-witness. Finally, I shall consider the Kierkegaardian question as to whether a modern Socrates would be possible and, if so, what he would be like. These headings are approximately, but not entirely, chronologically organized, in the sense that they track shifting emphases in the development of Kierkegaard’s treatment of Socrates. The discussion as a whole is far from exhaustive, but will, I hope, serve to introduce us to the key aspects of this central Kierkegaardian topic. Infi ni te a bs ol ute ne ga tivi ty The expression ‘infinite absolute negativity’ comes via Hegel’s discussion of Solger from the dissertation itself. It is, then, Hegelian and, as we have seen, Kierkegaard came to regard the dissertation’s author as an Hegelian fool. Undoubtedly there is a strongly Hegelian element in the dissertation’s vocabulary and in many of its arguments.5 As was also the case for Hegel, Socrates is seen as a manifestation of the decadence of the early Greek citystate and, again in line with Hegel, Kierkegaard distinguishes between the irony of Socrates and the irony of Schlegel and other romantic ironists. These last represent an irony that cannot be justified because it is entirely lacking in ethical seriousness and is no more than a wilful, arbitrary and irresponsible programme for playing with life’s possibilities. Yet there are also significant differences both from Hegel’s view of Socrates and from Hegel’s way of doing philosophy. The opening paragraph of the introduction already sets the tone of the dissertation’s ambivalence towards Hegel. On the one hand ‘the most recent philosophical effort in its greatest representative’ is to be praised for ‘the genial power with which it seizes the phenomenon and holds it fast’ (1:69). We are then immediately invited to consider the phenomenon as a feminine, passive form and conceptualizing as a masculine activity. But seen like this, Kierkegaard asks, don’t we sometimes hear a little too much of ‘the clinking of spurs and the voice of authority’ on the part of those who are busy ‘grasping’ the phenomena?6 And, as he goes on to suggest, a negative ‘phenomenon’ such as irony will be especially hard to get hold of in this way. Is Kierkegaard warning us that a Hegelian, phenomenological approach to the history of ideas will maybe not quite be able to get its hands on Socrates? Other differences also emerge. For Kierkegaard, it is ultimately Aristophanes’ Socrates who is to be definitively preferred to that of Xenophon and Plato. Plato’s use of Socrates as a mouthpiece for various speculative positions is a complete falsification. Hegel’s favourable 5

See Most in this volume. As, later, he will directly criticize Hegel for recalling the romantic ironists to the path of truth with a voice that ‘was not always mild and fatherly, but rather rough and school-masterly’ (1:279). 6

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comments about Socrates having performed his duty to the state by serving as a soldier are passed over. Instead, Socrates’ relation to his contemporaries is infinitely and absolutely negative according to young Kierkegaard. Thus (and as opposed to Hegel), Socrates’ death has nothing tragic in it. There was simply not enough common ground between Socrates and his contemporary Athenians for his death to have any significance for them or for their judgement to have any significance for him. A moment of transition, Kierkegaard says, will always have two aspects. The one is the anticipation of the new, emergent form. This is represented by the prophet, and a prophet who falls foul of his contemporaries and is persecuted or killed by them may well be tragic, because his death is for something. On the other hand, we have the ironist, who represents the emptiness of the old order. Such a one is Socrates, who is therefore likened by Kierkegaard to Judaism which (as understood in Christian theology) proclaims a law and a righteousness that is humanly unrealizable. Perhaps the most vivid image by which Kierkegaard attempts to portray this negativity occurs in his interpretative synopsis of Plato’s Symposium. ‘The ironist,’ he writes, ‘is the vampire who has sucked the blood from the lover, whilst fanning him cool, lulling him to sleep and tormenting him with restless dreams’ (1:104). If Hegel allows Socrates to be the founder of morality, albeit in its most abstract form, Kierkegaard partially agrees. Accepting Hegel’s formulations of the ‘principle of subjective freedom’ and ‘the good’ as summarizing the ethical content of Socrates’ labours, Kierkegaard nevertheless insists that these are not to be understood as positive, not even in the most minimal and abstract sense. Rather, the Socratic subject is only negatively free, free from laws that in themselves are false, and ‘the good’ is only postulated as a task whose content is entirely unknown. There is thus nothing at all positive ‘in’ Socrates’ own position, according to Kierkegaard. Having outbid Hegel himself in terms of stressing Socrates’ negativity, Kierkegaard now points to a feature of Socrates’ philosophizing which, he states, Hegel has overlooked. Socrates himself neither possessed, represented, or achieved anything positive himself. As a teacher, though, his philosophical midwifery did make it possible for others to go on and find what he could not. Just as Charon, in ferrying them over from life with all its fullness to the world of shadows, required his passengers to disburden themselves of all their concrete life’s manifold attributes, their titles, their valuables, their purple, their big words, their cares, their concerns, etc., in order not to weigh his little boat down too much, so too Socrates ferried individuals from reality to ideality, and the ideal infinity, like the ideal negativity, was the nothing in which he let reality’s manifold disappear (1:256).

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So, he comments, we should not forget that ‘world-historical’ individuals ‘are great precisely by virtue of this: that the whole of their lives belongs to the world and they have nothing for themselves. But that is why the world has so much more to thank them for’ (1:256). Socrates, then, ‘had’ nothing of his own to offer: but – negatively – he made it possible for others to enter upon the next stage of historical development. Recoll ecti o n Socrates as the teacher of recollection emerges most prominently, indeed uniquely, in Philosophical Fragments. Here he becomes the spokesman for the principle of Platonic recollection, which, in turn, has often been regarded by commentators as a cipher for an Hegelian view of history, according to which all the manifold of historical development would finally be capable of synthesis within a single, unified idea. This is such a radical transformation from the Socrates of the dissertation that Himmelstrup for one refuses to believe that Kierkegaard could ever seriously have believed that Socrates represented such a position. Kierkegaard typically did see in Socrates the diametrical opposite of both Platonic and Hegelian forms of speculation. Nevertheless, it could be argued that, as we have just seen, the dissertation states that, even if Socrates himself never speculated, his philosophical questioning did bring others into the way of speculation by setting up a requirement of universality that, negative in his own thought, could too easily become positive in that of his followers. The issue of how much the Socrates of the Philosophical Fragments relates to the Socrates of the dissertation can also be considered in the light of the first of the list of Latin theses presented with the dissertation, which states that ‘The similarity between Christ and Socrates consists in their dissimilarity’. It is precisely this dissimilarity that is the hinge of Philosophical Fragments. The title page of this little work by Kierkegaard’s most winsome pseudonym, Johannes Climacus, sets out three questions. ‘Can there be a historical point of departure? How can such a point of departure have a more than historical interest? Can one base an eternal happiness on a knowledge derived from the historical?’ Under the heading ‘Thought Experiment’, the opening chapter reformulates these questions in terms of the question ‘Can the truth be learned?’ With reference to the Meno, Climacus moves swiftly to the assertion that ‘Socrates thought his way through the difficulty by means of the idea that all learning and seeking is only a form of recollection such that the ignorant person need only be reminded in order to become conscious of what he himself already knows’ (6:15). As Climacus goes on to say, this notion is also connected to the idea of the soul’s immortality or preexistence. It is this assumption, that all knowing is recollection, that Climacus sees as underlying Socrates’ philosophical midwifery. If only he

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knew it, the aspiring philosopher already knows all he needs to know. With regard to the questions of the title page this means that history can at the most have only an accidental or occasional relation to the truth. Whether I learn the truth ‘from Socrates or from Prodicus or from a servant-girl’ (6:17) is entirely irrelevant to the nature of truth itself which I didn’t really get ‘from’ anyone other than myself. Equally irrelevant is the contingent fact that I learned it at such and such a moment in time, since it was always there and is not any different from the truth I would have learned a day or a year earlier or fifty years later. Having set the question up in this way, Climacus now asks – still entirely by way of a thought experiment (he doesn’t really offer any reasons for asking this other than the sheer interest of it) – what it would be like if things were to be otherwise. Clearly, he thinks, every piece of the picture would have to be changed. We would have to assume that the would-be learner was not in possession of the truth, that it really did matter when, how and from whom it was learned – or, as he goes on to argue, given (since in this second situation the learner would be so ignorant that even the condition for learning would have to be given by the teacher). Such a learner is more than ignorant, he is sinful and responsible for his ignorance, and such a teacher is more than a teacher, he is a saviour and redeemer: he is and can only be the God who gives immortality. Climacus also argues that this God can only communicate himself to human beings by coming close to them as one of them, i.e. by incarnating himself, and by appearing to them as the absolute paradox. The Socratic position, that the truth can be learned, leads via the principle of recollection to a philosophy of thorough-going immanence, and can only be opposed by an insistence on the paradoxical revelation of transcendence in the Incarnate God. But all of this, remember, is what it is precisely as the ‘opposite’ of the Socratic. It is how things would have to be if the Socratic position were untrue. There is, I think, an analogy to this opposition between the Christian and the Socratic in one of Kierkegaard’s much later works, The Sickness unto Death, by a pseudonym called, confusingly, Anti-Climacus. On this point, however, he does not seem to be entirely ‘Anti-’ the Climacus of the Fragments. Here, in The Sickness unto Death, the question concerns sin and, Anti-Climacus is arguing, knowledge of sin can only be had by way of a kind of reflection of the knowledge of the truth given in Christ. He connects this with the capacity of the Christian message to cause offence. Who wants to be told and who, having been told, wants to believe that they are a sinner? Such a designation offends all our natural human self-respect, moral sense, etc. And what does our natural moral sense tell us? Once more it is Socrates who provides the alternative, namely, that no one would knowingly do what was wrong and that ‘sin’ is therefore simply ignorance. The Christian view,

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however, insists that this is not so. It asserts that there is a crucial element overlooked by Socrates, namely the will, or, as Anti-Climacus also puts it, defiance. Greeks intellectuality, he adds, ‘was too happy, too naïve, too aesthetic, too ironic, too witty and too sinful to get into its head that someone could knowingly hold off from doing the good or knowingly, knowing what was right, do what was wrong’ (15:142–3). As in the Fragments, the Greeks – and especially Socrates – presuppose an essential continuity between the existing subject, knowledge and the good. But it is this which Christianity, with its doctrine of sin and salvation, has to oppose. According to Christianity we are not as we should be and, indeed, we are too deeply sunk in our state of sin to know how to get out unless God takes the first step (which, of course, he has). Socrates, then, despite the ‘infinite absolute negativity’ ascribed to him in the Concept of Irony, seems finally to be lining up both with Plato and Hegel. All of them seem united in believing that it is possible for human beings to seek after and to find the truth, to find what explains life and what makes it intellectually and morally meaningful – even if they reach differing judgements concerning what has actually been achieved or what they themselves are capable of achieving in this direction. The Gr ee k w ay There is nevertheless something in Socrates that is deeply alien to Hegel and Hegelianism. Even if it is conceded that there is some sort of thin conceptual continuum between their worlds of thought, Socrates’ manner of relating himself to what he knows or doesn’t know differs, to borrow a phrase used by Feuerbach to similar purpose, toto cælo from that of Hegel. Even in the texts where Socrates is most strongly distinguished from Christianity, Kierkegaard speaks of him in a way that is quite different from the way in which he speaks of Hegel and many other contemporary opponents. It is not just a matter of a kind of tenderness, fascination and even love on Kierkegaard’s part, but also what he claims is a difference in the kind or form of Socratic thought itself when compared with modern versions of philosophy. In this spirit, chapter two of the Fragments thus opens with what is in effect a eulogy over Socrates that could almost be compared with the well-known euology over Abraham from Fear and Trembling. Socrates’ teaching activity, we are told, was no mere outward employment, it was a response to an inner demand no less than to demands from others, ‘as much autopathic as sympathetic’, as Climacus puts it. To which he adds That was how Socrates also understood it, and that is why he would not accept honours or distinguished positions or money for his teaching, since his judgement was as incorruptible as a dead man’s. O, rare modesty, rare in our time, in which money and laurels cannot be great or glorious enough to repay

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the dignity of the teacher, yet in which all the gold and all the honours in the world are indeed the reward for teaching, since they are of equal worth. But our time has the positive and understands itself in the light of that. Socrates, on the other hand, lacked the positive. But look to see if that lack explains his limitations. These were in fact rooted in his zeal for the human, so that he disciplined himself with the same divine jealousy with which he disciplined others and in which he loved the divine (6:26).

Growing ever more rhapsodical, Climacus finally imagines himself coming into Socrates’ presence. And if I was a Plato in enthusiasm, and if my heart beat more loudly than Alcibiades’, more than the Corybantes’, when I heard Socrates, and if the passion of my admiration could not be satisfied without embracing that noble man, then Socrates would in a likelihood smile at me and say, ‘My dear boy, you are a treacherous lover, for you are wanting to idolise me on account of my wisdom so that you would then be the one who understood me best, and be the one from whose admiring embrace I would not be able to tear myself free: are you not a seducer?’ And if I did not understand him, then his cold irony would bring me to despair, as he explained to me how he owed me just as much as I owed him … O, rare faithfulness, that seduces nobody, not even the one who uses all the arts of seduction to be seduced! (6:27)

Socrates, then, is characterized by a ‘rare’ integrity that relates not only to his indifference to worldly honours, but also to the emotional dynamics of his relation to his students. He will not become their beloved or their lover, because to do so would be to deprive them of the freedom in which alone they can come to realize the implicit self-knowledge that they already have. And note also that in this passage Socrates’ motive is described not so much as a love of ‘truth’ in some sort of abstract sense. It is ‘the human’ (and quite specifically not ‘humanity’) for which he is zealous, both in himself and in others. This Socrates is no longer a vampire, representing only the most extreme abstractions of the universal and the good in the form of infinite absolute negativity. This is a teacher whose very inhumanity is the incognito of his humanity.7 Of course, Kierkegaard’s view of contemporary philosophers is only mentioned in the passages last cited in order to be a foil for the virtues of Socrates. Elsewhere he is more directly and more extensively scathing of their manifold faults. Thus, in the introduction to the Fragments itself he speaks of ‘the higher lunacy’s raving insanity, whose symptom is raving, convulsive raving, and the contents of this raving are the words: era, epoch, 7

However, one should add that although Socrates is generally the supreme example of this in Kierkegaard’s authorship, he is also typical of Greek philosophy as a whole in this respect. The genuinely Greek thinkers, Kierkegaard insists, never forgot that what they were concerned about was the actual, existing human being.

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era and epoch, the system …’ (6:10), a line of satire over some of his contemporaries’ fad-like obsession for every new idea from Germany that is already found in an unfinished farce that Kierkegaard wrote as a student. Such mockery is continued in The Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Fragments where, as elsewhere, Hegelians are the chief but not the only targets. The key features of Kierkegaard’s complaints are implicit in what has already been quoted, but it is worth bringing them out, because they offer a point-by-point contrast to the opposing virtues of Socratic philosophizing. The contemporary philosopher is noisy, fond of acclamation and publicity. The truth of his ideas is proved by the fact that the present age is ready to honour them (or, rather, to honour him for having them). But this is not just a matter of simple popularity-seeking. Something more serious is going on. The real problem is that such purported philosophers believe they have guarantees for their own place in history and they believe this because they also believe they have what Kierkegaard calls a ‘world-historical perspective’, a view of the whole that enables them not only to be spectators of history in general but also of themselves in it – thus the rhetoric of the age, the epoch, and the system. But the Socratic thinker does not have this satisfaction. If he does indeed have world-historical significance, then this is not something that he himself is ever able to know. Only subsequent history can decide the matter, for history is still in process and we simply do not know how the present will appear to a subsequent age. This, as Kierkegaard already pointed out in the dissertation, was the case with Socrates himself, since his undermining of the values and beliefs of the polis could not at that point in time be known to have presaged a new era of thought. Overlooking the contingency of their historical situatedness, the speculative philosophers are also always likely to overlook the contingent reality of their own existence as individual human beings. Thus, in the Postscript, Kierkegaard lampoons the speculative thinker who is prepared to discuss what Christianity is but not whether there are any actual living human beings who are Christian (or who is only prepared to discuss this question in the historically general form that, e.g., Denmark became a Christian country a thousand years ago with the conversion of the heathen and, therefore, all who have lived in Denmark since then are Christian – in other words, he will only address the question in the perspective of a worldhistorical viewpoint). To which Climacus’ comment is that As is well-known, Socrates says that if one supposes flute music then one must also suppose there to be a flautist. Consequently, if one supposes there to be such a thing as speculation, one must also suppose there to be one or more people who speculate. ‘And so, o valued man, o honoured speculator, to whom I may be so bold as to draw close and to speak privately: dear man! What do

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you think of Christianity, i.e., are you a Christian or not? The question is not whether you have gone further than it, but whether you are one …’ (9:48).

A Socrates, however, would never forget such a question, precisely because of his jealousy for the human, ‘the man in man’, to use Bakhtin’s expression. Another way of stating this, is to emphasize Socrates’ ethical interest. Kierkegaard is thus fond of citing the story that Socrates gave up the study of the celestial bodies because it was irrelevant to the ethical situation of the human being (VI:B40,3), not least in connection with the sudden enthusiasm for astronomy on the part of the Danish Hegelian, J.L. Heiberg – an epitome of Hegelianism’s ethical absent-mindedness. The difference in style between the Hegelian/modern and the Socratic/Greek styles of philosophising is becoming clear. Two points only need to be added. The first is that the Socratic is always depicted by Kierkegaard (post-dissertation) as proceeding with a light touch, with an irony that is no longer vampiric but delicately humorous even when, maybe especially when, it is the heaviest of points at issue. The second is that, unlike the modern philosopher whose appetite for compendious overviews is insatiable, Socrates first stops to distinguish between what he knows and what he does not. So, in Kierkegaard’s journals at least, Socrates and Hegel are brought to a head-to-head confrontation: The Dialectic of the Beginning Scene: The Underworld Persons: Socrates Hegel Socr. Is sitting by a running stream and listening to it in the cool air. Hegel is sitting at a table and reading Trendelenburg’s Logische Untersuchungen, Part II, p. 198. He goes over to Socrates to complain. Socr.: Should we begin by being altogether in disagreement, or should we agree on something we could call a presupposition. H.: Socr.: What do you presuppose as your starting-point? H.: Nothing at all. Socr.: That’s quite something! So perhaps you don’t start at all? H.: I not start, I who have written 21 volumes. Socr.: Ye gods! What a hecatomb you have offered. H.: But I start from nothing. S.: Is that not from something? H.: No – on the contrary. That first makes its appearance in the conclusion of the whole, in the course of which I discuss science, world history, etc.

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Socr.: How might I be able to master this difficult task for many remarkable things may well be included which would show up my stupidity. (The misuse of the rhetorical moment.) You know that I did not even allow Polos to talk for more than 5 minutes at a time, and you want to talk XXI volumes. (VI:A145)

Ped ag og y In the very pages of The Sickness unto Death where he distinguishes between the Socratic and the Christian views of sin, Anti-Climacus (who plainly speaks for Kierkegaard here) breaks off to lament: Socrates, Socrates, Socrates! Oh yes, one might well call upon your name three times, nor would it be excessive to call upon it ten times if it would help at all. People think that what the world needs is a republic and people think they need a new social order and a new religion, but nobody thinks that it is a Socrates that just this particular world that is so confused by too much knowledge needs (15:144–5).

But it is not only because of the deceptive world-historical horizons of the Hegelians that we need a Socrates. Christianity itself is in no less need of such a one. This is, indeed, partly because Christianity itself has been caught up in the general excitement about new eras and world history, but the problems go deeper. In a late journal entry, Kierkegaard contrasts Bernard of Clairvaux preaching crusades to the assembled thousands and making the cross into a ‘cause’ with Socrates who worked in the opposite direction, breaking the crowd down into its constituent individuals. In this at least, Kierkegaard comments, ‘there is more Christianity in the Socratic approach than in that of Saint Bernard’ (X:5A133). If we know that Kierkegaard also described his own authorship as an attempt to detach the individual from the crowd, we can begin to see how he might have found in Socrates a prototype for his own work. The role of the Socratic in relation to Christianity is not simply negative, however. Already in the Fragments, Climacus declares that ‘between one human being and another’ the Socratic way of relating teacher and learner is, in fact, the highest. Socrates thus becomes the model of the Christian pedagogue. It is true that in relation to the situation of sin, only a God can give us the capacity for learning the truth. But this is to be taken quite literally, in that no one human being can presume to speak on behalf of God to another. At some points Kierkegaard does, undeniably, invoke a concept of apostolic authority which is sometimes also expressly extended to the ordained ministry as a whole. In such cases, the apostle or priest, although also a human being, speaks in, with and under the paradoxical-transcendent determinations of divine communication itself. Even here, however, Kierkegaard would emphasize that this authority has nothing to do with those qualities that distinguish one human being from another – intelligence,

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sensitivity, courage, etc. Simply as a human being the apostle is as fallible as the rest of us. Moreover, it is a moot point as to whether Kierkegaard actually believed that there was anyone still living who could claim such apostolic authority. There were plenty of ordained clergy in Denmark, of course, but given Kierkegaard’s own stated view that the Christianity of the New Testament no longer existed in the Church, it is hard to see that he could consistently have conceded such apostolic authority to them. Putting the question of the apostle to one side, the point that as between one human being and another the Socratic is the ‘highest’ relationship we can achieve is made many times by Kierkegaard. It is, for example, central to the unfinished drafts of a series of proposed lectures on the subject of ‘the dialectics of communication’. A distinction that lies at the heart of these lectures is that between knowledge and art, a distinction further compounded by the modern tendency to identify ‘art’ with fine art. Kierkegaard himself prefers a more Aristotelian sense, according to which ethical communication would not be the communication of knowledge about the world or the good or God, but the communication of an actual ethical capacity. Communication of this kind is and can only be an ‘art’ for it depends on the interpersonal relation between teacher and pupil that, since the pupil is being addressed precisely with respect to his freedom, cannot be brought within the constraints of one or other technique. In other words, the teacher presupposes that the learner is potentially an ethical subject and has the ability to think and act ethically – the question is, how to help him realize it. Ultimately what is at issue is neither an object (as in teaching ‘about’ history or mathematics), nor the knowledge and skills of the teacher, but only the learner’s own ethical reality. Indeed, in the moment that one person wants to be another’s teacher he must beware of forgetting that qua ethical subject the same demand is placed upon him as it is upon the learner: With regard to the ethical, the one human being cannot have authority in relation to the other because, ethically speaking, God is the master and every human being a pupil. If someone were to say to people: You should do what is ethical, it would be as if in the same moment one heard God saying to this important man: Nonsense, my friend, it is you who should do it (VIII: 1 B 81 8,16).

The Socratic background of this view is clear and, indeed, Kierkegaard shortly afterwards names the art of this kind of communication as ‘maieutic’, i.e. Socratic midwifery. The exponent of such an art, he says, will be an ironist, in whom irony is ‘the highest seriousness’: ‘Seriousness lies in this: that I, as an individual relate myself to God and so to every human being – People stupidly believe that it is seriousness to have a lot of followers who would be willing if necessary to die for one. Stupidity. To help a human

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being as an individual to relate himself to God is seriousness. But this can only be done indirectly, since otherwise I become a hindrance to the one who is to be helped’ (VIII: 1 B 81 8, 23). In the midst of Christianity’s own attempt to communicate its message about the individual’s God-relationship, there is thus a repetition of the basic pattern of Socratic communication. The Socratic and Christian teacher cannot give faith to the learner, since that remains the prerogative of God, but, Kierkegaard seems to be suggesting, he can do a number of things that are relevant to the individual’s acquisition of faith: he can show the hollowness of presumptive but false forms of faith, he can help the learner to become aware of his own desire for faith, and he can draw the learner’s attention to the common human situation in which the issue of faith is a matter of mutual responsibility. Prot o- wit ness Reflecting on these points, we come to see that what is at stake here is not simply faith: it is also a matter of love. The irony – Kierkegaard even speaks of the ‘ataraxy’ (VIII: 1 B 81 8,24) – of the Socratic communicator is the incognito of the love that has its goal the furtherance of the other’s best interest: to realize and to be sustained in his God-relationship. Or, to put it another way, the goal of such maieutic pedagogy is to help the learner to realize that God is love and that God is love in the quite definite sense of seeking and wanting a relationship of love with the learner in his utterly individual contingency. In the last of the meditations gathered under the title Works of Love, Kierkegaard (writing now in his own name) comes to the topic ‘The Work of Love in Praising Love’. This meditation is, I suggest, crucial to the strategy of the whole work. After all, we will only want to have love for ourselves or to practice it in relation to others if we believe that it is worth having and doing. To praise love is to give the reasons why love is to be sought and cultivated at all. It is to bear witness to love and, in the context of what is now a directly Christian text, it is to bear witness in faithful suffering to the love of God in Christ. Kierkegaard proceeds by setting out a number of conditions that apply to anyone who is to undertake such a task. The first is that it must be done in self-denial. This sounds suitably ‘Christian’ enough. However, Kierkegaard immediately glosses this assertion with the following comment: ‘If praising love is to be beneficial, one must be able to hold out over a long period in thinking one single thought …’ (12:343). The thinker of such a single thought will be one who is not distracted by the multiplicity of externalities but who directs his thought inwards, ‘in self-deepening, so that one might discover the things that concern one’s inner state, and such discovery is in the first instance very humbling’ (12:344). The resonances with what

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Kierkegaard has said about the Socratic thinker’s concern with ‘the man in man’ are scarcely mistakable. Nor should we imagine such a thinker’s humility as being far from the Socratic spirit of the saying referred to in the Fragments, when Socrates declared that when he turned to examine his inner self he became bewildered and could not tell if he was a man or a monster (6:38). The practice of thinking a single thought will train the one who is to praise love in self-denial. But self-denial must be complemented by what Kierkegaard calls ‘sacrificial disinterestedness’. If this can be seen as an intensification of the spirit of self-denial, it also involves attention to the situation that ‘Truth must essentially be regarded as in conflict with the world. The world has never been so good and never will become so good, that the majority will want the truth or have a true idea as to what truth is, as would be required if proclaiming the truth were to meet with all-round applause’ (12:349). The apostle Paul is cited as an example of such sacrificial disinterestedness. But then Kierkegaard launches into a familiar lament about the present time, its absorption in the merely momentary, its conceit regarding its own discovery and possession of the truth. ‘Ah!’ he cries out in the middle of this lament, ‘the time of thinkers seems to be past!’ (12:350). Note that, surprisingly, he does not say of ‘apostles’ or ‘martyrs’ or ‘saints’, but ‘thinkers’ and, I suggest, it is almost invariably Socrates who provides Kierkegaard with the model of what a thinker, in the strongest sense of the term, should be. And, in case we are in doubt, Kierkegaard himself proceeds to draw the analogy. It is just as it was in the time of Socrates, in accordance with the statement of the prosecutor that ‘Everybody understood what was required for educating the young, there was only one who did not understand and that was Socrates’. So too in our time ‘everybody’ is wise and only here and there is there a single one who is a fool. The world is so near to having reached perfection that ‘everybody’ is now wise, and if it wasn’t for these individual weirdos and fools, then the world would be completely perfect (12:351).

Irony, of course. Whilst people rush around noisily admiring each other, God sits and waits in heaven, unsought and unseen. At this point Kierkegaard places a third requirement on the one who seeks to praise God in this situation of confusion: so confused is the age that he must conceal his own role as teacher and, instead of revealing the love that motivates him, give himself out to be selfish and also depict the object of love in terms that make it appear unloving and unlovable. In case we don’t immediately see why this has to be so, Kierkegaard once more appeals to the example of Socrates. It was precisely Socrates’ distinction of being the ugliest man in Greece that made him the one best qualified to talk about the beautiful, since whatever he said in praise of beauty could not possibly be mistaken as a form of covert self-praise. ‘I think,’ says Kierkegaard, ‘that if

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he had had only a beautiful nose (which he did not have, something especially conspicuous amongst the Greeks who all had beautiful noses), then he would not have spoken a single word about loving beauty. This would have been contrary to his idea, since he would have been afraid that some might think he was talking about himself or at least about his beautiful nose’ (12:354). So too in Christianity, what we are to love is not what we find immediately attractive or appealing, but the ‘neighbour’, i.e. the person whose only claim on us is our common humanity. Kierkegaard’s theme is Christ, and the Christian witness to the love of God revealing itself to the world in Christ. But is there not an implicit analogy throughout this meditation to Socrates, the one who having once seen the sun that shines in the world outside the cave, voluntarily re-enters it in order to incite others also to seek their freedom from the bonds of their collective delusions but, in doing so, exposes himself to misunderstanding, mockery and, finally, death? A m od ern So cra tes? As we ponder the requirement of a repetition of the Socratic within Christianity, however, we cannot but notice many differences between Socrates’ time and our own. Of course, human beings remain as prone as they ever did to self-deception, to vanity and to the easy life of the crowd rather than the hard labour of individual responsibility. That is why we need a Socrates. Nevertheless there are cultural changes that would make a modern Socrates very different in a number of respects from the historical original. Not the least of these is that we now live in a culture of writing and the book. As a writer, Kierkegaard was more than usually self-reflective over the nature of his literary art and made great play of such distinctions as that between his own literary religious discourses and actual sermons (even though most modern readers do not easily see the difference, apart from sheer length!), not to mention the whole complex machinery of bluff and counter-bluff at work in his pseudonymous writings. It is possible that he saw his own famous practice of walking the streets of Copenhagen and engaging in conversation anyone who was willing to be cross-examined by him an attempt more or less literarily to emulate the practice of his beloved Socrates. However, this is ultimately a subordinate theme, as least as concerns the authorship itself, and the question remains whether a writer could be a Socrates? Can writing ever be Socratic? Isn’t the whole point of Socrates’ way of questioning tied up with his immediate personal presence amongst his interlocutors? How can a book re-enact or set in motion anything like an analogue of a genuine Socratic dialogue?

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I have examined elsewhere some of the many ways in which Kierkegaard tries to address these questions in his literary work and to construct texts that not merely reproduce a dialogue but that set in motion a dialogue in which the reader is fully participant.8 All I wish to add here is that Kierkegaard did not imagine himself to be the first in the field. I have already mentioned the inspiration he took from J.G. Hamann, a thinker of what has been called the counter-Enlightenment, and in whose Sokratische Denkwürdigkeiten (amongst other works) Kierkegaard found a model for his own ironic and humorous mixture of flippancy and ultimate concern. He makes a clear statement as to the links he sees between Socrates, Hamann and his own project when, in words echoing what we have just read from Works of Love, he prefaces The Concept of Anxiety with the following lines, printed between the title-page and the dedication: The age of distinction is past, the system has overwhelmed it. Whoever loves such a thing is a weirdo whose soul cleaves to something long vanished. Be that as it may, Socrates still remains what he was, the simple wise man with his remarkable distinction which he himself spoke of and perfected, and which only the rare Hamann admiringly repeated two thousand years later: ‘For Socrates was great in this … that he distinguished between what he understood and what he didn’t understand.’

But Hamann was not, I think, his only modern model. Also from the eighteenth century was Lessing, to whom Kierkegaard dedicates a eulogy in the course of the Concluding Unscientific Postscript. In the course of this we find some comments about Lessing’s literary style which, if we cannot say were always perfectly exemplified in Kierkegaard’s own writing, provided him with an example of how a Socratic writer might aspire to write. And now his style! This polemical tone, which in every moment has all the time in the world for a joke, and this in an age of ferment (for according to an old newspaper I found this was just like our own time in being an age of ferment the like of which the world had never seen). This easy-going stylistic manner, which executes a simile down to the finest detail, as if the exposition itself really mattered, as if all was peaceful and secure, perhaps despite all the printers’ lads and the history of the world that everyone was expecting him to get finished. This scholarly casualness, that won’t obey the norms of systematic paragraphs. This mixture of jest and seriousness, which makes it impossible for a third party to know for certain which is which – which is as it should be since the third party should know this for himself. This cunning, which might even sometimes have placed a false emphasis on what is indifferent, so that the person who understands might precisely thereby grasp what is dialectically decisive, whilst the heretics won’t get anything to run away with. This manner of setting the matter forth, which entirely belongs to him individually, freshly 8

See Pattison 2002.

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and refreshingly making its own way and not exhaling a mosaic of catchwords and authorised tropes and contemporary expressions whose quotation marks betray the fact that the writer is in hock to the age, whereas Lessing sub rosa lets one know that he is following the thought. This shrewd manner of teasingly using his own ‘I’, almost like Socrates, excusing himself from society or, rather, securing himself against it when it is a matter of the truth … (9:60–1).

Socrates was, historically, a once-for-all historical individual. But, as Kierkegaard looks back through the history of literature and ideas and around at his own age, he sees possibilities of repeating Socrates’ essential work in a variety of cultural forms and conditions, perhaps most surprisingly but not least, the task of witnessing to the love of God amidst the decay of Christendom. In that task he sees, via Lessing and Hamann, a model for his own unique calling as a Christian writer.

Refere nces Himmelstrup, J. (1924), Søren Kierkegaards Opfattelse af Socrates, Copenhagen: Busck. Hong, H.V. and E.H. (eds) (1967–78), Søren Kierkegaard’s Journals and Papers, Bloomington; London: Indiana University Press. Kierkegaard, S. (1909–48), Papirer, ed. J. Heiberg, V. Kuhr, and E. Torsting, Copenhagen: Gyldendal. Kierkegaard, S. (1962), Øjeblikket in Samlede Væker, ed. 3, Copenhagen: Gyldendal. Pattison, G. (2002), Kierkegaard’s Upbuilding Discourses: philosophy, literature and theology, London: Routledge.

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~ Taylor & Francis

~ Taylor & Francis Group http://tayl ora ndfra ncis.com

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3 Nietzsche’s Socrateases * Michael Silk Nietzsche’s Socrateases – plural, with two ‘a’s: multiplicity, with a hint of play. For Nietzsche, Socrates is ‘the most questionable phenomenon of antiquity’. Nietzsche can claim that ‘Socrates … stands so close to me that I am fighting a battle with him almost all the time’; also that ‘Socrates was from the gutter’ and, perhaps, ‘a typical criminal’; but then again, that ‘I admire Socrates’ courage and wisdom’; and yet again, that ‘Socrates suffered from life’. These (and there are more) are different Socrate(a)ses, representing, in part, different phases in Nietzsche’s career;1 in any case, representing * In the notes below, ‘Nietzsche’ is generally abbreviated ‘N’ and ‘Socrates’ (or ‘Sokrates’) ‘S’, while the following abbreviations for N’s writings are used: AC = Der Antichrist (The Antichrist); ASZ = Also Sprach Zarathustra (So Spake Zarathustra); EH = Ecce Homo; FW = Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (Light-Hearted Philosophy = The Gay Science); GD = Götzendämmerung (Twilight of the Idols); GT = Die Geburt der Tragödie (The Birth of Tragedy); MA = Menschliches, Allzumenschliches (Human, All Too Human); MR = Mörgenrote (Dawn); ‘PTZG’ = ‘Die Philosophie im tragischen Zeitalter der Griechen’ (‘Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks’); UB = Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen (Unfashionable Meditations); WA = Der Fall Wagner (The Wagner Case); ‘WWK’ = ‘Wissenschaft und Weisheit im Kampfe’ (‘Science and Wisdom in Conflict’). References to N’s writings are cited (as KGW etc.) from Nietzsche, Werke, Kritische Gesamtausgabe, edd. G. Colli and M. Montinari (Berlin, 1967–). Translations from N are my own. Within quotations or translations, unless otherwise indicated, emphases are N’s, but marks of omission are mine. References to N’s writings in KGW that are not attributed to named works are to notes or plans preserved in his Nachlass. Preliminary versions of this chapter were given at the King’s ‘Socrates’ conference in July 2002, to a mixed audience at Dartmouth College in November 2003, and to the Boston University Department of Philosophy in April 2005. My grateful thanks to members of all three audiences for their comments, and to Ingo Gildenhard, Steve Scully and Michael Trapp for further suggestions and advice. 1

For the five quotations (from GT, ‘WWK’, GD and FW) see below, nn.15, 28, 47, 36, 38. For surveys of relevant material in N, see Dannhauser 1974 and Schmidt 1969 – both of them useful compilations, if unexciting (Dannhauser) or over-schematic (Schmidt). Among the material I have not discussed here, or discussed only in passing, is N’s philological treatment of S: see e.g. the lectures on Plato cited in n.10 below.

From Socrates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, ed. M.B. Trapp. Copyright © 2007 by M.B. Trapp. Published by Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Gower House, Croft Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 3HR, UK. 37

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different explorations from one whose philosophy, arguably, has its own ultimate coherence, but is also essentially exploratory: a philosophy that centres on explorations, and on a capacity to reconsider, from one exploration to another. Nietzsche’s relationship with Socrates is often misrepresented, especially by those who are warmly disposed towards Nietzsche, but feel the same about Socrates, and in a good-hearted sort of way convince themselves that Nietzsche really felt the same too. This amiable confusion is typified, in recent years, by Alexander Nehamas, whose discussion of the two thinkers is noteworthy – and not only for showing more interest in Socrates than in Nietzsche (which is not a mistake that Nietzsche himself was in any danger of making), but for a very un-Nietzschean, though also in a sense neoNietzschean, attempt to assimilate this German to that Greek.2 For Nehamas, Nietzsche, after some initial hostility, becomes ‘fond’ of Socrates in mid-career. Referring to Nietzsche’s early enthusiasm for the philosophical pessimism of Schopenhauer and his protracted relationship with the composer, Richard Wagner, Nehamas comments: Apart from Schopenhauer and Wagner, no figure was more important to Nietzsche’s individual and intellectual development than Socrates. Actually, he was more deeply involved with Socrates than with either of the other two.

Again, Nehamas calls Socrates one of Nietzsche’s ‘educators’ – in effect, one of Nietzsche’s formative influences – and adds: ‘Socrates was the only one among Nietzsche’s “educators” from whom he could never be sure he had emancipated himself’,3 This is all very confused. For Nietzsche, Wagner is and forever remains a supreme personal event; the one creative genius Nietzsche ever knows or will know personally; his paradigm of the great artist and, eventually, of the great decadent.4 Schopenhauer, meanwhile, is a major, and very specific, influence in Nietzsche’s youth and at the very start of his philosophical career: ‘Schopenhauer as Educator’ (sic) is the title of one of his four Unfashionable Meditations (written in the mid-1870s), just as ‘Richard Wagner 2

Nehamas 1998, 128–56. Porter (2000, 87) even manages to convince himself that the ‘model’ for GT (of all texts!) is ‘profoundly Socratic’. The effective begetter of the modern notion of a pro-Socratic Nietzsche was Walter Kaufmann: see e.g. Kaufmann 1974, 391–411 (an argument challenged point by point, albeit unsubtly and unsupply, by Jovanovski 1991). With or without the pro-Socratising, it is common for N’s interpreters to make his multiple Socrate(a)ses into a unity, by superimposing the evidence of one book, or one period, onto another. A typical instance is provided by Ahern (1995, 58) who sees N as representing S as ‘decadent’ from GT onwards; on the impropriety of such superimpositions on N’s thought in general, cf. Silk 2004. 3 Nehamas 1998, 131, 132, 154. 4 See Silk 2004, 593–4, 596, 602.

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in Bayreuth’ is the title of another.5 By comparison, Socrates was a continual challenge and a provocation, but not (in any straightforward sense) an influence: neither an ‘educator’ from whom Nietzsche had any need to be ‘emancipated’ nor a figure of whom he could possibly be ‘fond’6 – and not only, or not so much, because, unlike Wagner, he is not a flesh-and-blood acquaintance, but because, unlike Wagner and Schopenhauer too, Socrates composed nothing and wrote nothing. This is crucial, and it is richly symptomatic of the way that many philosophical readers of Nietzsche, like Nehamas, misread him, that they miss the point. At all phases of his career, Nietzsche is and aspires to be a philosopher-artist.7 He is and aspires to be a creator, and, correlatively, is deeply concerned with the psychology, ontology, even theology and antitheology, of creativity. Socrates, notoriously, is the thinker who writes nothing and creates nothing, and, beyond that, mounts a specific challenge to traditional modes of creativity in art. Socrates, in Plato’s vivid depictions, seeks truth, seeks virtue, but rejects existing paths to truth and virtue. His is a new path of dialectical endeavour, whereby the seeker proceeds towards the new by posing questions and, by questioning, prepares to eliminate the old. First and foremost, it is Socrates, in Plato’s Apology, who cross-examines the poets about their poetry, supposedly in the hope of learning what they, or it, might mean, only to discover that they compose not ‘by wisdom’ (sophiâi), but by some kind of natural instinct (phusei tini), which is not, and cannot be, itself a kind of wisdom.8 For Plato’s Socrates, instinctive wisdom is a contradiction in terms, and if poetry – and art in general – is instinctive, Socrates is its enemy.9 As an enemy of art, Socrates (for Nietzsche, as for Plato) is and remains a challenge, but (for Nietzsche, unlike for Plato) Socrates is not, cannot be, an educator. Like an educator, though, Socrates is arguably part of Nietzsche’s personal experience (and not just part of his personal demonology). How can this be? Remarkably, throughout his philosophical career and its many Socratic, or anti-Socratic, explorations, Nietzsche tends to bypass the familiar issue of distinguishing a ‘real’ Socrates from the Platonic or other versions. In his 5

UB III (Schopenhauer als Erzieher, 1874) and IV (Richard Wagner in Bayreuth, 1876). Among the variations on this theme is the characterisation offered by Michael Tanner (1990, 21) in an otherwise perceptive response to GD and AC: N has had a ‘protracted affair of the spirit’ with S, and now, in this last phase of his career, is ‘in love with’ his portrayal of S. 7 Cf. Stern 1979, 26: ‘Nietzsche never referred to himself as a “philosopher” without an admixture of irony and … most readily thought of himself as “ein Schriftsteller” [writer] and occasionally “ein Dichter” [poet], and of his work as “Literatur” [literature].’ N also specifically places himself among the ‘Künstler’ (‘artists’), as in the very last word of the ‘Epilog’ to WA (KGW 6. 3, 437): cf. Silk 2004, 587, 600–2. 8 Plato, Apology 22a–c. 9 For a recent challenge to this (as I take it) unmistakable status of the Platonic Socrates as enemy of art, see Ledbetter 2003, with my review (Silk 2005). 6

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published work, in point of fact, he hardly ever alludes to any version, even to Plato’s, as distinct from his own,10 albeit, of course, his own variously distinctive versions are themselves constructed on Platonic, among other, foundations. Despite their idiosyncrasy, both singly and collectively, he treats each of his own Socrate(a)ses as definitive, as if equally authentic, in the way (no doubt) that personal experience is definitive, because authentic. And this, perhaps, is the strongest argument for concluding that, in a very particular sense, Socrates – though not (pace Nehamas) one of Nietzsche’s ‘educators’, nor a repository he is able to draw on, let alone can be said to be ‘fond’ of – is indeed part of Nietzsche’s personal experience. If nothing else, his constructions of Socrates have a personal weight. The importance of Socrates to Nietzsche stems, above all, from his participation in the great age of ancient Greece. For Nietzsche, ‘the Greeks remain the supreme cultural event of history’, just as Socrates himself remains their ‘most questionable phenomenon’.11 The two quotations effectively span Nietzsche’s creative career: the first belongs to 1888, the second to 1872. Those seventeen years of intense and intensely lived philosophizing begin with the young Professor of Classics in Basel in Switzerland (1869–79), proud possessor of an array of neo-Romantic espousals – of art and a metaphysics of art, of Schopenhauer, of Germany, of the Greeks – all grandly deployed in his first book, The Birth of Tragedy (Die Geburt der Tragödie, 1872). Here Socrates is identified as a turning point in the cultural history of Greece and, as such, a crucial figure in the cultural history of the Western world. He is, in particular, the prime embodiment of Socratism: a complex archetypal figure, but one whose overall significance is clearly negative or, at best, equivocal. The Birth of Tragedy famously constructs a version of ‘the tragic’ from the twin models of Aeschylean-Sophoclean tragedy and Wagnerian music-drama. Tragedy was born in Greece, and is in process of rebirth in Germany. Tragedy is more than a theatrical genre: it is a profound, in fact the most profound, expression of life, and possible only in a culture which both acknowledges the dark destructive truths of the human condition and celebrates existence, nevertheless, through beauty, individuated form, illusion. The horror and the truth is symbolized by Dionysus, the illusory beauty of individuated form by Apollo.12 Into this sublime world of Hellenic acknowledgement and celebration enters the Socratic spirit of dissociated rationality. Hitherto, one gathers 10

It is not that N was unaware of the issues (see e.g. the copious sets of lecture notes, from his Basel days, on Plato and the Platonic Dialogue: KGW 2. 4, 1–188); and there are exceptions, as late as EH (‘Die Unzeitgemässen’ 3: KGW 6. 3, 318); but the trend is clear. 11 GD, ‘Streifzüge eines Unzeitgemässen’ 47, and GT 13: KGW 6. 3, 143 and 3. 1, 86. 12 GT 1–10 and 16–25: KGW 3. 1, 21–71 and 98–152. See in general Silk and Stern 1983.

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(Nietzsche is elusive on this point), rationality has had its proper place as, presumably (though Nietzsche never quite admits it), one facet of the Apolline. But by the end of the fifth century, Socratic rationality rules (as, in our modern world, it rules again, and perhaps even more comprehensively). At the creative centre, tragedy is subverted by Socratism in the guise of Euripides, for whom beauty depends on intelligibility (‘alles muss verständig sein, um schön zu sein’). Momentous in itself, this ‘aesthetic Socratism’ (‘aesthetischer Sokratismus’) is actually a specific instance of a more general, and yet more momentous, optimism at the heart of the Socratic creed, which centres on the conviction that life itself is reasonable. And however much such a view of a rationalising Euripides is at odds with our own generation’s readings of this tragedian, it is the young Nietzsche’s view, and a view inseparable from his estimation of Socrates and Socratism and of the distinctive importance of the Socratic/Socratistic itself.13 According to The Birth of Tragedy, Socrates embodies the spirit of logic and dialectic, pure thought and dissociated rationality – all summed up, for Nietzsche, in the German word for the learning and the science that are among the ultimate products of that rationalistic spirit: Wissenschaft. And, in particular, Socrates embodies the optimism of Wissenschaft. He does not accept the underlying conditions of existence: he thinks he can change them by thought, can think his way to a solution, can use thought to conquer the fear of dying, can ‘correct Being by Knowing’ (‘dass das Denken das Sein … zu corrigieren im Stande sei’). As such, he dismisses all traditional instinctualintuitive responses to life, including, not least, those of the poets, who operate ‘only by instinct’ (‘nur aus Instinct’) – with which dismissive phrase he subverts the whole creative basis of Greek art and culture.14 With all his denials (Nietzsche insists), Socrates creates nothing, and what Socrates and Socratism deny above all is Dionysus, the ultimate creative principle. Therefore (and for Nietzsche this bit of logic is unchallengeable), Socratism can have no Apollo: without suffering, no beauty; without darkness, no light; without truth, no redeeming illusion. Socrates himself is not an artist; is dismissive of art; has no understanding of art. As such, Socrates is (yes) a ‘monstrosity’ (‘eine Monstrosität’) and (yes) ‘the most questionable phenomenon of antiquity’ (‘diese fragwürdigste Erscheinung 13

GT 10–15: KGW 3. 1, 67–98. Rationality as Apolline: see Silk and Stern 1983, 285-6. ‘Beauty ... intelligibility’ and ‘aesthetic Socratism’: GT 12: KGW 3. 1, 81 and 83. N’s sense of the importance of S to the first book is summed up by the fact that, some months before its actual publication, he had a version of its central sections (8–13) privately published under the title, ‘Socrates and Greek Tragedy’ (‘Sokrates und die griechische Tragödie’: KGW 3. 2, 93–132): Silk and Stern 1983, 58. 14 See especially GT 15, 17–18: KGW 3. 1, 93–8, 105–16. ‘Wissenschaft’: see Silk and Stern 1983, 78, 395–6 n.11. ‘Correct’: GT 15 (KGW 3. 1, 95). ‘Instinct’: GT 13 (KGW 3. 1, 85): N’s version of Plato’s phusei tini (above, p. 39).

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des Alterthums’). In misunderstanding art, he is misunderstanding existence – which is itself an art-work – or (at least) only as an art-work, or (as Nietzsche puts it) ‘only as an aesthetic phenomenon’, can existence be ‘eternally justified’.15 In terms of the constitutive symbols of The Birth of Tragedy, Socrates represents a direct and drastic challenge to Dionysus; and because the Dionysiac is the life-blood of tragedy, the theoretical world-view of which Socrates is spokesman represents the supreme challenge to the tragic worldview. It may seem paradoxical that the Socratic-Socratistic world-view should be so powerful, when its outcomes – from the ‘cynicism’ of Socrates’ corrupted pupil Plato to the debasements of the journalistic-academic culture of Nietzsche’s own day – are apparently so disappointing.16 Yet the power of the Socratic-Socratistic is made very clear. Socrates is not merely incompatible with Dionysus, or opposed to Dionysus; he is opposite to Dionysus. Ontologically, he is surely nothing, next to Dionysus; pragmatically, though, he is commensurate with Dionysus and, as Nietzsche’s vivid language assures us, apparently even a sort of divinity like Dionysus. He operates with ‘divine naïveté and assurance’ (‘göttliche Naivetät und Sicherheit’); he is a ‘newborn daemon’ (‘neugeborner Dämon’), a ‘demigod’ (‘Halbgott’) and a ‘daemonic power’ (‘dämonische Kraft’); we are to recognize in him ‘the new Orpheus who rose up against Dionysus’ (‘den neuen Orpheus, der sich gegen Dionysus erhebt’). And a particular proof of divine affinity is his aptly named daimonion (‘Dämonion’): that strange negative impulse, recorded by Plato, which could not inspire Socrates to act, but only to hold back from action.17 Paradox among paradoxes: the overpowering nature of Socrates’ rationality is proof that this rationality is itself a divine force. That is, Socrates’ rationalizing disposition to reject everything that works ‘only by instinct’ is itself an instinct and, as such, must have, ultimately, a lifeenhancing positive power – which is the position that Nietzsche, by his own version of rational argument, proceeds to adumbrate in this first, extraordinary book. Not only is there now a new and honourable ‘mode of existence’ (‘Daseinsform’), which Nietzsche calls ‘theoretical man’ 15

See especially GT 13–14: KGW 3. 1, 84–92. ‘Monstrosity’ and ‘questionable phenomenon’: GT 13 (KGW 3. 1, 86). ‘Aesthetic phenomenon’: ‘nur als aesthetisches Phänomen ist das Dasein und die Welt ewig gerechtfertigt’ (GT 5: KGW 3. 1, 43); the dictum is repeated with a difference in GT 24 (KGW 3. 1, 148), ‘nur als ein aesthetisches Phänomen das Dasein und die Welt gerechtfertigt erscheint’ (‘only as an aesthetic phenomenon are existence and the world seen to be justified’); see Silk and Stern 1983, 294–6. 16 Cf. O’Flaherty 1976, 140–1. ‘Cynicism’: GT 14 (KGW 3. 1, 89). Journalism and academic culture: GT 20 (KGW 3. 1, 125–7). 17 GT 13, 12, 13, 13, 12, 13: KGW 3. 1, 87, 79, 86, 86, 84, 86. Daimonion: Plato, Apology 40a, Theaetetus 151a, Euthyphro 3b.

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(‘theoretischer Mensch’), and of which Socrates is the archetype; in particular, he argues, Socratism has the capacity to expose its own limits. Driven by the illusory optimism that is essential to it, the ‘scientific’ spirit is carried irresistibly onwards to its very ‘horizons’, where that optimism ‘runs aground’.18 The first signs of that process are to be found (we learn) in the mighty philosophies of modern Germany, in Kantian critiques and Schopenhauerian pessimisms, albeit these are not quite Nietzsche’s critiques and no longer Nietzsche’s pessimisms. At all events, the ultimate logic of Socratic logic is to undo itself; and at the appalling moment when the full force of this cataclysm becomes clear, ‘tragic understanding [‘die tragische Erkenntniss’] breaks through – which, merely to be endured, needs art as protection and remedy [‘als Schutz und Heilmittel’]’.19 Thus can contemporary culture be transformed into a new tragic age, a Wagnerian age, in which dark Dionysiac truth is acknowledged and Apolline art re-forms in all its profuse diversity.20 But there is something more. Amidst this hoped-for profusion, Nietzsche floats a new, paradoxical possibility suited, maybe, to the modern world, ‘the birth of an artistic Socrates’ (‘die Geburt eines “künstlerischen Sokrates”’): a vision of a new kind of being, that can only be wholly unlike Socrates himself – the inartistic one, the despiser and misunderstander of art. The ‘artistic Socrates’ is a vision of the philosopher-artist, and, as such, a model for, and ultimately a model of, Nietzsche himself, who, as a uniquely qualified post-Socratic, ‘shares the dilemma and repudiates it’.21 Correspondingly, The Birth of Tragedy itself is a first attempt at a hybrid philosophical idiom, in which art is enacted, as well as – merely – explicated.22 Throughout his career, Nietzsche will conduct versions of this enacted argument against argument, experimenting with one art-mode after another, from the heated imagery of the first book to the shaped aphorisms of his later collections, from the expansive prose poetry of Zarathustra to the 18

GT 15: KGW 3. 1, 93–8. ‘Mode of existence’/‘theoretical man’: KGW 3. 1, 94. ‘Horizons’/‘runs aground’: KGW 3. 1, 97. On N’s own ‘logic’ here, cf. Silk and Stern 1983, 361. 19 GT 15: KGW 3. 1, 97. N pursues the theme in GT 18: KGW 3. 1, 111–16. 20 GT 18-21, 24-5: KGW 3. 1, 111–36, 145–52. 21 ‘Artistic Socrates’: GT 14 (KGW 3. 1, 92). In GT 15 and 17 (KGW 3. 1, 98 and 107) N speaks rather of ‘der musiktreibende Sokrates’, literally ‘the music-making S’, but to be understood as a variant of ‘the artistic S’, with ‘Musik’ used as code for Greek mousikê, ‘art’ (Silk and Stern 1983, 193–4, 395 n.9, 411 n.13: cf. 395–6 n.11, 403 n.16). Hence it comes about that N can simply identify his artistic S with Shakespeare, in a note of late 1870 or early 1871: ‘Shakespeare … ist der musiktreibende Sokrates’ (KGW 3. 3, 210 [131]). The once familiar misinterpretation of the phrase as ‘music-making S’ is still perpetuated by e.g. Sorgner 2004 (‘music-making’) and Porter 2000, 90–1, 111, 117 (‘music-practicing’). ‘Model of N himself’: notwithstanding the absence of any explicit self-identification, along the lines of the one-off ascription to Shakespeare (above). ‘Shares the dilemma’: Silk and Stern 1983, 193. 22 On the hybrid idiom of GT, see Silk and Stern, 1983, 188–209, 332–80.

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personal voicings of his last work – and, in the first instance, the experiment bears Socrates’ name. With or without the ‘artistic Socrates’, Nietzsche’s response to Socrates is a distinctive one. From familiar ancient sources (mostly Plato), and with a bit of unacknowledged help from Hegel (whose Socrates is already a turningpoint in history), and also a cue or two from Aristophanes (whose seeming hostility to the philosopher is explicitly commended), Nietzsche constructs a new, complex archetype.23 The energy that has gone into the construction reflects both Socrates’ representative place in Greek cultural history and his ability to symbolise the problem of the place of thought in life: a problem that needs to be faced and worked through (and here indeed we can find some common ground with Nehamas) in the attempt to understand the possibilities of humankind both then and now. And Socrates, though notionally then, does assuredly exert a presence, for Nietzsche, now. The positive symptom of this presence, widely overlooked but richly revealing, is the peculiar way that Nietzsche presents Socrates in a kind of psycho-dramatic fiction, whereby the reader is invited into a kind of ‘secret history’ by which are made visible the inner workings, with or without a correlative outer context, of the (un)creative mind. Elsewhere in The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche does this with Euripides: With all the brilliance and agility of his critical thinking, Euripides had sat in the theatre, straining to uncover, in the masterpieces of his predecessors, feature after feature, line after line … He sat there in the theatre, pondering uneasily …

as in his later writings he does it with Wagner, Wagner was ashamed … He was ashamed all over again. He thought about it long and hard, his situation seemed desperate …

and with God: The old God, all ‘spirit’, all high priest, all perfection, takes a walk in his garden; but he is bored … What does he do? He invents man – man is entertaining …24

In this first book he also does it, and very explicitly, with Socrates:

23

On the ancient sources, see Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment, Introduction and chs 1, 3 and 4. In GT 15 (KGW 3. 1, 96) S is explicitly ‘the one turning-point and vortex [‘Wendepunkt und Wirbel’] of so-called world history’, where N follows Hegel’s presentation of S in the 1840 edition of his Lectures on the History of Philosophy: see Dannhauser 1974, 91, and Most in this volume. For N on Aristophanes on S, see GT 13 (KGW 3. 1, 84), though Aristophanes’ actual attitude to S is, arguably, not so straightforward (cf. Silk 2002, 415–17). 24 GT 11, WA 4, AC 48: KGW 3. 1, 76–7; 6. 3, 14; 6. 3, 48.

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Let us now imagine that one great Cyclops eye of Socrates [‘Denken wir uns jetzt das eine grosse Cyklopenauge des Sokrates’] fixed on tragedy – an eye in which the fair frenzy of artistic inspiration [‘der holde Wahnsinn künstlerischer Begeisterung’] had never glowed. Imagine this eye, denied the pleasure [‘Wohlgefallen’] of gazing into the Dionysiac abyss. What exactly must it have seen in the ‘sublime and acclaimed’ art of tragedy (as Plato calls it)? Something utterly irrational [‘recht Unvernünftiges’], full of causes without apparent effects, and effects without apparent causes … To Socrates it seemed that … 25

In Nietzsche’s writing, the psychodramatic mode is often accompanied by a hint of a tease, as here with the caricaturing overstatement of the ‘Cyclops eye’ (we all know the remorseless Socrates is no pin-up, but …), as indeed also with the seemingly ironic understatement of the ‘pleasure’ of a look into the abyss. More important: the mode signifies problem and presence, and Socrates is both. In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche sets out to subvert a traditional image of Greece as an ideal realm of serene, optimistic, rational enlightenment, which he does, not least, by redefining Socrates as an eccentricity and an aberration, albeit an aberration of central significance, for Greece and for the world to come. This argument is both qualified and amplified in two unpublished writings of the following years. In ‘Science and Wisdom in Conflict’ (‘Wissenschaft und Weisheit im Kampfe’), a set of notes from 1875,26 Nietzsche is concerned to place Socrates against the earlier traditions of Greek philosophy. The Socrates that emerges from this scrutiny is like, but not identical with, the Socrates of The Birth of Tragedy. The portrayal is still hostile, perhaps more hostile, but the grounds of the hostility have shifted. The Presocratic philosophers, from Thales to Democritus, constitute (Nietzsche tells us) a series of unique figures, each reaching out towards a higher wisdom, each responding to his predecessors in an open-minded spirit; but with Socrates, this series comes to an end. In Empedocles and Democritus, in particular, Greek thought can be seen to be moving towards ‘a correct appraisal of the pain and irrationality of existence’ – but just at the most sensitive moment, along comes Socrates, with his ‘odious pretension to happiness’ (‘die garstige Pretension auf Glück’) and his ‘cold-prudential virtue’ (‘die kalt-kluge Tugendhaftigkeit’), and the chance is lost. Socrates now diverts, and subverts, the whole course of Greek thinking into moralistic abstractions, with momentous consequences. He creates a 25

GT 14: KGW 3. 1, 88. In N’s German, the Dionysiac ‘abyss’ is untranslatably plural (‘Abgründe’). 26 KGW 4. 1, 172–96 (6 [1–51]). ‘Wissenschaft und Weisheit im Kampfe’ is strictly not the title of the notes, but of a prospective work (N’s Nachlass contains many such) to which most or all of the group of notes clearly relate. The title is set out at 4. 1, 172 (6 [4]) and again at 173 (6 [5]) and 175 (6 [6]), and is alluded to twice again at 194 (6 [48] and [50]), in connection with Thales.

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following for those ‘unpleasant abstractions, “Goodness” and Justice”’ (‘die greuliche Abstrakta, “das Gute, das Gerechte”’). He makes ‘anxiety about the self’ (‘Angst um sich selbst’) the soul of philosophy and turns the natural activity of living into a kind of virtuoso specialism, almost a kind of professional expertise. With Socrates, the open-mindedness and independent-mindedness of Greek philosophy is at an end: he needs followers; the logic of his quest is ‘to reproduce himself’ (‘selbst zu erzeugen’); he belongs with the sectarianism of the philosophical schools – Platonists and Peripatetics, Epicureans and Stoics – that come after him.27 From these propositions it is apparent that the earlier stress on Socrates the rationalist has given way to a critical focus on Socratic ethics and (more generally) Socratic humanism, which was implicit in The Birth of Tragedy, but not foregrounded there. Significantly, it is in this set of hostile notes that we find the confession that ‘Socrates … stands so close to me that I am fighting a battle with him almost all the time’ (‘Sokrates … steht mir so nahe, dass ich fast immer einen Kampf mit ihm kämpfe’): the context of that dictum sufficiently indicates how far Nietzsche is from any sense of ‘fondness’ for his problematic subject.28 In ‘Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks’ (‘Die Philosophie im tragischen Zeitalter der Griechen’, written slightly earlier, in 1873), Nietzsche surveys the same period, albeit in more continuous prose.29 Quite which Socrates this short treatise would have presented is an open question, because at Anaxagoras, before Socrates, it breaks off. Perhaps significantly, though, here we learn not only that ‘the Greeks invented the archetypes of philosophical thought’, but that the archetypal series runs, or is due to run, past Democritus to include Socrates himself. But whatever else he might be, this Socrates, at least, cannot be the originator of dissociated thought, because that title seems here to have been won by Parmenides, whose abstractness is strongly contrasted with the intuitive philosophizing of Heraclitus.30 To judge from Nietzsche’s notes of a few years earlier – the 27

KGW 4. 1, 192 (6 [48]) and 183 (6 [25]). ‘Pretensions’: KGW 4. 1, 178 (6 [14]) and 179 (6 [15]). ‘Virtue’: KGW 4. 1, 179 (6 [15]). ‘Abstractions’: KGW 4. 1, 183 (6 [25]). ‘Anxiety’: KGW 4. 1, 182 (6 [21]). ‘Virtuoso’ (‘mit Sokrates beginnen die Lebensvirtuosen’) and ‘reproduce’: KGW 4. 1, 180 (6 [17]). ‘Sectarianism’: KGW 4. 1, 177 (6 [11]), 190 (6 [44]), 192 (6 [48]). 28 KGW 4. 1, 173 (6 [3]). In the ‘WWK’ sequence there are signs of other shifts from N’s position in GT. There is, for instance, an indication (nowhere fully explained) that S, far from being the epitome of Wissenschaft, actually ‘destroyed’ it (‘vernichtete die Wissenschaft’): KGW 4. 1, 184 (6 [26]). Again, there is a striking claim (KGW 4. 1, 178: 6 [13]) that, whereas Homer’s ‘glorious’ (‘herrlich’) Achilles dealt briskly with that ‘ugly man of the people’ Thersites, the ‘ugly man of the people’ Socrates carried out the people’s ‘revenge’ by doing the same to the glories of myth; here the talk of ‘revenge’, albeit in a context (‘myth’) compatible with GT, anticipates the characterisations of S in the 1880s (below, pp. 48, 51). 29 KGW 3. 2, 293–366. 30 ‘PTZG’ 1–2 (Socrates) and 9 (Parmenides/Heraclitus): KGW 3. 2, 298–306 and 329–33.

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years during which the symbols and the schemata of The Birth of Tragedy were worked out – his original candidate for the title of first Greek rationalist was neither Socrates nor even Parmenides, but actually Democritus.31 The symbolic-representative character of the ‘Socrates’ of The Birth of Tragedy is at this point peculiarly apparent. The next phase of Nietzsche’s career is marked by ill health, by his resignation from his university position (in 1879), and by a series of volumes of aphorisms written between 1878 and 1882: Human, All Too Human (Menschliches, Allzumenschliches), Dawn (Morgenröte) and Light-Hearted Philosophy (Die fröhliche Wissenschaft: usually translated Gay Science). With these books Nietzsche’s outlook shifts from the part-metaphysical to the part-positivist, from a neo-Romantic appeal to ‘divinity’ to a sort of perspectival atheism, directed against Christianity in particular. Now liberated from Schopenhauer, from Wagner, from Germany, Nietzsche looks to France – to Montaigne, La Rochefoucauld, Voltaire – and is even disposed to rethink the significance and meaning of art. With the Greeks themselves, he is now more open-minded, and Socrates is one of the beneficiaries of this open-mindedness. The new state of mind produces new Socrate(a)ses, both with and without the extra ‘a’. Against Christianity, the philosopher can be enlisted as an ally. In one aphorism, the martyred Socrates is praised ahead of Jesus for his ‘greater understanding’ (‘grösserer Verstand’), his ‘wisdom’ (‘Weisheit’) and, in particular, the ‘light-hearted character of his seriousness’ (‘die fröhliche Art des Ernstes’).32 At the same time a new archetypal Socrates comes into view: ‘the paths of the most diverse philosophical modes of life [‘die Strassen der verschiedensten philosophischen Lebensweisen’] lead back to him’.33 Now able to entertain the quasi-Platonic thought that ‘poets tell lies’ and the quasi-Platonic-Socratic position that ‘artists often don’t know what they do best’, Nietzsche, no doubt, is less offended by a noncreator (albeit both those claims are voiced without explicit reference to Socrates himself).34 However, other characterizations from this period are more equivocal. Socrates discovered the ‘charm’ (‘Zauber’) of cause and effect, and thus became the instigator of the modern taste for causal logic – but this is hardly Nietzsche’s taste, at this or any stage of his thinking.35 Yes, ‘I admire Socrates’ 31

See various notes of late 1867/early 1868, notably KGW 1. 4, 413–14 (57 [48]), and, most explicitly, 1. 4, 416 (57 [50]), ‘Demokrit … ist der erste Rationalist’; cf. likewise a note of 1869, relating Democritus to S himself, KGW 3. 3, 37 (1 [106]). 32 MA 2, 2. 86: KGW 4. 3, 230. 33 Ibid.: KGW 4. 3, 229–30. 34 FW 84 and 87: KGW 5. 2, 118 and 120. 35 MR 544: KGW 5. 1, 319. See e.g. FW 112 (KGW 5. 2, 151): ‘cause and effect: any such duality probably never exists’. This scepticism about causality is hard to separate from N’s

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courage and wisdom [‘Tapferkeit und Weisheit’] in everything he did, said – and did not say’, but then (there is, of course, a ‘but then’) ‘I do wish he had been silent at that last moment of his life; maybe then he would have belonged to an even higher class of spirits’ [‘eine noch höhere Ordnung der Geister’].36 And Nietzsche goes on to confront Socrates’ famous last words, mythologized in Plato’s Phaedo, ‘we owe a cock to Asclepius’.37 Asclepius is god of medicine, so that, on Nietzsche’s caustic reading, the words invite the gloss, ‘life is a sickness’ (‘das Leben ist eine Krankheit’), and the ultimate commitment of the seemingly optimistic instigator is exposed as a weak pessimism: ‘Socrates suffered from life. And with these veiled, terrible, pious and blasphemous words he took his revenge’ [‘Sokrates hat am Leben gelitten! Und er hat noch seine Rache dafür genommen – mit jenem verhüllten, schauerlichen, frommen und blasphemischen Worte!’].38 Again, in this same period, and with no equivocation, Socrates (along, now, with Plato) is charged with the ‘most profound mistake’ (‘jener tiefste Irrthum’) about morality: the belief that right knowledge engenders right action.39 To this period, too, belongs a quaint suggestion about Socrates’ daimonion: ‘perhaps an ear-infection [‘ein Ohrenleiden’], which, in accordance with the moralising mode of thought he was ruled by [‘seine herrschende moralische Denkungsart’], he only interpreted differently from the way it would be interpreted now’.40 If this seems an obvious enough tease, it is nevertheless a damaging one. The extraordinary inner voice which, for the young Nietzsche, was evidence of divine powers is now reduced to a deeply unglamorous medical condition, and a chapter in the history of revealed religion to a case study for the pathologist. Meanwhile, closer inspection of the praise of Socrates over Jesus reveals that Socrates’ ‘wisdom’ there is actually a ‘trickster’s wisdom’ (‘Weisheit voller Schelmenstreiche’).41 In short: while we certainly have some new Socrate(a)ses from this phase of Nietzsche’s work, the signs of admiration for Socrates here are conditional and problematic. One cannot plausibly isolate them, let alone convert them into some long-held view of Socrates as the ‘ideal philosopher’, however familiar that kind of false move may have become in readings of Nietzsche and his ideas.42

proto-constructivism, summed up in a note of 1887: ‘the world seems logical to us, because we have made it logical’: KGW 8. 2, 82 (9 [144]). See further Poellner 1995, 29–78, 192–8. 36 FW 340: 5. 2, 249. 37 Phaedo 118: tôi Asklêpiôi opheilomen alektruona. 38 FW 340: KGW 5. 2, 249–50. 39 MR 116: KGW 5. 1, 116. 40 MA 2, 1. 126: KGW 4. 2, 122. 41 MA 2, 2. 86: KGW 4. 3, 230. 42 ‘Ideal’: Kaufmann 1974, 403. On the ‘false move’, cf. n.2 above.

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In Nietzsche’s final phase, his concentration on the twin targets of morality and Christianity intensifies: morality as a threat to the possibilities of ascending life; and Christianity as a prime embodiment of decadence, which now becomes a significant preoccupation in its own right – decadence as both the diagnostic condition of modernity and a perennial concomitant of the human condition itself. At the same time, there is a qualified reversion to preoccupations of his earlier work: art, as a positive, albeit still a conundrum; dissociated thought, as a threat to art; and the Greeks, as implicit antonym to modern decadence.43 The works of this period begin with the new ‘poetic’ experiment, Thus Spake Zarathustra (Also sprach Zarathustra, 1883-5) and end with the brilliant tirades of his last active year (1888), including the autobiography, Ecce Homo, and Twilight of the Idols (Götzendämmerung), which contains a notable section entitled ‘The Socrates Problem’ (‘Das Problem des Sokrates’). Effectively, Twilight of the Idols presents us with Nietzsche’s final Socrates: a decadent, a rationalist-moralist, and implicitly, still, a non-creator – albeit in ‘The Socrates Problem’ itself the issue of inartism is elided or assumed.44 Here, Nietzsche begins by problematizing ‘wisdom’ and revisiting Socrates’ death: In every age the wisest men have passed the same judgement on life: useless … Socrates, even, said as he died: ‘Living – means having a long sickness: I owe a cock to saviour Asclepius.’ Even Socrates had had enough. What does that show? … Were they all (these ‘wisest men in every age’) … perhaps … decadents? Über das Leben haben zu allen Zeiten die Weisesten gleich geurtheilt: es taugt nichts … Selbst Sokrates sagte, als er starb: “leben – das heisst lange krank sein: ich bin dem Heilande Asklepios einen Hahn schuldig.” Selbst Sokrates hatte es satt. – Was beweist das? … [D]iese Weisesten aller Zeiten … [w]aren sie vielleicht allesammt … décadents?45

For Nietzsche, decadence (which exists in every culture and era, but is only dominant in certain cultures and eras) is essentially a psychological condition: its hallmarks are the attraction to what harms oneself, the ‘broken will to live’, the conflict between instincts, the need to fight the instincts; its converse is marked by ‘excess of energy’, natural self-reliance, totality and 43

For N, decadence and the Greeks, see Silk 2004. The curious overall contour of N’s intellectual career recalls the three-stage dialectical pattern, ‘a > not-a > A’, identified by J.P. Stern as ‘a characteristic form’ of N’s own argumentation: see Stern 1979, 160–1, and Silk and Stern 1983, 351–2. 44 In GD, compare and contrast ‘The Socrates Problem’ with the sequence at the very end of the book, in ‘What I Owe to the Ancients’ (‘Was ich den Alten verdanke’) 4–5, on Greek tragedy: KGW 6. 3, 61–7 and 152–4. 45 GD, ‘Das Problem des Sokrates’, 1: KGW 6. 3, 61 (first marks of ‘omission’ N’s, the others mine).

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harmony of instincts.46 The ramifications of decadence are everywhere, and Socrates is one of its, and their, paradigms. In what does Socrates’ particular decadence consist? Nietzsche begins (teasingly?) with external symptoms – the philosopher’s paradoxical appeal across the tracks (no aristocrat, but the darling of the aristocrats) and, in particular and once more, his looks, his famous ugliness: Socrates was from the gutter. Everyone knows, everyone can see for themselves, how ugly he was. But ugliness, an objection in itself, among Greeks is almost a refutation. Was Socrates a Greek at all? … Anthropologically-minded criminologists tell us the typical criminal is ugly, monstrum in fronte, monstrum in animo [deformed physically, deformed mentally]. But the criminal is a decadent. Was Socrates a typical criminal? Sokrates war Pöbel. Man weiss, man sieht es selbst noch, wie hässlich er war. Aber Hässlichkeit, an sich ein Einwand, ist unter Griechen beinahe eine Widerlegung. War Sokrates überhaupt ein Grieche? … Die Anthropologen unter den Criminalisten sagen uns, dass der typische Verbrecher hässlich ist: monstrum in fronte, monstrum in animo. Aber der Verbrecher ist ein décadent. War Sokrates ein typischer Verbrecher?47

And now Nietzsche introduces a famous anecdote from later antiquity: A foreign visitor to Athens, who knew about faces, told Socrates to his face that he was a monstrum – that he harboured within him every kind of odious depravity and lust. And Socrates only answered: ‘You know me, sir.’ Ein Ausländer, der sich auf Gesichter verstand, sagte, als er durch Athen kam, dem Sokrates in’s Gesicht, er sei ein monstrum, – er berge alle schlimmen Laster und Begierden in sich. Und Sokrates antwortete bloss: “Sie kennen mich, mein Herr!” 48

Notwithstanding its New Testament overtones (‘you know me – Lord’?), this story derives from Cicero: the physiognomer Zopyrus accuses Socrates of secret vitia, and Socrates says, ‘Well, I was born with them [vitia insita], but I used my rationality to keep them at bay [ratione a se deiecta]’.49 And, for 46

See a host of passages in N’s late writings, especially in AC and GD, various of them cited in Silk 2004, 593–8. ‘Broken will’: AC 50 (KGW 6. 3, 227). ‘Excess of energy’: GD, ‘Was ich den Alten verdanke’, 3 (KGW 6. 3, 152). 47 GD, ‘Das Problem des Sokrates’, 3: KGW 6. 3, 62–3. 48 Ibid.: KGW 6. 3, 63. 49 Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 4. 37. 80. In its syntactic simplicity, as well as in its specific phraseology, S’s words recall innumerable passages from Luther’s New Testament, some famous and distinctive, many not. Thus: Matthew 25.12, ‘Herr, Herr, tu uns auf! Er antwortete ... Ich kenne euch nicht’; Mark 7.28, ‘Sie antwortete aber und sprach zu ihm: Ja, Herr’; John 7.28–9, ‘Ja, ihr kennet mich . . . Ich kenne ihn’; John 20.28, ‘Thomas antwortete und sprach zu ihm: Mein Herr und mein Gott!’; Acts 9.13, ‘Ananias aber antwortete: Herr, ich habe von vielen gehört’; Acts 22.8, ‘Ich antwortete aber: Herr, wer bist du?’; Hebrews 8.11, ‘Erkenne den Herrn!

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the moment satisfied with anecdotes, Nietzsche pauses to restate the signs of decadence in Socrates. There is his malicious sarcasm; the ‘auditory hallucinations’ (‘Gehörs-Hallucinationen’) that manifest themselves as his daimonion; the dissoluteness and anarchy of his instincts; and then the exaggerated growth of his logical faculty (itself, surely, an instinct, albeit here Nietzsche suppresses the thought).50 And the exaggerated and the secret belong together – Everything about him is exaggerated, buffo, caricature; at the same time, everything is hidden, reserved, underground – Alles ist übertrieben, buffo, Karikatur an ihm, Alles ist zugleich versteckt, hintergedanklich, unterirdisch –

while it must be the contradictions of decadence that explain Socrates’ moralism as well: I am endeavouring to understand what idiosyncrasy begat that Socratic equation, ‘reason = virtue = happiness’: that most bizarre of equations and one which has all the instincts of the earlier Hellenes particularly against it. Ich suche zu begreifen, aus welcher Idiosynkrasie jene sokratische Gleichsetzung von Vernunft = Tugend = Glück stammt: jene bizarrste Gleichsetzung, die es giebt und die in Sonderheit alle Instinkte des älteren Hellenen gegen sich hat.51

And Socrates’ irony likewise requires an explanation – that famous eirôneia which (according to Plato’s classic testimony) leads him to claim ‘wisdom’ only because he alone knows he knows nothing.52 Is it, perhaps, a kind of ‘revenge’ (‘Rache’)? – the ressentiment of the gutter (‘Pöbel-Ressentiment’)? 53 We seem to be joining up dots: ‘connect “wisdom” and “gutter” – by means of … “irony”?’. A tease? another tease? And what now of Socrates’ new dialectical methods? What Socrates discovered (Nietzsche assures us) was a new kind of agôn, a new kind of competitive display – and the Greeks loved competitive displays.54 But equally, dialectics is a form of bad manners; it Denn sie sollen mich alle kennen’. In these contexts, ‘Herr’ is regularly Luther’s equivalent of (New Testament) Greek kurios, ‘Lord’. Though N’s ‘bloss’ has a different ring – in the words of the Brothers Grimm (1860, s.v. ‘blosz’), ‘Luther verwendet es noch nicht für tantum, solum’ – the Lutheran allusion overall serves to align the decadence of S with the decadence of Christianity; and Christianity, for N, is a uniquely complete instantiation of the very ‘formula’ for decadence (AC 15: KGW 6. 3, 180). For uses of the Zopyrus story before Nietzsche, see McLean in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. 50 GD, ‘Das Problem des Sokrates’, 4: KGW 6. 3, 63. 51 Ibid. 52 Plato, Apology 20d–23b. 53 GD, ‘Das Problem des Sokrates’, 7: KGW 6. 3, 64. 54 Ibid. 8: KGW 6. 3, 65.

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devitalises an opponent by a kind of clowning – at which point (joining up some more dots), Nietzsche makes his appeal, tacitly, to an Aristotelian distinction between the eirôn (the ironist who makes his victim laughable) and the bômolokhos (the clown who is himself victimized by laughter), with the thought that ‘Socrates was the clown [‘der Hanswurst’] who got himself taken seriously’ (‘der sich ernst nehmen machte’).55 Which, of course, prompts the thought: how ‘seriously’ are we to take this ‘taking seriously’? And now comes the most crucial issue of all: Socrates’ displacement of the instincts (the other instincts?) in favour of rationality. And first a new and crucial bit of psycho-history: Socrates … saw behind his Athenian aristocrats; he grasped that his case, the idiosyncrasy of his case, was no longer exceptional … And Socrates understood that the whole world had need of him – his expedient, his cure, his personal knack of self-preservation … Everywhere the instincts were in anarchy … the monstrum in animo was the universal danger … the instincts had turned against each other. Sokrates … sah hinter seine vornehmen Athener; er begriff, dass sein Fall, seine Idiosynkrasie von Fall bereits kein Ausnahmefall war … Und Sokrates verstand, dass alle Welt ihn nöthig hatte, – sein Mittel, seine Kur, seinen Personal-Kunstgriff der Selbst-Erhaltung … Überall waren die Instinkte in Anarchie … das monstrum in animo war die allgemeine Gefahr … [dass] die Instinkte sich gegen einander wendeten.56

Socrates’ capacity to ‘see behind’, no doubt, is the corollary of his own hidden depths, of which his irony is a symptom: the ironist is in control, behind his irony. One is reminded of a note of 1885: I believe the magic of Socrates was this: he had one soul and, behind that, another one and, behind that, another one. Ich glaube, dass der Zauber des Socrates [sic] der war: er hatte eine Seele und dahinter noch eine und dahinter noch eine.57

Meanwhile, Dr Socrates comes up with his new remedy: rationality (‘Vernünftigkeit’). The medicine is gratefully accepted, and (or but) – The fanaticism with which the whole of Greek cogitation applies itself to rationality betrays a state of emergency: there was danger, there was only one choice: either perish – or be absurdly rational [‘absurd-vernünftig’].58 55

Ibid. 5: KGW 6. 3, 64. For the Aristotelian terms, see Nicomachean Ethics 2.7, 4.7–8, Eudemian Ethics 3.7, Rhetoric 3.18, and Silk 2002, 232. 56 GD, ‘Das Problem des Sokrates’, 9: KGW 6. 3, 65 (third set of marks of ‘omission’ N’s, the others mine). The ancient authority for this Socratic understanding of the ‘anarchic’ condition of the whole world is, presumably, the depiction by the Platonic Socrates of the paranomia in the psyche of ‘each one of us’: Plato, Republic 571a–2b. 57 KGW 7. 3, 160 (34 [66]).

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At which point Nietzsche adds a significant explanatory gloss to the, as yet unexplained, relation between Socratic rationalism (a target since The Birth of Tragedy) and Socratic moralism (by now, if anything, a more urgent target): ‘“Reason = virtue = happiness” simply means one must imitate Socrates and counter the dark desires with a permanent daylight – the daylight of reason [‘das Tageslicht der Vernunft’]’.59 But (Nietzsche insists) this equation doesn’t add up. No: ‘Socrates was a misunderstanding [‘ein Missverständniss’]; the entire morality of improvement (including Christian morality) has been a misunderstanding’. For It is self-deception [‘ein Selbstbetrug’] on the part of philosophers and moralists to imagine that by making war on decadence, they thereby extricate themselves from it … What they choose as remedy [‘als Mittel’], as deliverance [‘als Rettung’], is itself only another expression of decadence: they modify its expression, they do not eliminate the thing itself …

and, in particular, in Socrates’ Athens and ever since, The harshest daylight, rationality at any cost, life clear, cold, circumspect, conscious, without instinct, in opposition to instincts, was itself just a sickness, another sickness. Das grellste Tageslicht, die Vernünftigkeit um jeden Preis, das Leben hell, kalt, vorsichtig, bewusst, ohne Instinkt, im Widerstand gegen Instinkte war selbst nur eine Krankheit, eine andre Krankheit.60

And finally Nietzsche turns to Socrates’ death once more, and offers us his own – as well as Socrates’ – last, decisive words: Did he grasp this himself, that cleverest of all self-deceivers? Is this what he said to himself, at last, in the wisdom of his courage in the face of death? … Socrates wanted to die: it was not Athens; he gave himself the poisoned cup; he drove Athens to it … ‘Socrates is no physician’, he whispered to himself: ‘Death is the only physician here … All this time, Socrates himself has just been sick …’ Hat er das selbst noch begriffen, dieser Klügste aller Selbst-Überlister? Sagte er sich das zuletzt, in der Weisheit seines Muthes zum Tode? … Sokrates wollte sterben: – nicht Athen, er gab sich den Giftbecher, er zwang Athen zum Giftbecher … “Sokrates ist kein Arzt, sprach er leise zu sich: der Tod allein ist hier Arzt … Sokrates selbst war nur lange krank …” 61

58

‘Das Problem des Sokrates’, 10: KGW 6. 3, 66. Ibid. 60 Ibid. 11: KGW 6. 3, 66–7. 61 Ibid. 12: KGW 6. 3, 67 (marks of ‘omission’ N’s). These ‘last’ words on S are not necessarily N’s final pronouncement of any kind. Note also the comment from EH (composed in the same frenetic months, but notionally later), cited below, n.63. 59

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Last words, last bit of psycho-history, indicative of problem and presence – and last tease? Socrates is a decadent, a sick man, a ‘wise’ man, but only on some ironic level (he is also a clown) – and ‘cleverest of all self-deceivers’. How are we to respond to this set of characterisations? In contrast to the anecdotal paraphernalia of ugly faces and last words, there is, of course, nothing here that could be judged in terms of ‘facts’, irrespective of how far we might agree with Nietzsche himself, who proposes, around this time, that there are no facts, ‘only interpretations’.62 Which does not, in itself, make any of these particular ‘interpretations’ a tease – but then again, there is a decidedly teasing resonance to them, in their late-Nietzschean context. To anyone familiar with the works of Nietzsche’s last phase, especially his autobiographical Ecce Homo, these characterizations of Socrates evoke a series of self-characterisations – all implicated in the philosopher’s elusive irony, but all temptingly relatable. Some are relevantly qualified: ‘I am a decadent [‘ein décadent’]’, he writes, ‘I am also its opposite [‘auch dessen Gegensatz’]’; and again, ‘even in periods of terrible sickness [‘in Zeiten schwerer Krankheit’], I have never been sick-ly [‘krankhaft’]’ – but (to complicate matters) these self-positionings come from the opening sections of that astonishing autobiography, sections entitled, precisely, ‘Why I Am So Wise’ (‘Warum ich so weise bin’) and ‘Why I Am So Clever’ (‘Warum ich so klug bin’).63 If Socrates was a ‘clown’ (the clown, ‘der Hanswurst’, who ‘got himself taken seriously’), Nietzsche too can declare, on his own behalf: ‘I do not want to be a saint; I would even rather be a clown … Perhaps I am a clown … [‘Vielleicht bin ich ein Hanswurst …’]’.64 But then again, his identification of Socrates as ‘self-deceiver’ (‘Selbst-Überlister’) stands in the sharpest contrast to his own claim to the ‘self-overcoming of morality, out of truthfulness’ (‘die Selbstüberwindung der Moral aus Wahrhaftigkeit’) and the ‘self-overcoming of the moralist into its opposite, into me’ (‘die Selbstüberwindung des Moralisten in seinen Gegensatz – in mich’), given (and for Nietzsche it is a given) that ‘I have the knack of inverting perspectives’ (‘ich habe die Hand dafür, Perspektiven umzustellen’).65 It was Freud who said of Nietzsche that he had ‘a more penetrating knowledge of himself than any other man who ever lived or was ever likely to live’,66 and that remarkable claim presupposes Nietzsche’s own. 62

In a note of 1886/7: KGW 8. 1, 323 (7 [60]). EH, ‘Warum ich so weise bin’, 2, and ‘Warum ich so klug bin’, 10: KGW 6. 3, 264 and 294. The first of these two self-characterisations, on decadence, follows a page after the summary pronouncement that S offers the ‘most celebrated case’ of all cases of decadence (‘im allerberühmtesten Fall: im Fall des S’): EH, ‘Warum ich so weise bin’, 1 (KGW 6. 3, 263). 64 EH, ‘Warum ich ein Schicksal bin’, 1: KGW 6. 3, 363 (marks of ‘omission’ N’s). 65 EH, ‘Warum ich ein Schicksal bin’, 3, and ‘Warum ich so weise bin’, 1: KGW 6. 3, 365 and 264. 66 Quoted by Ernest Jones (Jones 1953, 344). 63

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At this juncture, the issue of irony seems to have a special relevance. Nietzsche sees himself (‘perhaps’) as a ‘clown’, ironically (perhaps); and the ‘clown’ Socrates is the very archetype of irony. It may seem strange, here in particular, that the ironist Nietzsche should make so little of Socrates’ irony, while making so much of his rationalism, his moralism, his ‘decadence’. This down-playing of Socratic irony does make sense, but a Nietzschean sense, and a decidedly un-Socratic sense, that, accordingly, helps to clarify Nietsche’s underlying position. As Nietzsche made clear as early as The Birth of Tragedy, Socrates’ irony is negative: it is intimately associated with his denial of any instinctive claim to wisdom, and it allows a positive claim to wisdom only by elimination. For Nietzsche, Socrates’ rationalism is negative, his equational moralism is negative, his whole anti-instinctual programme of salvation is negative, as of course his non-creativity is negative – and his irony is no different. Socrates is negative, even – or especially – in his selfknowing, his acknowledgement of his own life-long ‘sickness’ unto death. Appropriately, his final ‘wisdom’ – the ‘wisdom of his courage in the face of death’ – can itself only be realized by his own elimination: ‘Socrates wanted to die’. Socrates’ famous irony is testimony, no doubt, to his distinctive ‘cleverness’, but any foregrounding of irony now would only be a distraction from the decisive negativity that he embodies on a more systemic basis. The self-knowing philosopher-artist knows better. Nietzsche’s early vision of ‘the artistic Socrates’ – of himself, presumably and prospectively, as ‘the artistic Socrates’ – made the fundamental contrast between himself (positive) and the actual Socrates (negative) apparent. For the late Nietzsche, the contrast is subsumed within his latest nexus of preoccupations, which one might sum up – sweepingly, but for the purpose fairly – as the struggle of the existential yes-sayers (Zarathustra, Dionysus, Nietzsche himself) against the forces of decadence, contemporary and perennial. Spanning, though it does, whole arts and whole outlooks, decadence involves, for Nietzsche, an ultimate and decisive no: a withdrawal from creative existence. In this spirit, he can even float the thought that one of the greatest of all modern creative figures, the musical-theatrical genius Richard Wagner, because decadent, is perhaps not really musical, therefore no true creator at all.67 And the negations and eliminations that are so characteristic of the supreme non-creator, Socrates, are paradigmatic in this same spirit. Socrates, for Nietzsche, is no creator and, therefore, no educator; rather, a cautionary tale, a pathological case, of an, admittedly, absorbing kind. But no creator, no educator; and, in the end, Dr Nietzsche can offer his diagnosis without a tease.

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* The reading of Nietzsche’s Socrate(a)ses offered is very much a literary reading. Should it, could it, be anything other? Any reading of Nietzsche raises, no doubt, the fundamental hermeneutic question, how to read a philosopher-artist; and any reading of his responses to Socrates raises that question, perhaps, with a peculiar sharpness. As with so much of Nietzsche’s work, the appeal of his presentations of Socrates lies partly in their provocative power, and that, in turn, depends partly on the vividness of his dramatizations. As the two most vivid portrayals – in The Birth of Tragedy and Twilight of the Idols – make apparent, what Nietzsche is concerned to recreate at any given time is a distinctive presence, a construction which is historically attached but also dramatically ‘now’. As constructions, these ‘presences’ can be seen to be made up of at least five elements: pre-existing biographical anecdote (or ‘Socratic’ testimony, mostly from Plato, converted into biographical anecdote); preexisting philosophical positions (or slogans); Nietzsche’s own reading of Greek cultural history as paradigmatic; his particular insistence on the trajectory of Greek cultural history from instinctive creativity to a more or less moralising rationalism; and, not least, the new psycho-dramatic fiction, that (all but) ingenuous symptom of art – but one called into being as symptom of (all but) life. Life: the word is seldom far away in discussions of Nietzsche. Socrates, for Nietzsche, is to be judged by and within life. The Socrates that Nietzsche constructs, in all its versions, is situated not within, precisely not within, philosophical method or argument, ‘thought’ in some dissociated sense, but within life, as a phenomenon in need of valuation, or transvaluation, from the perspective of life. Nietzsche’s philosophical-artistic works, notoriously, are hard to separate from his own life: understanding of the one tends to entail appreciation of the other. In this light, his overall treatment of Socrates – who is, for Nietzsche, life without works, but also life against life – is as representative as it is distinctive.

Refere nces Ahern, D.R. (1995), Nietzsche as Cultural Physician, University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press. Dannhauser, W.J. (1974), Nietzsche’s View of Socrates, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

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Grimm, J. and W. (1860), Deutsches Wörterbuch, vol. 2 (‘Biermörder – Dwatsch’), Leipzig: Hirzel. Jones, E. (1953), The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, vol. 2, London: Hogarth Press. Jovanovski, T. (1991), ‘Critique of Walter Kaufmann’s “Nietzsche’s Attitude Toward Socrates”’, Nietzsche Studien 20: 329–58. Kaufmann, W. (1974), Nietzsche: philosopher, psychologist, Antichrist (4th edn), Princeton: Princeton University Press. Ledbetter, G.M. (2003), Poetics Before Plato, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Nehamas, A. (1998), The Art of Living: Socratic reflections from Plato to Foucault, Berkeley: University of California Press. O’Flaherty, J.C. (1976), ‘Socrates in Hamann’s Socratic Memorabilia and Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy’, in J.C. O’Flaherty, T.F. Sellner and R.M. Helm (eds), Studies in Nietzsche and the Classical Tradition, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 134–43. Poellner, P. (1995), Nietzsche and Metaphysics, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Porter, J.I. (2000), The Invention of Dionysus: an essay on The Birth of Tragedy, Stanford: Stanford University Press. Schmidt, H.-J (1969), Nietzsche und Sokrates: philosophische Untersuchungen zu Nietzsches Sokratesbild, Meisenheim: Anton Hain. Silk, M.S. (2002), Aristophanes and the Definition of Comedy (rev. edn), Oxford: Oxford University Press. Silk, M.S. (2004), ‘Nietzsche, Decadence, and the Greeks’, New Literary History 35: 587–606. Silk, M.S. (2005), Review of Ledbetter 2003, International Journal of the Classical Tradition 12: 293–6. Silk, M.S., and Stern, J.P. (1983), Nietzsche on Tragedy (rev. edn.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Sorgner, S.L. (2004), ‘Who is the “music-making Socrates”?’, Minerva 8: 1–21. Stern, J.P. (1979), A Study of Nietzsche, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tanner, M. (1990), Introduction to Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols and The Antichrist, tr. R.J. Hollingdale, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 7–24.

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~ Taylor & Francis

~ Taylor & Francis Group http://tayl ora ndfra ncis.com

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4 Later views of the Socrates of Plato’s Symposium James Lesher From the time of Plotinus, in the third century of the common era, down to the present day, Plato’s Symposium has exercised an enormous influence on European thought. As one recent commentator has observed, the afterlife of the Symposium is ‘very nearly as broad as the breadth of humane letters in the West; in the matter of Quellenstudien, it is not a spring, but a mighty river’.1 And, whatever other significance one might wish to assign to the dialogue, it seems likely that one of its main aims was to highlight Socrates’ extraordinary qualities of mind and character.2 The comparison of Socrates to the statues of the Silenus, his extended bouts of distraction, poverty and indifference to the extremes of heat and cold, fondness for beautiful boys, power to charm his followers, use of common forms of speech, and his exercise of the elenchos or ‘testing through cross examination’ are all on display here. As a consequence, no account of Socrates’ legacy would be complete that did not consider the ways in which the Socrates portrayed in the Symposium lived on in the minds and works of later writers and artists. Two distinct, if sometimes connected, views of Socrates have their origins in the Symposium: Socrates as a mystagogue or spiritual guide, and Socrates as a paragon of ‘philosophical virtue’. Socr ates as s pirit ual g uid e The view of Socrates as one who guided others to a more spiritual way of life has its roots in the speech Socrates offers in the Symposium in honor of Erôs, the god of love or, more precisely, ‘passionate desire’.3 The occasion for his 1

Allen 1991, vii. Cf. Bury 1932, xix–xx: ‘For one main motive of the dialogue as a whole is to exhibit the sophia of Socrates, his intellectual as well as moral supremacy’; similarly ‘... it is in the portrait of the ideal Socrates that the main object of the dialogue is to be sought’ (lxv). 3 Sym. 201d–212b. Greek erôs may be translated into English either as ‘love’ or ‘desire’ but it 2

From Socrates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, ed. M.B. Trapp. Copyright © 2007 by M.B. Trapp. Published by Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Gower House, Croft Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 3HR, UK. 59

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encomium is the dinner party held at the home of the tragic poet Agathon to celebrate his victory in Athens’ spring drama festival. In accordance with an agreement that each symposiast will speak in praise of ‘the great god Erôs’(177c), Socrates offers an account reportedly taught to him by an Arcadian priestess named Diotima (201d–212b).4 As Diotima explained it to Socrates, Erôs is not a god but a spirit who moves in an intermediate region between gods and men. As ‘divinity for intermediate affairs’, Erôs is concerned neither with ignorance nor wisdom but with something in between the two, the love of wisdom, or philosophia. To speak in mythical terms, as the child of Poverty and Resource, Erôs is needy like his mother and a hunter of wisdom like his father. Erôs manifests itself in human affairs as a desire to acquire the good and possess it forever. So, in a sense, what all people ultimately seek is their own happiness, and for as long a period as possible. Some decide to achieve a form of immortality by having children; others seek ‘undying fame’ through composing poems or founding cities; while still others become teachers of the young. Yet not even this insight into the nature and functions of Erôs discloses the greatest mysteries. He who would gain that understanding must begin by responding to the physical beauty of a young man and giving birth in him to the kind of discourse that will enable him to acquire virtue. Next, he must come to appreciate the beauty in all beautiful bodies, and after that, the beauty of character or soul. He must then go on, in a process likened to ascending the steps of a staircase, to discover beauty in activities such as composing speeches, crafting laws and constitutions, and pursuing scientific or philosophical understanding. At some point, as he moves through this ‘vast ocean of beauty’, the lover will at last experience a marvellous insight into Beauty’s essential nature. Here, in communing with Beauty Itself, he will live the finest life possible for a human being and impart genuine virtue to others. is more precisely a passionate love or desire, typically sexual in character. In fragment B7 the Sophist Prodicus defines erôs as ‘desire (epithumia) multiplied by 2’, while ‘erôs multiplied by 2’, he adds, ‘is madness’. One can feel erôs toward different sorts of things – objects and activities as well as persons – just as we might speak of politics, chess, or philosophy as ‘the ruling passion of one’s life’ – and this feature of the term will play an important role in Plato’s account. 4 Although some have claimed that Diotima was a real person Plato provides several indications that she is a creature of his own invention. Not only is she a prophetess (mantis) who is said to come from Mantineia (or ‘prophet-town’), Socrates states that she enabled the Athenians to delay the onset of the plague by ten years. This remark serves to move Diotima out of an historical framework into a legendary one. (If someone had actually succeeded in delaying the onset of the plague we would almost certainly have heard about him or her in some other ancient account.) In the Meno Plato has Socrates credit another essentially spiritual doctrine (that in its previous life the soul has learned all things) to ‘priests and priestess’ (81b) and concedes that ‘prophets and tellers of oracles’ have the capacity to utter many truths even if they are no position to know whether or not they are true. Here in the Symposium it would be entirely appropriate for an account that links love to achieving immortality to be presented by a priestess.

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This account of Erôs differs markedly from its predecessors in the dialogue. While each of the previous speakers focused on the particular aspect of Erôs he happened to know best or care the most about, Socrates discusses Erôs in all its manifestations and stages of development. 5 Perhaps its most novel suggestion is the idea that intellectual pursuits have the power to fire the imagination and passions just as much as any physical beauty.6 What seems to be the main conclusion is a view that Plato will consider important enough to return to again and again in other dialogues: the best and most fully appropriate object of human desire is philosophia, i.e. a life devoted to the contemplation of a set of eternal, perfect, and unchanging realities. Given the novelty, scope, and explanatory power of Socrates’ speech it is hardly surprising that many later readers, especially philosophers, focused their attention on it, often to the complete neglect of other portions of the dialogue. Yet what Socrates offered to his dinner companions was more than a philosophical discourse on the nature of Erôs. Diotima was, after all, a religious figure, a priestess who spoke to Socrates in language drawn from Greek mystery religion: theômenos ephexês – ‘viewing things in proper order’, pros telos êdê iôn – ‘moving now toward a final stage’, and exaiphainês katopsetai – ‘he will suddenly see’ (210e3–4), etc. In addition, the story she told concerned nothing less than the means by which a mortal being can achieve union with a perfect, eternal, and divine being. For many later writers, especially those engaged in defining Christian doctrine during its formative period, Socrates’ speech provided a framework for understanding a truth of the utmost importance – that love is not simply an aspect of human life but the means by which mortal beings can ascend from the physical realm to become united with God. The theme of an ascent to heaven on a celestial ladder of love became a central feature of later religious thought.7 In the Enneads, for example, Plotinus redescribes the ascent in the terms of his own metaphysical theory: The born lover … has a certain memory of beauty but, severed from it now, he no longer comprehends it: spellbound by visible loveliness he clings amazed about that. His lesson must be to fall down no longer in bewildered delight before some one embodied form; he must be led, under a system of mental discipline, to physical beauty everywhere and made to discern the One 5

Phaedrus focuses on Erôs as the power that inspires personal relationships like the one he enjoys with Eryximachus; Eryximachus, a physician, offers a view of Erôs in the terms of current scientific theory; Aristophanes, the story teller, tells a charming story about a race of original spherical creatures who, after being split down the middle by Zeus, yearn for reunion with their missing other half; Agathon, a poet, offers a flowery panagyric and Pausanias, a pederast, offers a defense of pederasty. 6 A point made in Vlastos 1981. 7 For a general discussion with many illustrative examples see Nygren 1953.

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Principle underlying all … he must learn to recognize the beauty in the arts, sciences, virtues; then these severed and particular forms must be brought together under the one principle by the explanation of their origin. From the virtues he is to be led on to the Intellectual Principle, to the AuthenticExistent; thence onward, he treads the upward way.8

Following Plotinus’ lead Proclus affirms that ‘The whole chain of Love … extending from the source of Beauty, draws all beings toward it, invites them to share in it, and mediates between the Beloved and its aspirant lovers’.9 The ladder simile appears in the writings of Gregory of Nyssa,10 Origen,11 Bonaventura,12 Bernard of Clairvaux,13 Pseudo-Dionysius,14 and Augustine, 15 as well as in Dante’s account of the poet’s ascent from Saturn to the realm of the fixed stars.16 But while Socrates’ speech gave later religious thought one of its most enduring motifs, Socrates himself does not always figure in the story. As we have seen, for Plotinus it is ‘divine beauty’ that first imparts beauty to the world and then, through that created beauty, draws the world back to itself. On such a view there is neither need nor place for any human intermediary. Many later, Christianized versions of the ascent story give us much the same picture – it is God himself, or God in his three-fold nature, who enables the souls of the faithful to return to their spiritual home.17 Socrates regained a place in the story at the outset of the Renaissance in the influential De Amore or Commentary on Plato’s Symposium on Love of Marsilio Ficino, published in 1484.18 Ficino speaks of Socrates as one of three ancient thinkers who had collectively discovered and imparted to mankind a correct understanding of love’s true nature. As Ficino explained the process of discovery, Plato learned the truth about love from Socrates, 8

Enneads, 1.3.2. Gregory 1991, 171. 10 Graef 1954, 97. 11 See Contra Celsum 7.46. 12 See his Itinerarium mentis in Deum, Prologue 3. 13 See the Sermones de diversis 4.10. 14 See his On Divine Names 7.3. 15 See the Confessions 7.17. 16 Musa 1984, 28–30. There are visual representations of the celestial ladder by Sandro Botticelli (see Clark 1976, 197), Giovanni de Paolo (Taylor and Finley 1997, 224–5), also from the Renaissance, and by Gustave Doré in the nineteenth century (Taylor and Finley 182–3). Mazzeo 1956, 316 comments: ‘... the Paradiso is the truly Platonic moment of Dante’s universe, for here we see the beloved doing her saving work through her ever-increasing beauty, luring Dante through love up the ladder of light and beauty to the threshold of absolute reality and, having fulfilled her purpose, leaving him to other agencies to finish his journey’. 17 As Martin Luther expressed this idea: ‘He Himself as descended and furnished a ladder; the Father suffered Him to be made a child … to be crucified and to rise again’ (quoted in Nygren 1953, 707). 18 See Hankins in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. 9

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who learned it from Diotima who, as one might expect of a priestess, got it directly from God.19 The profound truth they collectively discovered was that while human love comes in many different forms, one particular kind of love, inspired by the perception of physical beauty (through eyes and ears but in no other way), has as its direct object the soul of the beloved and, beyond that, the divine itself.20 Ficino expressed the view of Socrates as a spiritual figure in a letter to the theologian Paulo Ferobanti: It was not through any rough simplicity, but rather through unique mental excellence and (as Plato and Xenophon testify) inborn godlike and prophetic powers that throughout his life he put eternal before mutable goods … Indeed, he neglected his own interests and fearlessly, like a doctor of souls, set about purifying men’s thoughts everywhere in his native land.21

Ficino’s account of a special ‘Socratic love’ – or as it became more commonly known, ‘Platonic love’22 – sparked the creation of a large number of ‘treatises on love’, especially in Italy and Spain, during the next several centuries. Works such as the Platonic Discourse upon Love of Pico della Mirandola, the Dialogues on Love by Leone Ebreo, Pietro Bembo’s Gli Asolani, and Baldesar Castiglione’s enormously popular Book of the Courtier spread the concept of Socratic or Platonic love beyond a small circle of humanist scholars to writers and artists throughout Europe. Socrates himself does not appear as a character in all of these accounts, although there is occasionally a Socratestype figure (such as the aged hermit of Bembo’s Gli Asolani who explains the truth about love to the gentleman Lavinello). The image of Socrates as guide to a higher realm has reappeared in many literary works, down to the twentieth century. Delmore Schwartz describes

19

In his letter of dedication to the Italian edition of the De Amore Ficino wrote: ‘In order to lead us back to the straight path which we had missed, the supreme love of Divine Providence inspired a chaste woman in ancient Greece called Diotima the priestess, who, under divine inspiration, finding the philosopher Socrates devoted above all else to love, explained to him what this ardent passion is and how by means of it we can fall into the greatest evil, or soar to the highest good. Socrates, in turn, revealed these holy mysteries to our Plato ...’ (Ficino 1985, 180). 20 One of countless later echoes of this notion may be heard in Spenser’s Hymne of Heavenly Beauty, St.4, 1–4: ‘Beginning then below with th’ easie view/Of this base world, subject to fleshly eye/From thence to mount aloft by order dew/To contemplation of th’ immortall sky’. 21 From Book VIII of Ficino, Epistularum familiarum libri XII (text in Ficino 1576, 1, 868), trans. J. Hankins; for the whole text of this letter, and discussion of its context, see Hankins in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. 22 In the De Amore Ficino speaks only of a ‘Socratic love’. The phrase ‘Platonic love’ is thought to occur for the first time in a letter from Ficino to Alamanno Donati (see Ficino 1985, 174n4). See Blanshard in this volume for the suggestion that one factor that may have influenced the switch from ‘Socratic’ to ‘Platonic’ was a widely shared suspicion that Socrates was not as immune to the charms of beautiful boys as Alcibides’ story made him out to be.

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Socrates’ ‘ghost’ guiding him toward a deeper understanding of love and its power to lead us to a higher, ‘noumenal’ realm.23 Socrates’ ghost must haunt me now, Notorious death has let him go. He comes to me with a clumsy bow, Saying in his disused voice, That I do not know I do not know, The mechanical whims of appetite Are all that I have of conscious choice, The butterfly engaged in electric light Is my only day in the world’s great night. Love is not love, it is a child Sucking his thumb and biting his lip, But grasp it all, there may be more! From the topless sky to the bottomless floor With the heavy head and the fingertip: All is not blind, obscene, and poor. Socrates stands by me stockstill, Teaching hope to my flickering will, Pointing to the sky’s inexorable blue – Old Noumenon come true, come true!24

In Diotima’s Dead Robert Graves suggests that Socrates misunderstood Diotima’s teaching, at least until it became clear that she did not have physical or bodily immortality in mind: Diotima’s dead – how could she die? Or what says Socrates, now she is dead? Diotima’s wisdom he might credit While she still looked at him with eyes of love: He could his life commit to Diotima, Clear vessel of the Word’s divinity, Until she cloaked herself in deathward pride And ruin courted by equivocation – Did he not swear then, she had always lied? Scholars, the truth was larger than herself. The truth it was she had told Socrates (Though peevish in his immortality 23

The term ‘noumenal’ is drawn from the philosophy of Kant (but ultimately from the Greek noumena – ‘things thought’). Kant devised the term in order to contrast things encountered in sense experience (the phenomena) from things encountered through intellection (the noumena). 24 Schwartz 1967. Schwartz also incorporated a reference to Platonic metaphysics in his In the Naked Bed, in Plato’s Cave (1967), which seems to focus on the sights and sounds of daily life with at least the suggestion – from the very mention of Plato’s Cave – that there is more to be discovered of life’s meaning than meets the eye and ear.

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And starving for what meats the God forbade) Until her vision clouded, her voice altered, And two lives must have ended, had he stayed.25

One of the more extended developments of the idea of Socrates as spiritual guide is T.S. Eliot’s The Cocktail Party. It has recently been argued (Reckford 1991) that Eliot’s play must have been inspired, at least in part, by Plato’s Symposium (even though Eliot himself identified Euripides’ Alcestis as his classical model). Clearly, both titles mean ‘drinking party’, both works feature ‘libations’, and both describe merry scenes in ways that mask deeper philosophical and religious concerns.26 Reckford identifies the character of Sir Henry Harcourt-Reilly as the Socrates figure who provides both spiritual therapy and moral insight. Julia Shuttlethwaite, who ‘represents the highest spiritual wisdom’, represents Diotima. And when a failed marriage leads Celia Copleston to doubt that she will ever love again, HarcourtReilly/Socrates offers her an alternative pathway, which is essentially the spiritual path: There is another way, if you have the courage … The second is unknown, and so requires faith – The kind of faith that issues from despair. The destination cannot be described; You will know very little until you get there; You will journey blind. But the way leads toward possession Of what you have sought for in the wrong place (673, 678–683).

Among the earliest visual representations of the Socrates of the Symposium may be an ancient bronze relief found in Pompeii. Some have characterized the scene displayed there as Socrates being instructed by Diotima, with an Erôs figure hovering between the two.27 In more recent times there has been a sketch of ‘Socrate et Diotime’ (Fig. 4.1) done by Jacques-Louis David,28 and series of paintings of Socrates and Diotima by the contemporary Swiss artist Hans Erni (see Erni 1971). 25

Graves 1999. Reckford 1991, 305. A connection between Eliot’s play and the Symposium was suggested at an earlier date in Yoklavich 1951. Socrates also appears with Diotima in poems by Sir Frederick Napier Broome (1868), Robert Burdet (1542), William Johnson Cory (1859), Robert Edward Duncan (1999), Galway Kinnell (1960), Percy Bysshe Shelley (1904), Alfred Lord Tennnyson (1907–08). A listing of sources as well as the full texts may be obtained at Literature Online (http://lion.chadwyk.com). 27 Now in the collection of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples (see Zanker 1995, 37). It has recently been claimed (Schwarzmaier 1997) that the relief actually shows Erôs being taught to read by a silenus under the supervision of Aphrodite. See also Geiger’s discussion in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. 28 Contained in a volume of sketches recently purchased by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. 26

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Two 20th-century musical works have also drawn on the Symposium for their views of Socrates. In 1917 Erik Satie took portions of Alcibiades’ speech in the Symposium, along with passages from the Phaedrus and Phaedo as texts for his Socrate or ‘Symphonic drama in three parts for voices and small orchestra’.29 Interpretations of Socrate vary,30 but some critics have seen the music’s spare and sombre nature as an attempt to capture something of Socrates’ spirituality.31 In 1954, Leonard Bernstein composed his ‘Serenade after Plato’s Symposium for violin, strings, harp, and percussion’ to celebrate the memory of what he called Plato’s ‘timeless dinner-party’.32 The work consists of a series of movements based on the series of speeches presented during the course of the evening, with the final ‘Socrates section’ pulling together and encompassing each of the themes presented in earlier movements. The series of dramatic chords at the outset of this section suggests that a truth of some profundity is about to be revealed. In 1997, in the midst of a controversy surrounding a proposed ‘gay rights’ amendment to the State constitution, the Theaterworks Company of Colorado Springs, Colorado created its ‘musical version of Plato’s Symposium’, All about Love.33 The main aim of this production, according to one of its authors, was to promote a broader and more tolerant view of love, of seeing Socrates as one who leads others ‘up from earthly into heavenly

29

Satie 1920. Satie’s Socrate Suite was subsequently arranged for dance by John Cage with choreography by Merce Cunningham (1944, 1947). 30 For a representative sample see the account in Gillmore 1988, 218–20. 31 Cf. the comment of Satie’s supporter René Chalupt: ‘Erik Satie’s attempt at an unpedantic and intuitive interpretation conveys perhaps more clarity about the spiritual aura of Socrates and the essence of the Greek soul than many a thick scientific tome’ (quoted in Mosch 1996, 126). Similarly R.H. Myers 1968, 56: ‘It is solitary music and could only have been conceived by a mind sensitive to beauty, but dwelling in a sort of spiritual atmosphere, in a rarefied isolation’; and Gillmore 1988, 220: ‘There is in Socrate an aloofness and emotional neutrality all the more poignant in its cool objectivity, “a kind of divine ennui”’. 32 Bernstein 1954, recently recorded by Hillary Hahn and the Baltimore Symphony conducted by David Zinman (SONY-ASK-60584). Bernstein’s Serenade has also served as the basis for two ballets: Jerome Robbins’ Serenade for Seven, performed at the Spoleto Festival in July 1959; and Christopher Wheeldon’s Corybantic Ecstacies (described in Dance Magazine, Vol. 73, No. 6 (June 1999), 78–79). 33 ‘All About Love: A Musical Based on Plato’s Symposium’, by M. Ross, M. Arnest, and L. Arnest, performed August 29–September 14, 1997, in Colorado Springs, Colorado (available on compact disc from the web site for this production). There has also been ‘Socrates in Love: A Dramatic Adaptation of Plato’s Symposium’ (performed at the University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia) and ‘Plato’s Symposium’, translated by P. Schimdt and produced by D. Schweizer, at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California, November 12, 1999. In 1968 the BBC presented The Drinking Party directed by Jonathan Miller and featuring Leo McKern in the role of Socrates. The program (distributed in the U.S. by Time Life Films but no longer available for purchase) presented Socrates as a headmaster being entertained by a group of his former students.

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love, from relatively cheerful simplicity into something rich and strange’.34 A decade earlier, in the midst of the growing AIDS crisis, the Los Angeles Powerhouse Theater presented an updated version of Plato’s Symposium intended, according to its producer and director, to highlight ‘the more creative and healing aspects’ of love.’35 Socrates’ speech was thought to go ‘most deeply to the heart of the matter. He examines the functions of love: procreation, the creation of beauty, and securing a place in eternity through immortal works.’ In these works Socrates’ spirituality provides the basis for a call for a more tolerant or inclusive understanding of the different forms of love and sexual desire.36 One might reasonably wonder about the credibility of the view of Socrates as a spiritual guide or ‘doctor of souls’. To mention just one complication: if we are inclined to regard Plato’s dialogues as ‘philosophical dramas’ in which a character named Socrates presents views that may have served one or more of Plato’s own dramatic or philosophical purposes, there is no reason to suppose that a person named Socrates actually espoused such views. Moreover, even if we do accept Plato’s portraits as genuine, in some dialogues Socrates seems less a religious teacher and more a zealous critic of all unfounded beliefs (including, in the Euthyphro, the passionate convictions of a self-style ‘religious expert’). A good case can also be made that at least some later writers chose to portray Socrates as an authority of religious matters primarily because that was precisely the portrait that best suited their purposes. And yet, perhaps ironically, the conception of Socrates as essentially a religious teacher may not be that far-fetched. The Apology, along with other ancient accounts, confirms that Socrates was charged with ‘believing in deities of his own invention instead of the gods recognized by the state’ (24b). It also portrays him as a man on a religious mission, called by God to bring his fellow Athenians to a greater appreciation of the importance of caring for their immortal soul, and all that would be entailed by such an effort.37 Xenophon’s Memorabilia also credits Socrates with a number of distinctly religious

34

Murray Ross, in the introduction to All About Love supplied with the CD produced by Mark Arnest and Lauren Krohn Arnest, Seat of Our Pants Productions (1998). 35 Plato’s Symposium at the Los Angeles Powerhouse Theater, 1986 (as reported in Appel 1986, 22–27). See also Arkatov 1986. 36 The enlisting of Socrates in a campaign for sexual tolerance goes back (at least) to the second half of the nineteenth century and the works of Symonds and Oscar Wilde. See the accounts by Jenkyns 1980, Dowling 1994, and Blanshard in this volume. 37 Cf. Apo. 30 a–b: ‘This, I do assure you, is what my God commands, and it is my belief that no greater good has ever befallen you in this city than my service to the God. For I spend all my time going about trying to persuade you, young and old, to make your first and chief concern not for your body nor for your possessions, but for the highest welfare of your souls ...’

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doctrines and precepts.38 For all we know, in other words, the view of Socrates as a spiritual guide might well lie close to the historical reality. Socr ates as par ag o n o f p hil oso p hic al virt ue I turn now to the second image of Socrates conveyed to many later readers by the Symposium – Socrates as a paragon of ‘philosophical virtue’ or ‘excellence in mind and character achieved through philosophical reflection’. It might reasonably be supposed that one of Plato’s aims in writing the Symposium was to show how Socrates’ engagement with philosophical thought endowed him with extraordinary powers of mind and character. Thus the various references to Socrates’ frequent trance-like states, his heroic conduct at Delium and Potidaea, his imperviousness to the extremes of heat and cold, his unimpaired capacity for philosophical conversation throughout a long night of drinking, and his ability to resist Alcibiades’ extraordinary beauty and calculated campaign of seduction. All these points come together in Alcibiades’ speech as he describes how Socrates, in the face of considerable provocation, succeeded in keeping his appetites and desires under firm control. The moral, or at least one moral, of Plato’s story would seem to be that Socrates succeeded, as Alcibiades did not, in acting in accordance with what Socrates described in the Crito as ‘that principle which appears to me to be the best on the basis of rational reflection’ (46b). Alcibiades’ encomium to Socrates was not entirely unknown during the Hellenistic and early Christian periods,39 but not until the Renaissance did it become the object of widespread interest. Even before the Symposium had been translated in its entirety into Latin, Alcibiades’ speech acquired some notoriety as one of the bawdier ancient texts. It was also the first portion of the dialogue to be made available, at least in bowdlerized form, in the Latin translation of Leonardo Bruni done in 1435.40 In the De Amore, however, Ficino chose to ignore the coarser aspects of Alcibiades’ speech and sought 38

For example: that the gods know everything about the thoughts and deeds of mortals and give numerous indications of their intentions to special individuals [1, 1, 20]; that we ought to give offerings to the gods [1.3.3], the the universe gives clear evidence of being created by an intelligent designer [1.4.7–19], that the will of the gods can be discovered through use of the techniques of divination [4.7.10], that Socrates never did anything without receiving the sanction of the gods [4.8.11], etc. 39 There are direct or indirect references to the Symposium portrait of Alcibiades in Epictetus, Discourses 2.18.22; Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights 1.9.9; Cornelius Nepos, Life of Alcibides 2; Lucian, Types of Love 49; John Cassian, Conferences 13.5.3; Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 5.215c–216c. 40 Hankins 1990, 80 states that ‘In Bruni’s version Alcibiades’ account of his attempted seduction of Socrates is high-handedly converted into a story of how Alcibiades pursued Socrates for his wisdom, and all other references to homosexuality, fluteplaying, and paganism are systematically expunged.’ The text of Bruni’s version of the seduction scene is included in Hankins 1990, 2, 399–400.

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to minimize its importance. As Ficino explained it, in praising Socrates Alcibiades was merely praising love, and if we wish to learn about ‘Socratic love’ we need only consult the speech of Diotima.41 One of the earliest visual representations of Socrates with Alcibiades is a sketch by Rubens done around 1602, now badly faded.42 Rubens appears to be giving us his take on the moment at which Alcibiades awards a wreath to Agathon before attempting to retrieve it when Socrates comes into view seated on the couch behind Agathon. Rubens’ Alcibiades can be seen to be ‘double dipping’, extending one wreath below to Agathon with his right hand while holding a second wreath above, extending it toward Socrates. A sketch done in 1793 by Asmus Jakob Carstens43 presents a simpler and more static version of the same scene – Alcibiades simply placing the crown on Socrates’ head with Agathon looking on (Fig. 4.2). An earlier etching by Pietro Testa, done in 1648,44 depicts Alcibiades as a sensuous, dancing distraction in contrast to the more rational Socrates who remains engrossed in philosophical conversation despite the distraction. In what is perhaps the best known painting based on the Symposium, the 1869 Das Gastmahl des Platon of Anselm Feuerbach (Fig. 5.2),45 Alcibiades is shown entering the dining chamber, decked out like the god Dionysus with a cohort of Bacchants, with Socrates (as in the earlier Testa etching) absorbed in serious conversation on the right hand side of the room. There have been different identifications of the figures depicted in Das Gastmahl,46 but if the caduceus wrapped around the lamp in the foreground signifies that the figure lying on the bench is the physician Eryximachus, and if that is Pausanias seated behind Agathon who occupies centre stage, then the distinguished looking gentleman conversing with Socrates is most likely to be Aristophanes. The figure against the wall, his gaze focused on Socrates, might be Aristodemus, Socrates’ devoted follower and the source of the 41

Speech VII, 2 in Ficino 1985 (as above), 157–8. Jayne comments: ‘[Ficino] simply ignores Alcibiades’ comment on Socrates as a bedfellow and instead adds to Speech VII a section praising Socrates as a teacher’ (9). 42 Illustrated and discussed in McGrath 1983, 42. 43 Alkibiades kränzt den Sokrates beim Gastmahl, which appears in Runes 1959, 84 labeled as ‘One of the Famous Platonic Banquets’. The work is now in the collection of the ThorvaldsenMuseum in Copenhagen. 44 McGrath 1983, 44. 45 Now in the collection of the State Museum in Karlsruhe, Germany. A full-colour reproduction appears in Benardete 1994, 6–7. My identification of the figures in the painting follows the analysis given by Heinrich Meier in the introduction in this volume. A second version of Das Gastmahl, painted in 1873, is housed in the collection of the National Gallery in Berlin. Michael Trapp has provided me with an image of the imitation of Feuerbach’s Gastmahl done by G.A. Spangenberg, representing Philosophy in a cycle of the Four Faculties, on the staircase of the main University building in Halle, Germany. 46 See Henderson in this volume.

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account related by the dialogue’s narrator Apollodorus. The painting’s main theme has been described as a representation, through its sharply contrasting left and right hand sides, of the two basic impulses in the human psyche – the sensualism of Alcibiades on the left, as opposed to the cool rationalism of Socrates on the right.47 There have also been many visual representations of Socrates’ attempt to lead Alcibiades away from his dissolute lifestyle and toward a life of virtue. Among the earliest of these are Alcibiades Receiving Lessons from Socrates (1777), by François-André Vincent,48 and Socrates Leading Alcibiades from the Dangers of a Sensual Life done sometime after 1785 by Jean-François-Pierre Peyron.49 There is also Socrates rescuing Alcibiades from the Arms of a Courtesan (1785 and 1791)50 by Jean-Baptiste Regnault, Socrates and Alcibiades (1793)51 by Étienne-Barthélémy Garnier, an 1807 plaster relief on the same theme by Pompeo Marchesi, and Socrates Seeking Alcibiades in the House of Aspasia (1861) by Jean-Léon Gérôme. Finally, we have Antonio Canova’s relief of Socrates Rescuing Alcibiades at the Battle of Potideia (1797)52 and a set of sketches of Alcibiades with Socrates done by Inigo Jones, now in the Devonshire Collection at Chatsworth.53 For many later writers, however, the image of Socrates as one who subordinated all his desires to philosophical reason seemed just too good to be true. In his Socrates and Alcibiades, a work later set to music by Benjamin Britten,54 the poet Hölderlin challenges the image of Socrates as a model of virtue immune to the charms of beautiful boys: “Why, holy Socrates, do you always pay homage to this youth? Do you know nothing greater? Why does your eye dwell upon him as upon gods?”

47

A view of the significance of the painting expressed by Feuerbach’s friend and biographer, Julius Allgeyer (as presented in Bratke and Schimpf 1980). 48 Cuzin 1988, plate 25. 49 Campbell and Carlson 1993, 177. 50 J.-B. Regnault, Socrate arrachant Alcibiade des bras de la Volupté, in the collection of the Louvre Museum, discussed in Sells 1977; the 1785 version of the painting was sold at Christie’s, Paris, in June 2002. 51 Campbell and Carlson 1993, 207. 52 Fig. 4.3, from Canova 1824. There is also a painting of this scene by P.V. Bassin, now in St. Petersburg, Russia, which seems to have been inspired by Canova’s piece. See Geiger in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. 53 Wood 1992, 265. For a discussion of the Socrates iconography see the accounts by Kekule von Stradonitz 1908, Hanfman 1951, Pigler 1938 and 1974, and Geiger and McLean in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. 54 See Bockholdt 1998 and Wintle in this volume.

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“He who has thought what is deepest loves what is most living; He who has looked out upon the world understands noble youth, And in the end the wise often bow their heads to that which is fair.” 55

Skeptical doubts concerning Alcibades’ portrait of Socrates as master of his carnal desires surface in both ancient and modern writings.56 Nor was the account of Socrates’ bravery in the face of the enemy always accepted at face value. Lucian challenged the Symposium portrait on both counts when he sought to show that no philosopher ever died in battle: The only one who dared to set out for the battle of Delium, their wise Socrates, fled all the way home from Parnes to the school of Taureas. He considered it far more urbane to sit down and make love to boys and put sophistries to the first comer than to fight a real Spartan.57

Two more recent fictional accounts of Socrates’ military exploits, Georg Kaiser’s The Rescued Alcibiades and Bertolt Brecht’s Socrates Wounded, stand in the same revisionist tradition.58 For these later readers, the Socrates of Plato’s Symposium remained a memorable figure, though not necessarily a believable one.59

Refere nces Allen, R. (1991), Plato. The Symposium (The Dialogues of Plato, Vol. 2), New Haven and London: Yale University Press. Appel, J. (1986), ‘Plato’s Symposium’, High Performance 9.4, 22–7. Arkatov, J. (1986), ‘Plato’s Symposium’, Los Angeles Times, July 29. Benardete, S. (1994), On Plato’s Symposium, Munich: Carl Friedrich von Siemens Stiftung. Bernstein, L. (1954), ‘Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium) for Solo Violin, Strings, Harp and Percussion’, New York: Jalni Publications/Boosey & Hawkes. Bockholdt, R. (1998), ‘Begegnung mit der Schönheit: Benjamin Brittens Vertonung von Hölderlins Sokrates und Alcibiades’, in P. Andraschke and E. Spaude (eds), Kunst-Gespräche: musikalische Begegnungen zwischen Ost und West, Freiburg: Rombach, 443–54.

55

Hölderlin in Spiegelberg 1964, 232. For an account of the impact of Plato’s thought on Hölderlin’s work see Harrison 1975, chapter 2. 56 See Blandshard in this volume. 57 Lucian, The Parasite 33, quoted in Spiegelberg 1964 36. 58 See the detailed discussions in Todd 1981, and White in this volume. 59 I am grateful to Michael Trapp, Eleanor Rutledge, and a number of conference participants for their comments on an earlier version of this paper.

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Bratke, E. and Schimpf, H. (1980), Anselm Feuerbach: 1829–1880 (published in connection with the Feuerbach exhibition at the Landesbildstelle RheinlandPfalz). Bury, R. (1932), The Symposium of Plato, Cambridge: W. Heffer and Sons, Ltd. Campbell, R. and Carlson, V. (1993), Visions of Antiquity: Neoclassical figure drawings, Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Minneapolis: Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Canova, A. (1824), The works of Antonio Canova, in sculpture and modeling, engraved in outline by Henry Moses; with descriptions from the Italian of the Countess Albrizzi, and a biographical memoir by Count Cicognara, vol. 2, London: Septimus Prowett. Clark, K. (1976), The Drawings of Sandro Botticelli for Dante’s Divine Comedy, New York: Harper and Row. Cuzin, J.-P. (1988), François-André Vincent (Cahiers du Dessin Français 4), Paris: Galerie de Bayser. Dowling, L. (1994), Hellenism and Homosexuality in Victorian Oxford, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press. Erni, H. (1971), Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre lithographié et gravé de Hans Erni, vol. 2, Geneva: Éditions Pierre Cailler. Ficino, M. (1576), Opera, Basel: H. Petri (reprinted 1959 and 1962). Ficino, M. (1985), Commentary on Plato’s Symposium on Love, tr. Sears Jayne, Woodstock, Conn.: Spring Publications. Gillmore, A. (1988), Erik Satie, Boston: Twayne Publishers. Graef, H. (1954), St. Gregory of Nyssa: The Lord’s Prayer, The Beatitudes, Westminster, MD.: The Newman Press. Graves, R. (1999), Complete Poems, vol. 3, Manchester: Carcanet Press. Gregory, J. (1991), The Neoplatonist Reader, London; New York: Routledge. Hanfman, G. (1951), ‘Socrates and Christ’, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 60: 205–33. Hankins, J. (1990), Plato in the Italian Renaissance, Leiden and New York: E.J. Brill. Harrison, R. (1975), Hölderlin and Greek Literature, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Jenkyns, R. (1980), The Victorians and Ancient Greece, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Kekule von Stradonitz, H.R. (1908), ‘Die Bildnisse des Sokrates’, Abhandlungen der Königlich Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2–58. Mazzeo, J. (1956), ‘Plato’s Eros and Dante’s Amore’, Traditio 12: 315–37. McGrath, E. (1983), ‘“The Drunken Alcibiades”: Rubens’s picture of Plato’s Symposium,’ The Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 46: 228–35 (plates on 42–4). Mosch, U. (1996), ‘Erik Satie: Socrate for Voices and Small Orchestra (1917–1918)’ in G. Boehm, U. Mosch, and K. Schmidt (eds), Canto d’Amore: Classicism in modern art and music: 1914–35, Basel: Paul Sacher Stiftung, 126–137. Musa, M. (1984), Dante’s Paradise, Bloomington: University of Indiana Press. Myers, R. (1968), Erik Satie, New York: Dover Publications Inc. O’Meara, J. (1992), Studies in Augustine and Eriugena, Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press. Nygren, A. (1953), Agape and Eros, Philadelphia: Westminster Press.

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Pigler, A. (1938), ‘Sokrates in der Kunst der Neuzeit’, Die Antike 14: 281–94. Pigler, A. (1974), Barokthemen: eine Auswahl von Verzeichnissen zur Ikonographie des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts, ed. 2, Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó. Reckford, K. (1991), ‘Eliot’s Cocktail Party and Plato’s Symposium’, Classical and Modern Literature 11: 303–12. Runes, D. (1959), Pictorial History of Philosophy, New York: Bramhall House. Satie, E. (1920), Socrate, drame symphonique en trois parties, avec voix, d'après les Dialogues de Platon, tr. Victor Cousin, Paris: La Sirène (also published as a cantata for four female voices and chamber orchestra). Schwartz, D. (1967), ‘Socrates’ Ghost Must Haunt Me Now’ and ‘In the Naked Bed, in Plato’s Cave’, Summer Knowledge: new and selected poems, 1938–1958, New York: New Directions. Schwarzmaier, A. (1997), ‘Wirklich Sokrates und Diotima?’, Archäologischer Anzeiger 1: 79–96. Taylor, C. and Finley, P. (1997), Images of the Journey in Dante’s Divine Comedy, New Haven: Yale University Press. Sells, C. (1977), ‘Socrate et Alcibiade de J.-B. Regnault au Louvre’, Revue du Louvre 45–6: 354–7. Spiegelberg, H. (1964), The Socratic Enigma, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. Todd, R. (1981), ‘Socrates dramatised: Georg Kaiser and others’, Antike und Abendland 27: 116–29. Vlastos, G. (1981), ‘The individual as an object of love in Plato’, in Id., Platonic Studies, ed. 2, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 3-42. Wood, J. (1992), ‘Inigo Jones, Italian art, and the practice of drawing,’ The Art Bulletin 74: 247–70. Yoklavich, J. (1951), ‘Eliot’s “Cocktail Party” and Plato’s “Symposium”’, Notes and Queries, December: 541–42. Zanker, P. (1995), The Mask of Socrates: the image of the intellectual in antiquity, Berkeley: University of California Press.

Fig. 4.1. J-L. David, Socrate et Diotime. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art.

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Fig. 4.2 A.J. Carstens, Alcibiades crowns Socrates at the Symposium (1793). Copenhagen: Thorvaldsen-Museum.

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Fig. 4.3 .Engraving after A. Canova, Socrates rescuing Alcibiades at the Battle of Potideia (1797).

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5 Ansel m Feuer bach’s Das Gastmahl des Pl aton John Henderson Wollt Gott, er könnte sein Talent in einem grossen Werke bezeugen! Darin ist er drei Jahrhunderte zu spät auf die Welt gekommen. (Frau Henriette Feuerbach, to Baron von Schach, Heidelberg 21.4.1866)1 As with just about every item in the legend of Anselm Feuerbach (1829– 80),2 his loving stepmother Henriette stepped in to mother reception of the painting of his life: he had referred to his titanic composition as Gastmahl, and signed and sealed the final version SUMPOSION (ill. 2: across the horns of the boukranion that stands proud of the frame, centre bottom); she retitled, rounding out to Gastmahl des Platon.3 The present essay will read the composition as ekphrasis, in terms of its visualization of Plato’s Symposium, and in terms of its resistance to this dynamic (its contestation, refusal, This essay is for Mary Beard, who was just as stunned by Gastmahl #2, and checked out its ‘Antinous’ for me. Another version appears in Martindale and Thomas 2006, 274–87. 1 Ahlers-Hestermann 1946, 31. My thanks to Michael Trapp for sending this acute essay my way. 2 Feuerbach’s mother died within a year of the birth of Anselm. His ‘archaeologist’ father Joseph Anselm remarried when his son was five. (This art historian earned a chair at Freiburg with a book on the ‘Apollo Belvedere’: Der Vaticanische Apollo. Eine Reihe archäologisch-ästhetischer Betrachtungen, Nurnberg, 1883; cf. Beard and Henderson 2001, 110–13.) Widowed in 1851, Henriette assiduously licked Anselm’s ego and career into shape until her death in 1892. For ‘their’ biography: Kupper 1993, with Zeittafel at 136–8, and full Bibliographie at 143–52, esp. 2. Feuerbach-Briefe, Aufzeichnungen at 144–5, featuring Anselm Feuerbach: Ein Vermächtnis. Hg. von Henriette Feuerbach. Wien 1882 [und zahlreiche weitere Auflagen. Als reprint: Hildesheim 1977], Kern, Guido J.; Uhde-Bernays, Hermann (Hg.): Anselm Feuerbachs Briefe an seine Mutter. 2 Bde. Berlin 1911 [die einzige weitgehend vollständige Edition der Briefe an die Mutter], Uhde-Bernays, Hermann (Hg.): Henriette Feuerbach. Ihr Leben in ihren Briefen [Auswahl]. Berlin 1912 [und 1913, München 1920, 1926: bis 19. Tausend], Feuerbach, Anselm: «Vermächtnis». Die originalen Aufzeichnungen. Herausgegeben und kommentiert von Daniel Kupper. Berlin 1992, etc. etc. 3 Keisch 1992, 7, reverting to Anselm Feuerbachs «Gastmahl». Ahlers-Hestermann 1946 accepts Anselm Feuerbach, Das Gastmahl des Platon – warning us not to make the mistake of thinking that Plato hosts the party! (7). Kupper 1993 prefers Das Gastmahl des Plato.

From Socrates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, ed. M.B. Trapp. Copyright © 2007 by M.B. Trapp. Published by Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Gower House, Croft Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 3HR, UK. 77

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denial). Feuerbach necessarily ‘re-writes’ the text of Plato’s Socratic ? dialogue? into art – but does the painter crash the party, and poop it for his own? And, if this he does, is it in or out of line with the [Socratic] teaching of ‘the symposium’ – whether Plato’s, the Feuerbachs’, ours or anyone else’s – from antiquity to the present? 1 The Gastmahl must be studied in its painting, in the process of its gestation, realization, and re-vision. Three versions come into the frame: a preliminary colour sketch, the first full opus, and its rival (##0–2). These are, respectively, in private hands, in the Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe, and in the Nationalgalerie, Berlin; but the artist’s genius lay, and was cemented there by his loved and loving mother’s best lifelong efforts, in his unique and finest creation – the painterly titanismo of Anselm Feuerbach himself.4 Behind and between his writings and his canvasses, search for the creator, the mentation. Reception of this composition must work through a triptych of related but contrasted conceptions of the nexus between matter, manner, and meaning. When Feuerbach joins the grand tradition of power thinking as a relay, after the prime and primal example of Plato, back to the fo[u]nt of Socratic inspiration, as his tribute of ekphrasis begs to filiate art to classic text, so his giant megalography bids to propriate wisdom for the painter. What could be more Platonic (more stepsonly) than the tension in Anselm’s struggle to bag the role of apostle? Plato – scourge of representation, artistic bane of Art. As ensemble, the triad of performances proclaims the sway of backdrop over foreground. Across ##0–1–2, main figures remain constant, in place; it is the architecture that shuffles, while supporting features work their modulation. Montage – the process of presentation, making present, marking as presence – rules. A synkrisis might identify here three components of ekphrastic art: mimesis, mythography, exhibitionism. In introducing the sequence of designs, I shall now peg them out to shape this triangle: #0: The (1861–6) sketch gets us through the paint to the destination.5 In the round, one single space – that space, from here to there, pivoting round the stationary tambourine player’s twirl, centred in her floor-segment. It is the moment of irruption into the scene. The rout to left breaks into ‘our’ interior stage from behind the picture plane. The [parsimonious] line of the here and now spans left-right along step, along bench and table. The standing frontal figure, reinforced by his rhyme stood in the corner behind 4

Feuerbach’s final years were devoted to a gigantic (!) Titanensturz (Kupper 1993, 111–13: 1875–8). 5 The Gastmahl idea was on Feuerbach’s mind from 1854; first sketches 1857 (Keisch 1992, 9; Ahlers-Hesterman 1946, 9).

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him, holds level with columns three, revolving doorway round vista, way out and way in. The backs of ms tambourine and recumbent-at-table both front and screen the tableau. This reredos plays two figures as two pillars; they hold two worlds separate. The master of ceremonies directs traffic. These host’s hands say ‘Cross the threshold, mind the gap, come join us. There is room inside. Here you are, here we are’. Why? To our right, backgrounded deep in the corner incised by the juncture of murals, by the pair of candlesticks which flank the shadowy bystander, and by encirclement with ‘his’ round table of companions, hunches the undemonstrative figure of thought bathed in light, significant anti-spectacle: (S)AGE. #1: Through the misty blue ([dawn?] of 1869),6 art is vector of myth. Lifesize figures bedeck a squared off, flattened-out proscenium. Steps intrude, treading left-right, effectively backing the rout back a pace. Floortiles seemingly align tambourinist and host, and the frieze-effect coded by the displayed bare sole of the recumbent, flat to the picture-surface, is reinforced by the nude expanse of tambourine’s torso, legs, and feet, and by the outward jab of the jutting elbow and frontal stare of the insurgent’s supporter.7 The narrative of ‘welcome to my parlour’ encounter, liminal challenge and reception is taken aback an instant. The pictorial narration insists on tripartition of spatial temporality, as the revellers are pushed back into the doorway, without moving an inch, to our left of the main pillar. In turn, the host now blocks out a centre space, in bold, buttressed by the obscured knee-clasping figure sat by him to obscure the vista back through the picture plane. The host himself blocks the third area, with only the recumbent’s out-thrust beard and gaze to cross the gap. The strengthened lines of the table bolster the architectural structure, as now garish columns decouple, to segregate both the late arrivals and the engrossed group at table. The backdrop murals straighten out the room, to provide centre stage with matching, ‘curtained’, wings. The somatic business of greetings ritual is dramatized. The work required to assimilate the entrant is now figured as stark antithesis. The cardinal responsibility of the host to shield guests takes the limelight. And a showdown call is on, for a powerful counter, to dominate and domesticate the influx. Yes, a story is enounced. #2: Art enshrines art; painting celebrates painting (1870–3).8 The monumental frame marks off the overpowering miracle of daubing.9 The [exiguous] space flattens out still more, heraldic. It’s not just the tilt of the floor tiles through 90°. The reveller’s support withdraws her elbow, and 6

First exhibited in Munich, 1869. The ‘muddy coloration’ of #1 won no critic’s acclaim: Keisch 1992, 14–15, Kupper 1993, 87. I must say I love the misty effect – à la ‘Aldobrandini Wedding’ (Beard and Henderson 2001, 58–60). 7 On these devices of surface and depth: Henderson 1996a. 8 First exhibited in Vienna, 1874. 9 The frame: esp. Keisch 1992, 7.

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tucks her frontal cupid flat into her skinny skirts; she now twins tambourinist, suddenly semi-clad in skin upon skin, and re-doubled with her own cheeky bummed cherub showing us the rear of his sole (yes, held to picture plane). The ‘holographic’ effects of the frame are sealed into the design, not least in the form of the niches which now hem in the columns to left and right. Frontal figures projecting within the confines of their recesses are just one manifestation of a cult of art objects. Crowding into this museum hoard of classical treasure comes a novel verdant urn suspended above the dancing tambourine. Incised and embossed, patterned to rhyme with the new ‘T’-shaped strip of relief plasterwork, the flourish of the niche ensemble, and the newly imported row made up of candelabrum, plus ornate column capitals – now re-doubled in the porch lowering behind the host’s head, and in the pillar that closes in the recess behind his right hand, itself containing yet more statuary. Even the lost left-right rushing wall-painting formerly above the tambourine is displaced to the base of the now truncated column in front of her. There the ‘she’ alights in the shape of a bas relief dancer, who swirls around to mirror back the tambourinist’s own gyration. In the enclosure behind the host, a grand niche of gleaming golden Victory replaces the framed mural’s Silenus and Bacchante in two-step, with a multiplex of trompe l’oeil protuberance and embossing – a clutter of ‘household shrine’ accoutrement that is further rivalled by the grossly ornamented framework which encrusts the new surrounds of the new painting in what is left of Sage’s Corner. The palpable ledge is distractedly felt by the hand of a new standing figure, here to make just this point, as his head tilts its nuance, beside another sculptural niche conceit. There nestles in the glyptic patterns of the picture frame, so as to seem indented, a horizontal nude Aphrodite. Within the recess of her sea-shell. To complete this set of haptic surfaces and two-dimensional volumetrics, the table is strewn on every available plane with figure and emblem, in-lay and carving, while the single vase container of both #0 and #1, which once stood to foreground as underling sentinel of perspective, proportion, and orientation, so as to underpin and underpoint the all-unimportant hunch of Sage above, has ultimately mushroomed into a tub of war with ?cameo? Amazons. These Amazons, who look like anything but any of the versions of the artist’s second preoccupying theme for classicism,10 are a prop positioned (we might jeer) to catch the recumbent or whatever else might lapse from the table above. Offset against this squat bloodbath of stubby pygmies, quietly emotes a lovely restrained ewer. ‘Pastel’ painted with a miniature version of the artist’s most affective composition, and classicizing trademark, here exudes

10

Amazonenschlacht was on Feuerbach’s mind and easel from 1857–74: one faces – was, in some degree, meant to face – Gastmahl in Berlin: Kupper 1993, 97–8.

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melancholy from the beautiful maiden (Iphigenia?),11 who aligns her stare into the beyond with the unprepossessing Sage’s reverie above. Paint on painted figure on painted pot in painted room in painted frame saturates the layering of art within/upon art … within/upon art, to the point where the drapery that enwraps the vase has no trouble whatever in convincing the viewer that the entire performance has swathed beauty of form and figure in every conceivable interplay between veil and disclosure, covering and nakedness, skin and skin, that artful sophistication can serve up to overwhelm the eye. As the blue sheeting tumbles forward in a cascade of folds that billow down out over into the picture frame, the flourish rhymes with the more subtle twin enigma to our left where rose chaplets similarly edge down out over into the frame, too. To obtrude on us further that this frame is the same painted expanse of flatness as all the rest of the splash of pigment hung on the gallery wall, the picture flaunts its dangle of grapes and greenery that straggles down over the sill into the room to waft over and pick out the Bacchic rout and mine host. Within the ultimate lines of containment provided by the outermost picture frame, the gold frieze sports symmetrical cattle and sheep skull trophies diagrammed against the rhyming horns of lyre and tragisatyrocomic mask, plus butterfly and mussel-and-snail (coverand-cave) shell motifs punctuating its connective fruit, vegetable, and flower garlands. These both lodge within and overspill onto the grey frame lined on three sides with a ‘tube and washer’ string, while both tucking under and encroaching upon the inner frame of repeating ‘egg and dart’ rows. If the painter could paint into its rightful place at centre ground the titular dedication SUMPOSION in such a style that it contrives to sit on top of the paint that colours the central bucranium that stands proud of both the outer and the inner frames, as well as poking into the painted room to cover both the floor covering and the gold-hemmed skirt that covers the body of the host with newly embroidered floral opulence,12 nevertheless the legend AFEUERBACH.R.73 painted onto the gold frieze at bottom left claims the whole production number for the artist. Outside and inside are one, in this complementary engine of self-acclaiming artifice: the sacrificial animal skulls of the monumental Roman altar invade the scene, both on the bench, bottom right, and on the shoulder of the vase of nostalgia13 (and, by trickery with the lines of their profile, in stucco shaped below both wall niches and beside Victory). Now that those cupids bestrew and enchain with their 11

Feuerbach’s three versions of Iphigenie, from 1862, 1871, 1875, make her sit, half-sit, and then stand (so the girl on the pot could look like the artist’s ancient point of departure): Kupper 1993, 72–9. 12 The gilding of the host’s white ‘toga’ was among the last tweaks to #2 (Keisch 1992, 22). 13 Ibid. 32–3.

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garlands the latecomers’ route from the door, down those steps and into the centrepoint of the show, they both bind together all the floral crowns of the revellers with the host’s severe, now gilded, crown and the wreath held out by Victory to crown her chosen winner (gold outside, gold inside, gold, more gold). They bind together, too, all the be-garlanded binding that runs rings of roses and the rest of the floral tribute all around the frame. The engrossed maiden who gazes from her vase ready-crowned for the beauty of the art that painted her is one more pointer to the invisibly incandescent halo that lights up the anti-prince of sublime inner victory – for Victory’s wreath is targeted on that unkempt time-expired pate below, the ugly old Sage and the ugly old crown of his ugly old skull. The one who awards victory is Victory. The one who painted all this overload of cornucopiac efflorescence into existence made sure to overwrite his signature so that every glorification in the exhibition room of every glorification in the represented room would redound to himself, as the artist who hosts this, painterly, SUMPOSION. 2 Telling this story of art telling a story of art [minus names] has been a strain. Even though the iconography of Plato’s Symposium had not settled into any familiar schema, nor has it since Feuerbach’s day, the Greek inscription together with all the markers of Graeco-Roman culture point loudly in that direction. The underwhelming figure of the lurking Sage is not in itself heavily marked as Socrates, whether by posture or by physiognomy, 14 although, as we have seen, a throng of visual cues point to his narrative focality for the scenario. Tradition has put no face to Alcibiades, let alone to Agathon, so insurgent drunken reveller and host crowned for victory are identifiable only by treating the title as a reference to the tale told by Plato. This was, however, never any strict ‘ekphrasis of the moment’. The painting stops well short of any altertumswissenschaftlich tour de force of antiquarian fidelity, this was never some mimetic feat, Alma-Tadema style.15 For a start, these Greeks sit at table: so this is no sumposivo n.16 Rather, the Alcibiades troupe patently articulates as a Dionysus tableau,17 and Agathon poses exquisitely as Winckelmann’s favourite, the Villa Albani ‘Antinous Relief’.18 14

Cf. 215a; Henderson 1996b, passim. Alma-Tadema: see Beard and Henderson 2001, 8, 216. Ahlers-Hestermann 1946, 17 on #2: ‘denkt man im ersten Augenblick mehr an die Hochrenaissance als an die Antike’. 16 Keisch 1992, 30. See below, n. 23. 17 On Rubens’ version, and that of Pietro Testa (1648), see McGrath 1983. Keisch 1992, 30– 31, ‘Der Hauptzweck aller Veränderungen, die die zweite Bildfassung bringt, liegt darin, diese Affinität in eine Identität zu verwandeln’; cf. 61–2, Katalog 46; etc.: ibid. 10. 18 Left-right reversed: cf. Keisch 1992, 57, Katalog no. 30, with Beard and Henderson 2001, 109. The gorgeous nude male statuette stood on his wall-mounted plinth and shell surround, above ms tambour, provides a reinforcing rhyme for both the Antinous and the Alcibiadic in 15

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The tradition of featuring reflexive, abyssal, inset wall paintings had for centuries conferred the status of visual design upon painterly work, and by the nineteenth century Graeco-Roman Pompeii and Herculaneum had blessed the cultural tradition to which Roman art subscribed, as it sported Greek myth on its walls and in its shrines to culture – museums, galleries, temples … – as the tradition of art culture.19 This is the spirit that the Gastmahl breathes. For this is no ‘Rogues Gallery’ of an identity parade. Besides the conundrum of Plato’s age – just how old was he when Agathon partied with this crowd (in 416), just how old may he have been when he wrote Symposium (say, post-385), how old should the Sage of Antiquity, the Antique Sage, look …? (in his forties in 416) … – there is the problem of Socrates’ lifeline: how can we tolerate a juvenated guru? Nestor or Moses in short trousers … No. Any attempt to match Feuerbach’s faces to Plato’s names will net the big three all right, as in the introductory paragraphs of Symposium (172a7), where Alcibiades is promised always to be on his way, reserved so that he can burst in and take everyone by surprise …20 But the full cast list, and their celebrated pairing off as lovers, as recounted through the course of the ?dialogue?, before Alcibiades’ recap, is not secured to the figures portrayed in paint. One spectacular case concerns the emphatically snake-entwined candlestick that moves along the table as Victory intrudes between #1 and #2, thus disestablishing this apparently Asclepian pointer to the identification of the recumbent as Dr. Eryximachus, and implying that he and Aristophanes, and Aristophanes and he, can swap iconographies just as easily as they swap positions in the round of Plato’s speeches.21 As for the rest of the boys, men, and crumblies …22 Most damningly of all, Feuerbach has made it impossible to see how Agathon can be answering the door without tearing up our Plato text, which precludes his getting up and going anywhere of the sort (Symposium 213 a). How on earth even a dead drunk luscious Agathon (and vice versa): in it, we may recognize a partner for Victory – an ‘AntinoosDionysos’ type which came to Berlin in 1854 as a gift (Berlin, Staatlichen Museum B56: H0.57 m.; Meyer 1991 104–5 on Kat. II.2, Plates 92–3: from the Grimani collection in Venice). True, the contrapposto swaps legs (laterally reversed like the double-take in Agathon), and the drapery over the left shoulder plus the prop held by left arm are nothing like the statuette: but this was a heavily-restored concoction of black marble with lighter marble inserts and extensive bronze supplements (itemized by Meyer, loc. cit.: including the whole area of the left arm). Feuerbach was perfectly capable of imaginatively de-restoring and recreating a (cast?) c5th Greek ‘original’ for the Roman (stone) copy, perhaps in line with expert opinion. Continuity between PlatonicHadrianic and Winckelmanian-Feuerbachian ideal beauty makes a neat set. 19 Cf. Coers 1999. 20 Henderson 2000, 319. 21 Cf. ibid. 309–12. 22 Strenuous efforts to name that cast: Meier in Benardete 1994; cf. Ahlers-Hestermann 1946, 8, Keisch 1992, 8.

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Alcibiades could be lowered into a place where he can discover he has landed in the vacancy plumb next to Socrates23 is not going to get its answer in any of the three shots ##0–1–2. So loyalty to the Platonic moment can be no priority of the composition. We must be much closer to the idiom if we accentuate instead this (‘Deutschrömer’) artist’s mastery of ‘classicism’ – stylish megalography; gilding, masonry, stucco, glyptic, artisanal effects; power codes of gods, myth, icons, in high definition. The frieze of an altar, the frame of a sarcophagus, an imperial monumentality …24 Yet the point of this prowess may well lie exactly in the self-fashioning it betokens: the shift ##0–1–2 will read as the channelling of myth through myth-maker to selfmythologization, with a portrait of the artist’s artistry for final product.25 So many signs profile the work as mimetic analogue of the rise of the German Reich that it is impossible to shrug off the invention of Feuerbach, Artist of Empire: as Victoria forced her way into the scene, and wild Amazonomachy grabbed the low ground, Prussia was smashing France, and gasping for acclamation. A born genius, already creator of that perfect ‘Iphigenia’ figure of longing,26 was at hand, inspired by Greece, inspiring sublimity. Here civilization is reborn, as high culture reflects (on) high culture (Plato as ticket to the elect). Here civilization alibis military domination (as the repression of barbarism). Here the Artist marches in step with his state, his Hauptwerk leaves behind mundane patronage, reaching instead for the hall of fame.27 #0 was Feuerbach in pupation. #1 (finished 1869) was sold to an artist collector, before eventual purchase by the city of Karlsruhe (where Feuerbach all but landed a chair on the back of his output through the 60s).28 One day it would attract the Führer, but in the nick of time Hitler would be eased out of the 23

Henderson 2000, 319. Could any of the Feuerbach Alcibiades possibly pull it off, this choreographic nightmare: stand at the door, meaning to unribbon and bestow his own crown upon Agathon’s head, hear one and all tell him come in and recline, while Agathon calls an invitation to him, before being led over and not clocking Socks because the ribbons he was taking off so he can transfer the crown block his view, so when he sits next to Agathon he doesn’t know that (phew) he only just missed the Sage’s lap, who just moved over to make room: ... parakaqezovmenon de; aujto; n ajspazevsqaiv te to; n ’Agavqwna kai; aj nadei' n (‘so he sat down beside, greeted, crowned Agathon’, 212d–213b: cf. Usher 2002, 224)? NB Feuerbach’s drunkard is, however, correctly shod – Agathon’s welcome in Plato takes the form of the call [to the socially invisible staff] ‘Remove Alcibiades’ shoes so he can recline’ (213b). 24 Cf. Muthmann 1951. 25 Keisch 1992, 27, ‘Ein ideales Selbstporträt … in Agathon’. 26 ‘Weniger goethisch als schillerisch’, to borrow a phrase on Gastmahl #1 by AhlersHestermann 1946, 17. 27 Feuerbach’s main cashpoint, the Munich art collector A.F. von Schack, wanted the Gastmahl figures one third lifesize; #2 broke the relationship (Kupper 1993, 84–5). 28 Purchase in 1890 was a decade after the death of the artist: Ahlers-Hestermann 1946, 16.

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idea of displaying Platonic pederasty in his office.29 #2 chimed with the triumphalism of its times (planned in ebullient Berlin from 1870, between Sedan and the siege of Paris),30 and would earn its maker the chair of the Vienna Academy, but inaugurate a debilitating style war against protodecadent art.31 Its destiny was its destination, a national treasure built into the Berlin museum, bagging a wall of its own, to celebrate the personal waning but rising celebrity of the genius (1878).32 One day it would make prime loot for the Red Army, but return a dozen years later to its (East) German berth (1958).33 3 The transformation from #1 to #2 is central to the reception of Gastmahl in Art History. Should we count the renovation a re-make, a make-over, or a displacement and transcendence – or the creation of an other artwork altogether?34 Revisited in terms of (re-)use of an image of Socrates – and the tale of the inspiration for the composition is of Feuerbach ‘one evening in a Roman inn catching sight of the bald pate of an aged artist’35 – Gastmahl is the telling provocation of a mistake, compounded into a yet graver mistake. Is this vision of Socrates (any) good for imagining Plato, witnessing philosophy, seeing the Symposium? For seeing through the ekphrasis, to (do) the work of philosophical response, engagement, reasoning …? Because the traverse from #1 to #2 demands reception in terms of synkrisis, the paintings work to fissure Plato’s text through their own dialectical polarization. The versions both oppose and bridge between the ‘aspects’ they evince. First we need to cue in the thematics of the dialogue which turn on an optical dimensionality. At every turn, the composition must stress ‘visuality’ as vector of the logos, transmitting critique of the textuality of the text in its otherwise articulation of ‘visual’ meaning. Text-into-art dramatizes the visual theory scripted in the mimetic energy of rhetoric. Picturing restructures and re-constitutes philosophical propositions and their argumentation, testing their generalizability – their applicability beyond the limits of writing codes and book-culture. All takes on the Symposium, specifically, must be mistakes – art pressurizes fault-lines in the persuasion – 29

Kupper 1993, 123–4. Ibid. 91. 31 The diarrhoeic outpourings of Makart: ibid. 96. 32 Keisch 1992, 43–5. 33 Ibid. 46. To celebrate the c20th, the Berlin Gastmahl was restored to its traditional place of honour, in a one-and-a-half hour winching operation that involved a crane lowering it through a window scarcely bigger than the monster daub. To be frank (franker than the Gallery website), this manoeuvre amounts to a measure of demotion for this great icon of the Museuminsel. 34 Ibid. 7–39, Kupper 1993, 88–9. 35 Keisch 1992, 9. 30

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since there can only be mistakes in reading this graphic drama. This because the elaborate, abyssal, montage of this classic text insists at length on its difference within both corpus and itself: we are not to read a ‘witnessed’ or ‘overheard’ dialogue or group discussion starring Socrates, but the iterated, multi-take, narration of a narrative already relayed and replayed at one or more or many removes from its events.36 Checking ‘back’ through ##2–1–0 is therefore an apt simulation of the project and plight of Plato’s reader. But Symposium is more intimately tied to visual take and re-take of Socrates than this. For this central work of Hellenism is, not least, the Urtext for the iconography of Socrates. Here are the words that guarantee the authorized image.37 But this same piece of writing is busy teaching Plato’s lesson in dethroning imagery. The impossibility of ever ‘seeing’ Socrates is the doctrinal pay-off for venturing to imagine Socrates, who can only be misrecognized by mere eyes. Withdrawal of valorization from visual cognition models the denial of sensory knowledge which will characterize mainstream philosophy after Plato. Its utility is to dramatize the impossibility of representing reality. The attendant paradox that only images can be seen, since all that can be seen is image, not thing, depends on deprecation of visual mimesis: since illusion is delusion, an ugly exterior functions as a disrupted sign, and sensed beauty can but denote snare. Yet, the other side of the same con, when painting art-iculates the topic of superior insight, philosophy’s inner eye of meditation, cerebration, and reason is bound to yield in charisma to the phanopoeic melodrama of mystic revelation. Socrates’ tale of Diotima and the epiphanic ‘vision beyond’ must paint itself into a lamplit corner; the sight of Alcibiades’ Dionysiac kômos will seize upon the scene against all-comers, irrupt into eyecatching psychedelic saturation. Just watch. Ekphrasis can try, and then try some more, but no paraded Alcibiades could show us how excited he is by the thought, presence, sight, of … Socrates? And yet the awkward truth is that Symposium is the founding text of Socratic desire, where writing talks eros and erotics erotically and erotologically. Desire radiates and orbits around Socrates, as discussant, participant, guru, advocate, focus, obsession, fetish, and text-case. The tale sponsors and holds a beauty-contest between theories of desire, pure and applied. Painting must intercede, since making desire visible visibly intervenes. Art may pay tribute to the difficulty of philosophy, but itself constitutes a difficulty for philosophy. A t(h)reat, of metaphysics incarnate, in your face epistemology. Now we are set to register the ‘relay’ from ## 0 > 1 > 2. As metaphoric metonymy, pictorial ekphrasis locks into synecdochic relations with its text. Even qua ‘allegorical’ transposition, ‘whole’, paint produced out of writing 36 37

Henderson 2000, esp. 290–7: Socrates-Aristodemus-Phoenix-Apollodorus-Glaucon-Plato. Cf. Henderson 1996B.

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enacts a modal shift, and semiotic re-negotiation. Between the poles of conservation and alteration, there persists the Symposium, vehicle of Socratic techno-therapy, and there intrudes the Symposium as artwork, technoconsecration of Platonic therapeutics. The ‘artist’ takes centre-stage. Look: looking means looking, more and more obtrusively, at him. Gilded, finally, this towering hero of host sensibility. He is Pindaric: two lyres hang above, quotemarks that frame his glory. He is Olympian in schema – an Apolline thrill for Winckelmann. He is imperial in bearing – Greek, German, Prussian … In the end, he is backed by (not the fussy, kindly Doctor, but) the comic genius, his horizontal counterpart, lowdown Aristophanes. The commanding poet in paint ushers in his illusionary ‘Enter Alcibiades’ tableau. Directorproducer and star, Agathon bosses the show. This theatrical post-Socratic interrogation is brought to us courtesy of the artist: drama, music, costume, props. It becomes Agathon’s symposium. He is the intermediary, the narrator who shows off the programme of oppositions: sensuality and intellect, Dionysus and Apollo, Plato and Amazons – ready for confrontation or resolution, knitting and knotting, some to melt, others to melt down.38 His is the Victory, of Berlin.39 He is Anselm Feuerbach. He wanted to be. 4 But Plato’s Gastmahl, as we noted, insists on the composite hybridity of its relay of narration, the combined narration of narration. The voice(s) belong(s) to apostles, disciples, fans, as well as celebs, legends, and Sage. This is, not least, adulation, sex-talk in awe of sex-talk, featuring sexy talk about sex-play, weaving in and out of sublimation and seduction, the loves that lurk in philo-sophia. And Symposium is about the dethroning, as well as the enthroning, of Socrates and his crew – about the terms and conditions of Socratic philosophy. The writing pressurizes and polices tension between the monological exegesis of Apollodorus’ narrative and the sociality of the symposium structures: the eranos protocols of resources pooled between guests and host; the ad hoc rules for ‘tonight’s’ sober party drawn up by Eryximachus in consideration for the gang’s hung-over condition after ‘last night’s’ victory banquet for Agathon;40 their disruption – by Aristophanes, 38

Wardy 2002 esp. 60–1, ‘Appendix. A partial taxonomy of Symposium polarities’. Triangulated as: ‘Collapsing … ; Maintained … ; Problematic’. Feuerbach’s work is no less complex – his Amazonenschlacht proves to be weirdly untitanic, uncannily non-triumphalist, even perversely langorous-fetid. As a pair with Gastmahl, the effect is to problematize many of the designs’ most striking polarities (cf. Keisch 1992, 38, on ‘Chaos und Kultur’, etc.; n. 10 above). 39 Feuerbach’s Victory is the bronze statuette, second-century CE, in the Antikenmuseum, Berlin (Arenhövel 1979, 2.49–50, Katalog no. 47: height 13 cm; cf. Keisch 1992, 37). But the type proliferated across the nineteenth-century capital city, not least in Bismarck’s new Reich (ibid., index, s.v.). 40 Henderson 2000, esp. 302.

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then by Socrates, and ‘now’, thirdly, by Alcibiades (and, ‘soon’, by the arrival of an aftershock second kômos of anonymous revellers, for the diminuendo: 223b); not to mention, passim, by Eros. Sure, Plato recounts for us his polished repeat narration of the story as a script, and a theatrically presented script, at that. His art soups up all the twists and scrapes of the improvised spontaneity of this mimetic narrative: chancy foregathering of the cast; surprise allocation of their roles; epiphanic peripeteia to bring the house down … In the Symposium we are taken ‘backstage’ behind the scenes, where we can watch philosophy trying to operate, away from the hubbub of the city, in a particularly intimate privacy. Here, if anywhere, dialectic through dialogue should find ideal conditions, as exceptionally talented friends bring along their rainbow brands of Attic pizzazz, back at the zenith of rampant democracy sans frontières. Ironically or not, the rules of sympotic conviviality themselves enforce their own adamantine structuring on the proceedings at Agathon’s.41 For the iron laws of politesse frame every drop of sagacity: interrogation is off limits, with every other form of face-threatening, divisive, insistence. This is the communal space for pooling and sharing solidarity, not jousting and criticism. The guests agree to a round of contributions, they distribute the airwaves and the attention in a clockwise ring. Searchers for truth are going to chafe at the game of charades, as each party-goer takes a turn at the mike, to add one more link to the chain of uninterrupted praise. Matey variation on what has preceded takes priority; this privacy turns out to be reserved for some more showbiz – after hours. Plato’s Symposium can no way story the symposium of Agathon-AlcibiadesSocrates. It must be about what that tale is about – what (any) ‘symposium’ is about, in internally differentiating competition with what (any) Platonic script is about. Namely, what purchase (if any) can Socratic philosophy get on society when embedded in sociality? Agreeable enough for philosophy to dine out, play civil for a change, stop picking on public figures for their unexamined pretensions. Necessary, too, for the gadfly to fall into the sticky jar of bonhomie, if Plato is to sting erotics – and get real close to the topic(ality) of ‘Love’. The undercover operation traps the agent of the intellect in all the trappings of loving interpersonal relations, as Socrates is denied free range of tongue and cannot flex his mind. We came to hear the hand-me-down legend of one of Socrates’ finest hours, specially prized – loved – by the daisy-chain of devotees (past and future). Instead he must for once join the queue, and (for all the vexation) listen. When it does come to his moment to speak, he must praise love, too, among lovers, loving and loved, not least himself. He will resort to narration (what else?) – solo, unchecked, unexamined. All the more blatantly so, because of his ruse of recounting a dialogue, his tête-à-tête, on and of desire, with Diotima. Out of 41

See Lissarrague 1990, passim, esp. 116.

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reach. Even when the symposium is disrupted as Alcibiades rocks the joint, philosophy is still put in its place. Unruly vinous tale-telling brings in his train regression to the temporarily repressed carnival of the traditionally carnal Greek symposium; but all the sex dripping from the sex-bomb’s body and mouth does not put humpty Socrates together again. Instead, the soporiferous fade-out will be with inaudible, disremembered, losable ‘afterthoughts’, and the sternest of tasks awaits interpreters who would wrest that crown from Agathon’s and plant it on Socrates’. 5 On this account, the synectic dynamics of Symposium turn on the temporal plot of the sympotic round of speaking in line. That is what stymies Socrates; that is what Alcibiades disrupts; hard indeed to see how a pictured Gastmahl can put that where we can see it. The text works through its line-up of stars at its leisure, dramatizing the views, values, designs for life, ‘philosophies’, personated by the participants. The picture(s) can only iron these ingredients out, and present configuration – interactive group bonding. And yet there is empathetic power in selecting this moment for the painting to ‘take place’. For the emphatic spatiality of visual design does capture in its one sweep of metonymy one likely candidate for cardinal principle of Plato’s text. As sympotic protocol strings the individual guests into the peckingorder according to seating ?plan?, all these virtuosos are put in their places. The differences between them are flattened out by intricate manoeuvres of displacement which sees neighbours and partners (ex)change places. In the course of the night, Phaedrus and Eryximachus swap places to inaugurate the entertainment: take eros partners for the dance. Before that, Aristodemus is shunted up front to arrive before Socrates. Afterwards, Plato’s Eryximachus and Aristophanes are involved in their by-play of therapeutic tomfoolery which sees science and farce interchanged (so – scientifically? comically? – interchangeable, as they are artistically, in Feuerbach’s iconographic replacement of #1 by #2). On the grand scale, the whole scenario of Symposium is strung between ‘Enter Socrates’ and ‘Enter Alcibiades’. Agathon must welcome both these uninvited guests, and good hospitability even persuades him to change places himself, rather than setting places for one and all. Alcibiades’ supervenience drastically changes the place, and changes everyone’s places. Literally, by shifting Socrates and coming between Agathon and the sage; discursively, by changing the rules of exchange, the rules for discourse. The shuffle of placement situates the party around cooperation – a garland, a crown. And this can be shown, then paraded. The philosopher’s meditation is anti-sociable trance: however magnetic, the guru is withdrawn, a presence brandishing the absenting of

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self.42 Who needs friends, lovers, love – to think love? Socrates does. But this is the best and worst place to think anything of the sort. For interrogation is blocked, dialectic outplayed. The primacy of access to [the logic of] camaraderie, devotion, fame, myth, desire is on display: the philosopher is caught within the group dynamics of the group dynamics he would analyze. So it is the orchestration of the Gastmahl which comes to dominate the spectacle. Feuerbach celebrates the artist who brings us to Socratic education through mimesis, through montage, through the triumph of art. The playwright hosts wisdom: access to vision of whatever kind lies in his hands: ##0 > 1 > 2. One outstretched hand gestures a welcome that ultimately stretches back deep into the square glare of interior light (#2). In the other, Socrates’ final victory is securely grasped, at centrefold, for those with eyes to see. Next time, that goblet would be the poisoned chalice of hemlock, Socrates’ martyrdom to the incivility of society. Visual design guarantees the symbolism out of resources of its own. For the massive authority-figure sitting between the columns to back up the producer-director FeuerbachAgathon is drawn into the scene ( from #1 on) to tell lovers of art that Plato is behind this artist. He has come straight from David’s classic masterpiece version of the Death of Socrates (1787). There, the brooding writer faces left, sat at the foot of Socrates’ death bed, away from the ring of apostles, pondering the eucharistic scene he will recreate in writing the Phaedo as it plays out behind his back: there, sat up straight as the lampstand behind his bed, Socrates bosses the scene, scourging human imbecillity with up-thrust forefinger while his right hand reaches to take his goblet, ready to down mere death.43 So artist relays artist, using the mimetic power of depiction to pierce 42

A ring with the narcoleptic reverie that delayed Socrates from joining the party on time (Henderson 2000, 299). 43 Cf. Keisch 1992, 9 for the recognition of Feuerbach’s figure as David’s ‘Plato’ (Katalog no. 50); cf. Henderson 1996B, 330–1. ‘Authorized’ iconography for Plato is more or less nonexistent, but Raphael’s figure of the Old-Testament-Prophet-cum-Venerable-Sage has a strong claim for that role in post-classical art, all receded hairline and hirsute beard au naturel, plus majestic swathe of pink-and-purple-wrappings. In their academic walkabout that bosses The School of Athens (c. 1510), Plato twins dialectically with the junior/younger Aristotle, his ‘New Testament’-style Partner-and-Successor: where Aristotle’s left hand clutches the material book of Ethics to his thigh [his grip scatters the title inscribed on its top edge so that we can read it – read it as in his grasp?], but his spread right hand thrusts forward into and over the empirical earth we inhabit below, whereas Plato totes the Timaeus tucked away under his arm [the title proudly displayed on the spine, so we can see it – see that Plato sees through and past the book, toward Knowledge in the supernal Real], frowns out beyond the mundane world, and with his up-thrust forefinger points our souls up to the otherwheres of Immutable Being – and inspires David to father the gesture on his expiring Socrates (Hall 1997, esp. front cover = 96, Figure 24). Raphael’s Socrates has his back turned away from Plato, as he holds forth to his group starring the rhyming figure of hip Alcibiades at its far left, all shiny armour, sexy looks, locks, and legs –

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through to myth, and re-tell the story of philosophy cornered within the confines of agreeable exchange as pre-figuration of its ultimate consecration. Feuerbach was a tragic poet, too, and he knew how to hide where we cannot miss it (to show) that it takes art to host undying love. Das Gastmahl des Feuerbach.

Refere nces Ahlers-Hestermann, F. (1946), Anselm Feuerbach, Das Gastmahl des Platon, Berlin. Arenhövel, W. (1979), Berlin und die Antike: Architektur, Kunstgewerbe, Malerei, Skulptur, Theater, und Wissenschaft vom 16. Jahrhundert bis heute, vol. 1–2, Berlin: Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. Beard, M. and Henderson, J. (2001), Classical Art. From Greece to Rome, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Benardete, S. (1994), On Plato’s ‘Symposium’, ed. and introd. H. Meier, Munich: Carl Friedrich von Siemens Stiftung. Coers, B. (1999), ‘Zitat, Paraphrase und Locution: zur Funktion der pompejanischer Wandmalerei im Historienbild am Beispiel von J.A.D. Ingres’ “Antiochus und Stratonice” und Anselm Feuerbach’s “Gastmahl des Plato”’, in M. Baumbach (ed.), Tradita et Inuenta. Beiträge zur Rezeption der Antike, Heidelberg: C. Winter. Hall, M. (ed.) (1997), Raphael’s ‘School of Athens’, New York: Cambridge University Press. Henderson, J. (1996a), ‘Footnote: Representation in The Villa of the Mysteries’, in J. Elsner (ed.), Art and Text in Roman Culture, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 233–68, 339–65. Henderson, J. (1996b), ‘Seeing through Socrates: portrait of the philosopher in sculpture culture’, Art History, 19: 327–52. Henderson, J. (2000), ‘The life and soul of the party: Plato, Symposium’, in A. Sharrock and H. Morales (eds), Intratextuality: Greek and Roman textual relations, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 287–324. Keisch, C. (1992), Um Anselm Feuerbachs «Gastmahl», (Katalog, Ausstellung in der Alten Nationalgalerie auf der Museuminsel vom 15. Juli bis zum 13. September 1992), Berlin. Kupper, D. (1993), Anselm Feuerbach, Hamburg. Lissarrague, F. (1990), The Aesthetics of the Greek Banquet: images of wine and ritual, Princeton: Princeton University Press. McGrath, E. (1983), ‘“The drunken Alcibiades”: Rubens’ picture of Plato’s Symposium’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 46: 228–35. Martindale, C. and Thomas, R. (2006), Classics and the Uses of Reception, Oxford: Blackwell. Meier, H. (1994), s.v. Benardete (1994) 6–27.

his right elbow jutting out our way, from the hip (ibid. 26, Figure 18). Everywhere we look, Art looks to tell us where to look – to go look, to come look, to get a look in.

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Meyer, H. (1991), Antinoos. Die archäologischen Denkmäler unter Einbeziehung des numismatischen und epigraphischen Materials sowie der literarischen Nachrichten, Munich: W. Fink. Muthmann, F. (1951), ‘Alkibiades und Agathon. Über die antiken Grundlagen von Anselm Feuerbachs «Gastmahl des Platon»’, Zeitschrift für Kunstsgeschichte 14: 97– 112. Usher, M. D. (2002), ‘Satyr play in Plato’s Symposium’, American Journal of Philology 123: 205–28. Wardy, R. (2002), ‘The unity of opposites in Plato’s Symposium’, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 23: 1–61.

Fig. 5.1 (#0) A. Feuerbach (1860–6). Colour sketch for Das Gastmahl (First version). 1.0 x 5.5 m. Privately owned. Reproduced by permission from Keisch 1992, 79, Katalog no. 82; with thanks to Professor Keisch and Martin Dinter.

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Fig. 5.2 (#1) A. Feuerbach (1869). Das Gastmahl (First version). 2.95 x 5.98 m. Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe. Reproduced by permission from Keisch 1992, 15, with thanks to Karin Merkel.

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Fig. 5.3 (#2) A. Feuerbach (1871–4). Das Gastmahl (Second version). 4.0 x 7.5 m. Nationalgalerie, Berlin A I 279. Reproduced by permission from Keisch 1992, 28–9, Katalog no. 119, with thanks to Norbert Ludwig.

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~ Taylor & Francis

~ Taylor & Francis Group http://tayl ora ndfra ncis.com

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6 From amor Socraticus to Socrates amoris: Socrates and the formation of sexual identity in late Victorian Britain Alastair Blanshard ‘It is from this kind of amours practised by the venerable man, that is derived the erotic phrase: to love Socratically. Every action and every word of Socrates were held as sacred … all his actions had legal force, and his words the authority of an oracle.’ – Forberg 1884, 159 (from chapter 2, on anal penetration)

Desp era tely see ki ng S ocr at es As my title suggests, this is a story about the transition from a particular desire to a peculiar identity – from something less than to something more than a personality. Or rather personalities. The plural must be stressed. Whatever Socrates/Socratic love stood for, it wasn’t one solitary thing. The semantic range is wide and deep. This is also a story about sex. Sex as a coda. A frantic mingling of bodies comes at the end. In their thrashing, they repeat, condense, reject, and develop some of the themes that I wish to explore. However, it would be a mistake to regard the bedroom as the ultimate destination of the trajectories that I want to chart. Socratic love is more than just a collection of biomechanical acts. Indeed, focusing on sexual acts can distract us from observing the way in which Socratic love functioned as a charter for living that permeated the most extraordinary range of acts and figures of speech. I start from the principle that sexuality needs biography.1 It is impossible to have a lifestyle without a life. Recent studies have illuminated the way in which the nineteenth century constituted a crucial time in the formation of 1

As Foucault has observed, the creation of a sexuality occurs when the discourse moves from a discussion of acts to a discussion of personages (1980, 64–66). This point was dramatised in the biographies of Foucault himself. On this point, see the illuminating discussion by David Halperin in his essay ‘The describable life of Michel Foucault’ (Halperin 1995, 126–86).

From Socrates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, ed. M.B. Trapp. Copyright © 2007 by M.B. Trapp. Published by Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Gower House, Croft Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 3HR, UK. 97

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sexual identity. It was a period in which a variety of discourses would combine to stitch together a new idea of the self and its relation to sexual acts. Much work has been devoted to the way in which the scientific discourses of medicine, psychiatry, and criminology ‘carefully assembled [the] whole pitiful, lyrical outpouring from the sexual mosaic’ (Foucault 1980, 64) into a notion of sexual identity. However, it would be a mistake to ignore the place of biography in this account. The scientific has always been sympathetic to the biographical (is the psycho-analytical case-study anything more than a biography writ pathological?). To ‘flesh’ out a disposition, the story of a life is helpful. Any story will do – but, as we shall see, one story does more than most. In the telling and re-telling of the life of Socrates, we find one of the significant queer narratives of Victorian Britain. To the person of Socrates and the desire to which he gave his name (amor Socraticus – Socratic love) it was possible to ascribe a number of distinctive elements that came to characterize homoerotic sensibilities. He authenticated its voyeuristic character, supported its transgressive resistance to authority, its pedagogic nature, its preference for male homosociality over comfy domesticity, and its sensual excesses. Socrates became a medium by which abstract claims and aesthetic notions could be realized, and made substantial. These different aspects do not form a synthetic whole. Furthermore, in many cases, their relationship with homosexuality is slightly oblique. There is nothing intrinsically homosexual about voyeurism, political engagement, pedagogy, or even a preference for male company. It was not necessary, in fact impossible, to subscribe to every definition of ‘Socratic love’ in circulation. Instead, Socrates provides a palette of positions. Some of these positions will coalesce to form what we can (comfortably?) label ‘homosexuality’. Other will prove a dead end – fossilized ways of living without progeny. The range of names for same-sex lovers (‘Uranians’, ‘sexual inverts’, ‘the third sex’) is testament to the novelty and instability of sexual identity in this period. The permutations while not endless, do allow a wide degree of flexibility. The life of Socrates became a pattern to follow, a model to measure oneself against, and the matrix in which experience was absorbed, filtered and reconstructed. Be yo nd Plat o: the q uest f or m ore tha n a ut ho rity The love that dare not speak its name … was the great affection of an elder for a younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michael Angelo and Shakespeare. There was NOTHING UNNATURAL about it – Oscar Wilde as reported in the Star, 30 April 1895

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The morale is sound and healthy; and at times we descry, through the voluptuous and libertine picture, vistas of transcendental morality, the morality of Socrates in Plato. – Burton 1885, 1.xvii

Whenever we search for Socrates, we run into Plato. Socrates has trouble standing on his own.2 He is almost always qualified (‘the Socrates of/in/for/by Plato’). It is an almost fatal symbiosis. Plato always threatens to erase Socratic identity. What starts out as Socratic soon becomes the Socrates of Plato, and then ends up as simply Platonic. The testimony of Burton and Wilde above capture different moments in this transition. Both of their accounts share a common theme – the morality of same-sex love. But whose morality is it? Wilde has no doubts. This love is Platonic (‘the very basis of his philosophy’). However, Burton reminds us about the absentee from Wilde’s account. Wilde may cite Plato, but he sounds like Socrates. Burton’s circumlocution ‘Socrates in Plato’ occupies the mid-point in the transition from Socratic to Platonic thought. Observing such textual dynamics attunes our critical senses. It is worth observing moments when the names of Plato and Socrates are interchangeable, and when they are not. The usage is most indiscriminate when the issue is one of authority. The simplest story to tell about Socrates and Plato is one about tradition and the creation of a history. In a sense all citations have an element of this. The deployment of the Hellenic past is never indifferent to issues of prestige. Although homosexual writings may often make reference to practices in Mexico, China, Arabia and Constantinople, none has quite the weight of the classical Greek. Three criticisms were commonly advanced against nineteenth-century homosexuals – they were deficient in body, mentally feeble, and aesthetically compromised. To counter each of these accusations, historical figures were produced to demonstrate their inapplicability. Alexander the Great and the Theban Band (for virile strength), Michel Angelo (to demonstrate that the art is not degenerate) and Plato/Socrates (to prove mental prowess) became the standard exempla. Every sexual invert in London could have trotted out a spiel illustrated with exactly these names, and half a dozen more.3 Queer genealogies were all the rage, and had been

2

For the dominance of the Platonic vision and attempts to construct Socrates outside it, see Trapp in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment (Introduction and ch. 4). 3 See, for example, Carpenter 1894, published a few months before the Wilde trial: ‘Certainly it is remarkable that some of the world’s greatest leaders and artists have been dowered either wholly or in part with the Uranian temperament – as in the cases of Michel Angelo, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, or, among women, Christine of Sweden, Sappho the poetess, and others.’ For an even more extensive list, see Burton 1885, 10.252 n. 1.

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for over a century.4 Mallock parodied this sort of discourse in his biting satire, The New Republic (1877).5 Such apologias almost became standard undergraduate exercises.6 In such circumstances, it is unimportant whether Socrates or Plato is cited. There is nothing personal in the allusion. Plato and Socrates are used either interchangeably or bound together as a single unit. Together they act as ciphers for the authority, prestige, and intellectual capability of ancient Greece. In such circumstances, it is understandable that references should, on the whole, prefer to cite Plato when discussing actions performed by Socrates. The practice is bibliographical – one cites authors, not characters. This blunt use for practical politics has perhaps its most famous formulation in Wilde’s testimony excerpted above.7 However, Plato can only take us so far towards an identity. The Phaedrus and the Symposium are helpful. However, identity is not constituted through ideas, but through practices. While people read Plato, they dreamed of being Socrates. Plato forms the conduit for an identity that is elsewhere. Socrates will always have the edge. His biographicality seals his fate as pin-up boy for Uranian love. The sexualized Socrates is the product of an age besotted with biography as a way of understanding the world. The Victorian desire for biography filled a need that previously had been filled by monumental histories.8 Biographies regularly feature as the most popular and significant works of nineteenth-century literature. It is no coincidence that this century sees the first English treatise on the writing of biography – James Field Stanfield’s An Essay on the Study and Composition of Biography. It should not surprise that one of the prime roles that he identifies for biography is education. With this idea firmly installed, it was only natural that the sexual invert turned to biographical anecdotes for ideas about how to live his life, and deal with his passions. The emergent disciplines of science and psychopathology may have told him what he was. However, it was biography that provided the pattern for how to live your life. The monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1817) shows the way. Plutarch’s Lives are where he begins his education about humanity. The appeal of Socrates here is obvious. There is no figure strongly associated with same-sex love about whom so much biographic detail was 4

On the importance of these genealogies for the formation of gay identity, see Fone 1981, 163; and Woods 1998, 1–11. 5 See, for example, Mr Rose’s list of historical lovers: Harmodius and Aristogeiton, Achilles and Patroclus, Socrates and Phaedrus – The New Republic, 121. 6 For the writing of such ‘apologiai hyper paiderastias’ by undergraduates, see the case recounted in a letter to Symonds from Norman Moor in Grosskurth 1984, 296. 7 For a reading of the politics of this speech, and its subsequent textual politics, see Cohen 1993, 201. 8 On the development and influences on Victorian biography, see Shaffer 2002.

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known. Moreover, these details could be easily translated into everyday life. The concrete will always strike harder than the abstract. Plato may have told readers why people loved. Socrates demonstrated how to love. Furthermore, there is another obstacle that problematizes the adoption of Plato as a figure for unquestioning emulation; namely the occurrence of a number of passages in the Laws that seem highly critical of same-sex love. For obvious reasons such passages were passed over in silence by nineteenth-century sexual radicals. Only rarely do we see find discussion of them. Although, when we do, we can see they way in which they preyed on the minds of same-sex apologists. John Addington Symonds’ A Problem in Greek Ethics provides perhaps the longest and most detailed discussion of the problem.9 As one of the influential apologias for Victorian thinking on the relationship between Greece and the homoerotic, the text provides an important intervention in the discussion on the Laws and their implications. Symonds writes: The Laws, which are probably a genuine work of Plato’s old age, condemn the passion which, in the Phaedrus and the Symposium, he exalted as the greatest boon of human life and as the groundwork of the philosophic temperament; the ordinary social manifestations of which he described with sympathy in the Lysis and the Charmides; and which he viewed with more toleration in the Republic. It is not my business to offer a solution of this contradiction; but I may observe that Socrates, who plays the part of protagonist in nearly all the other dialogues of Plato, and who, as we shall see, professed a special cult of love, is conspicuous by his absence in the Laws. It is therefore, not improbable that the philosophic idealisation of paiderastic love, to which the name Platonic love is usually given, should rather be described as Socratic.10

This argument is repeated later in the same chapter: … In the Phaedrus, the Symposium, the Charmides and the Lysis, and the Republic, Plato dramatised the real Socrates … In the Laws, if we accept the treatise as the work of old age, he discarded the Socratic mask …

There are a number of features worth observing about Symonds’ response to this text. His response is entirely biographical. He advises the reader not to be too worried about this text because it was written by an old man. Here the construction of the aged (senility, conservatism, resentment at youthful pleasures etc.) conspires to render Plato inconsequential. At the same time it foregrounds another figure, Socrates. Here the absence of Socrates as a 9

The size of the readership of this pamphlet remains debateable. Its initial printing was tiny (10 copies). The recipients of this print run are unknown. Although its title indicates the work is addressed to jurists and legal practitioners, it is unknown how many (if any) read it. Later printings in 1901 and 1908 were much larger. For discussion of this work and its political agenda, see Blanshard 2000; Grosskurth 1964; and Dowling 1994, 67–103. 10 Symonds 1908, chap. 15.

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character in the work is flagged as crucial. Socrates is really the creative genius behind those texts so beloved of nineteenth-century homosexuals, the Phaedrus and the Symposium.11 Without Socrates’ guidance, the readers should not be surprised that Plato wanders off into an anti-homosexual rant. Symonds’ desire to retain a coherently positive place for homosexuality in the Greek world has forced him into assuming a position in one of the key philosophic debates in the history of ancient philosophy. Homosexual desire becomes the matrix for understanding the relationship between Socrates and Plato. It provides an answer to that inevitable, but insoluble question – what is Platonic and what is Socratic in Plato’s dialogues? Symonds’ equation seems simple; their positive endorsement of homosexual union reveals them as Socratic. Anything that deviates from this is probably the influence of Plato. The homoerotic splits the Plato-Socrates nexus into its constituent parts. Symonds’ arguments also show another important reason for preferring Socrates to Plato. There are occasionally advantages to be gained from departing from the Platonic script. Socrates’ dual existence as Platonic fiction and historical reality provides the opportunity to take him on a different trajectory. We can use him for ‘thought experiments’ of our own. It is these thought experiments that constitute the rest of this paper. The wi ndo ws o f t he s o ul: S ocra tes a nd t he q uest for vo ye uristi c pl eas ure He came as he was bidden, and sat down … I was beginning to feel awkward; my former bold belief in my powers of conversing with him had vanished … he looked at me in such an indescribable manner … And at that moment all the people in the palaestra crowded about us, and, O rare! I caught sight of the inwards of his garment, and took the flame. Then I could no longer contain myself. I thought how well Cydias understood the nature of love, when, in speaking of a fair youth, he warns some one ‘not to bring the fawn in the sight of the lion to be devoured by him’. – Plato, Charmides 155a-d (trans. B. Jowett, 1871)

Voyeurism is not accidental. It requires training. This is viewing at its most active. This is viewing so hard that the object of desire can feel it.12 In a genealogy of cruising, a place needs to be found for Socrates. He doesn’t create this art, but he does give it a pedigree. The Charmides episode becomes a useful precedent for articulating experience. The practice of idling by the plane trees at the gymnasium was easily translated into

11

On the importance of these texts, see Dowling 1994, 67–77; and Woods 1998, 19–24. On the culture of cruising and its role in the performance of homosexual identity, see Case, Brett, and Foster 1995; and Gove 2000. 12

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loitering at public parks or on the banks of the Isis.13 The vignette of Critias and Socrates plotting to lure the beautiful Charmides into conversation, only for Socrates to be struck speechless through a glimpse of the youth’s naked flesh would prove popular in the homoerotic imagination.14 Uranian pleasure is one largely derived from looking. As we shall see, physical contact is where it becomes difficult. Sex may (or may not) come later. Love always begins with a glance. Socratic viewing has a long tradition. It begins with the contemplation of the beautiful in Plato, and is continued and expanded by the Renaissance Neo-Platonism of figures such as Marsilio Ficino.15 It is possible to trace the influence of Ficino throughout the history of western humanism. However, there is a way in which he has an immediate presence for nineteenth-century writers on same-sex desire. It must be remembered that the Hellenism of Victorian culture is largely the Hellenism of Renaissance humanism. Indeed, the popularisation of the Renaissance in the Victorian period was the work of many of these Victorian hellenophiles – most notably Symonds and Pater.16 It was directly through Ficino that the works of Plato and Socrates were mediated.17 His influence can be traced in a large number of the homoerotic writers that engaged with Greece. In addition to Symonds and Pater, both Wilde and Carpenter were familiar with his work. Ficino’s 1492 translation of the Symposium occupies a central place in Wilde’s Portrait of W.H. (1889). According to this short story, it is this text that awakened the soul of Shakespeare to the pleasures of same-sex desire. In turn, when the central character articulates the extraordinary epiphany he has undergone, he remarks ‘I felt as if I had been initiated into the secret of that passionate friendship, that love and beauty of love, of which Marsilio Ficino tells us’.

13

See, for example, Wilde’s inability ‘to consider the river Isis without seeing Socrates and Phaedrus beside the Ilissus’ – Dowling 1994, 117. 14 For example, Wilde, Portrait of W.H. (1889) ‘So it had been with others whose beauty had given a new creative impulse to the age. The ivory body of the Bithynian slave rots in the green ooze of the Nile, and on the yellow hills of the Cerameicus is strewn the dust of the young Athenian; but Antinous lives in sculpture, and Charmides in philosophy.’ It is hard not to read an allusion to the Platonic Charmides in Wilde’s poem of the same name. Gascoigne Mackie gives the youth he loved the name ‘Charmides’ in his verse of reminiscence Charmides: or ‘Oxford Twenty Years Ago’ (1898). Devotion to the image of Charmides would feature as an object of attack in Tyrwhitt’s attack on the morals of the Anglo-Hellenic movement in his essay ‘The Greek spirit in modern literature’ (Contemporary Review, March 1877): ‘the emotions of Socrates at the sight of the beauty of young Charmides … are not natural: and it is well known that the Greek love of nature and beauty went frequently against nature’. 15 See Hankins in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. 16 See Bullen 1994, 251–55, 273–98; and Dale 1988. 17 It was Ficino’s edition of the Platonic texts that became the basis for standard texts for use in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

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The enjoyment of visual pleasure occupies a pre-eminent place in Ficino’s writing. In the chapter entitled ‘What lovers seek’ (Quid quaerent amantes) in his commentary on the Symposium, pleasure is a visual/mental exchange: A man enjoys the physical beauty of a youth with his eyes; the youth enjoys the man’s beauty with his mind. The youth, who is beautiful in body only, by this practice becomes beautiful also in soul; the man who is beautiful in soul only, feasts his eyes upon bodily beauty. (trans. S.R. Jayne)

The eyes are literally where everything happens. Through them light, blood and vapour flows. Through them the soul of the lover physically passes and enters the body of the lover. Beware those with ‘large, blue, shining eyes’ he advises in the chapter entitled ‘By whom especially we are caught’ (A quibus praecipue irretiamur). These fatal glances are one of the hallmarks of nineteenth-century homoerotic experience. It became a standard opening gambit of Uranian poetry for authors to declare the passion that suddenly assailed them as they first caught a glimpse of their beloved’s body. In a defence of pederasty and instruction manual on paedophilic grooming, Boy-Worship (1880), the author advises that boy-love is first awakened by the often accidental sight of male beauty, and proceeds to advise that man-boy friendships should be instigated by meaningful glances.18 Looking becomes a practice, an act of devotion, and a method of self-improvement. Symonds’ compositional technique for Key of Blue takes this to its logical extreme. Seeking inspiration, he dresses up his beautiful male model in various shades of blue and poses him against other colours. Taking in the scene, he composed his poetic studies.19 Such activities caused a certain amount of derision. However, they are nothing but the application of a particularly Socratic idea onto poetic practice. Observation and beauty coinciding for mutual pleasure – this was what attention to the Socratic regime instigated. A pre p ara tio n f or de at h: S ocr ates a nd tra ns g ressive resista nc e It was, as I believe, his sense of the Greek that carried him through [the trial], as it had brought him to its cause. He felt himself Socrates, perhaps; but it is easier to drink hemlock than to return from prison. – Anonymous 1936 (on the Wilde trial).

Antinous, St. Sebastian and Socrates – a martyr’s death seems to be a requisite part of the lives of those whom the Uranians held most dear. Martyrdom has a tendency to provoke adoration and imitation in equal 18 19

Anonymous 1880, 10–12. Saville 1999, 263–64.

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measure. Certainly, in the artistic circles in which ‘Anonymous’ (the theatre writer, Agnes Platt) moved, the Wilde trial provoked sympathy and outrage.20 In expressing their dismay at the persecution of this ‘divine genius’, sympathizers were oft to parallel it with the persecution of Socrates. The accusation brought against Wilde that he ‘corrupted the young’ had to their ears an unmistakable echo of the Socrates trial.21 This tendency to liken the experience of sexual inverts to the trials and tribulations undergone by Socrates is a feature of Victorian non-homophobic discourse. It was easy to repackage the accusations against Socrates as atheism and immorality – charges that were familiar to sexual inverts and their supporters.22 Socrates’ perceived nobility in the face of persecution was understandable to those who professed a love that they saw as equally noble. Moreover, Socrates’ challenge to the conventions by which the Athenians lived their lives chimed with the dissidence embraced by many sexual radicals. Socrates with his strong associations with radical liberal politics and political reform was an ideal candidate for canonization. There was a strong association between Victorian liberalism and a passion for Hellenism.23 The introduction of Plato had been a key plank in its university reforms. Previously people had been quite keen to see Socrates as a precursor to Christ.24 The liberals were suspected of promoting Socrates as a rival to supplant him. The idea of uncompromising and constant questioning of authority, even at the expense of legal sanction, appealed to a group of individuals who not only after the Labouchere amendment were open to prosecution because of their antisocial activity (‘gross indecency’), but were also prominent players in wider political movements. Indeed, one of the common features of homosexual radicals in the late nineteenth century is their involvement in a variety of political causes from vegetarianism to women’s education.25 There is every reason to regard their identity as socialists, universal suffragists, and 20

Anonymous 1936, 74–6. This was particularly the case in the April 1895 trial where passages from Wilde’s ‘Phrases and philosophies for the use of the young’ (published in the Chameleon) were presented as evidence of Wilde’s detrimental influence. 22 For this description of the accusations made against Socrates, see Mill 1993, chapter II. 23 On the strong associations between Hellenism and Victorian liberalism, see Dowling 1994, 56-66; and Turner 1981, 264–308. 24 Cf. inter alia Pattison in this volume, and Charalabopoulos and Hankins in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. 25 Edward Carpenter is a good example of this trend. A committed socialist, his homosexual apologias are peppered with references to the plight of working men, the rise of the vegetarianism, and the cause of women's education and suffrage. J.A. Symonds was actively involved in the women’s education movement. He gave a number of lectures to women in Bristol and was closely associated with Henry Sidgwick, founder of Newnham College – see Grosskurth 1984, 165, 168–9, 202–3, 209. 21

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anti-vivisectionists as equally, if not more, important than their homosexual identity. Although few were presumptuous enough to self-identify their persecution with Socrates, this did not stop friends, associates and admirers doing so. So Robert Buchanan in ‘Socrates in Camden’ compares Boston’s treatment of Whitman with the persecution of Socrates.26 As we have seen above, Wilde as ‘the new Socrates’ was a feature of conversations in the London theatrical and artistic scenes. Socrates’ suicide is congenial to the air of morbid romanticism that permeates so much homoerotic writing of the period.27 Passionate relationships between men so rarely had a future. It was all about seizing a moment. Death, especially suicide, as a method of achieving literary closure became a commonplace in homoerotic writing. Socrates connotes the two motifs, so effectively combined in modern western notions of sexuality – love and death (Bataille 1987; Gediman, 1995; Foucault 1980, 156). Xa nt hi p pe a nd t he reje cti o n o f t he d omes tic And will people understand your meaning? Anybody who has any sense will. Besides to render my idea clearer, I’ll paint a pendant to it: “Socrates – the Greek Christ with Alcibiades, his favourite disciple.” The woman will be Xantippe. – Anonymous 1983 [Teleny]

In the pornographic novel, Teleny, the artist Briancourt, prior to inviting René Teleny and Camille des Grieux to a homosexual orgy (‘my symposium’), outlines his plans to immortalize his passion for his new lover in the form of a portrait. It will depict his lover as Christ locked in a passionate embrace with his beloved disciple, John. John will bear the features of Teleny. The homoerotic subtext of the painting will be realized by a companion piece depicting Socrates in a similar pose with Alcibiades. Both pieces will feature female companions who receive ‘dreamy, half-scornful, half-pitiful’ expressions from these lovers. In this first painting, the woman is ‘one of the adulterous Marys’. In the second, it is Xanthippe. This motif of the woman excluded from homosocial relationships is emblematic of the state-of-affairs that operated in many homoerotic relationships. It is impossible to divorce the strong sense of misogyny that permeated homoerotic sensibilities in the late nineteenth century. Although some homosexual activists were also involved in movements for women’s education and female suffrage, a sizeable number regarded women as

26

First published in Academy August 15, 1885 (reprinted as Buchanan 1887, 341–46). On the nexus between sex and death in the Victorian period, see Stewart 1984, 102–38; and Barreca 1990. 27

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intellectually deficient and aesthetically flawed.28 Even Symonds, who, through his involvement with the Sidgwicks, participated in a number of projects involving the education of women, cannot resist the tropes of misogynist aestheticism in his writings. Such an environment would nourish a tendency to sympathize with the sensitive and gifted Socrates as he endured the shrewish, jealous behaviour of his wife.29 Wives were an impediment to the preferable company of men. In this, the Victorians replicated with their all male institutions, the exclusion of women from the public sphere practised in ancient Athens. Certainly, feminist critics sensed the mood. And they knew whom to blame – Socrates. In Cambridge, women who were keen to improve their social and educational standing were increasingly appropriating the language of Hellenism.30 Among their number was the poet and author, Amy Levy. In May 1880, she published in the University Magazine, ‘Xantippe’, a poetic defence of the maligned wife of Socrates.31 The poem is a damming indictment of the homosocial relationships that excluded women who longed for higher learning (‘My soul which yearned for knowledge, for a tongue’ l. 38) and left them fit only ‘to bleed and quiver’ (l. 83). The critical scene in the poem involves Socrates, surrounded by his friends, criticising the learning of Aspasia. When Xantippe dares to suggest that women are capable of education, she receives nothing but cold, crushing disdain from her husband. While off to the side, Alcibiades quietly mocks (‘Then I saw. Young Alkibiades, with laughing lips/and half-shut eyes, contemptuous shrugging up/Soft, snowy shoulders, till he brought the gold/Of flowing ringlets round his breasts’. ll. 98–102). Remarkably, this image exactly mimics the allegorical vignette designed by Briancourt in Teleny. The similarity between these two images demonstrates the way in which the iconography of Socrates could provide a shared language for the understanding of domestic arrangements. In both cases, Socrates and Alcibiades stand as vivid metaphors for contemporary relationships. In the case of Briancourt, they are offered as an ideal to which he aspires. To Levy, it is a relationship against which she can only rage.

28

See, for example, the chapter ‘The lover’s opinion of women’ in Warren 1928, vol. 1, ch. 6. On Xanthippe, see Diogenes Laertius 2.36; Seneca, De Constantia Sapientis 18.5; and Aelian, Variae Historiae 11.12. There was also particular excitement about the tradition of Socrates’ supposed bigamy. For such discussion and additional bibliography, see Brandis 1844– 49, 850 and Zeller 1885, 62–64, esp. 62 n.3 (and cf. Brown in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment). 30 For discussion of the way in which Hellenism operated differently in Cambridge, and its appropriation by female undergraduates, see Prins 1999. 31 The poem was reprinted in Levy 1884. 29

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Pae d og ogy a nd p ae do p hili a: a q ue er ‘se nse a nd se nsibili ty’ ‘Did you sy they was niked?’ ‘Of course’, Oscar replied, ‘nude, clothed only in sunshine and beauty’. – Reported conversation between Wilde and two cockney youths (Harris 1916)

It appears easy to see through this vignette to the erotic undercurrents swirling around the interlocutors. There is very little that seems innocent in this explanation of Greek culture to its astonished audience. However, perhaps the most radical claim of those who professed Uranian love was that their passion was not about sex, but pedagogy.32 Taking its name from the account of the ‘higher’ Love generated by Aphrodite Urania in the Symposium (180d-181), the aims of Uranian love were aims ascribed to Socrates – to educate and improve the soul.33 Although there were many who thought this a front for baser instincts (occasionally with good reason), we should perhaps take some at their word. A number were content with chaste comradeship. In a world where modern sexual identities were still in formation, there is every reason to believe that there was space for a fundamentally chaste, elevating eroticism. Its articulation can be found in the numerous poems and letters exchanged between older and younger men at university and the upper forms of public school.34 Much work has been done on the homosocial Hellenism of the Oxford tutorial: each participant assuming a role to create a pseudo-Socratic tableau. Imitating Socrates as a method of educating young men had been a respectable activity for most of the nineteenth century. Benjamin Jowett, the figure who dominates the Oxford educational landscape from the 1840s, was routinely compared favourably to Socrates (Dowling 1994, 76). When quizzed about the erotic consequences of adopting such a template, the chastity advocated in the Symposium and the Phaedrus provided ready answers. The ambiguity of love meant that many attachments became absorbed by the discourse of comradeship and friendship. So, for example, the association between aristocratic social reformers and inner city ‘rough lads’ was sustained by a notion of comradeship and paternal friendship, devoid of sexual content (Koven 1992). Only in the wake of the Wilde trial, as the construction of Wildean desire began to eclipse all others, did it become difficult to articulate a desire for youths that was asexual.35 It is the ambiguity of this love – this desire to express a love for a man that is 32

Dowling 1994, 115. ‘It could endow youth with a soul beyond the stars’ (Warren 1928, vol. 2, ch. 25). 34 On this literature, see D’Arch Smith 1970. 35 On the centrality of Wilde in the construction of the modern homosexual and his tendency to erase other formulations of male same-sex sexuality, see Cohen 1993; Dollimore 1991; and Sinfield 1994. 33

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passionate, but not erotic – that gives the writing of authors, such as Walter Pater, its sense ‘of a constantly beckoning and receding suggestiveness’ (Dowling 1994, 94). Of course, it was only too easy for such passion to fall into sensuality. Not even Pater was immune.36 However, we do a disservice to the fragility of nineteenth-century sexual identity, if we concentrate on the failures, and do not appreciate the intense efforts that went into establishing an erotic regime than sought to distance itself from the other associations of Socratic love – namely, pederastic physical coupling. Socr ates a nd p hysic al lo ve Malheureusement pour lui, il paie cher ses fantasies socratiques. – Le Journal, 26 October 1900.

Thus, one of the Parisian newspapers noted in its account of the unfortunate set of events that befell Lord Alfred Douglas when he attempted to pick up a rent boy, only to find himself mugged by a couple of procurers.37 Whatever may have been Lord Douglas’ fantasy, the education of the young man wasn’t one of them. Douglas introduces us to the steamy side of Socratic love. The term embraced more than chaste embraces and longing glances. With Socrates by your side, sex was always on the cards. The association between Socrates and physical sexual acts was one of the ‘open secrets’ of the Victorian world. Whenever Socrates seems to be mentioned, the accusation of paedophilia is not far behind. So, for example, Christian Brandis in his entry on Socrates in Smith’s A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1844–49) includes a reasonable discussion on the tradition of Socrates’ paedophilia.38 We should not be surprised that this standard reference work and staple of middle-class bookshelves proceeds to deny the veracity of this tradition (‘The accusation … we do not hesitate … to reject as calumny’).39 However, such denials failed to suppress the rumours. If anything, they served to speed the circulation, especially as Brandis helpfully provides citations to all the ancient sources describing Socrates the boy-lover. This tradition about Socrates the pederast is one that would fire the imagination of many sexual inverts. The tradition is constructed from allusions in a number of classical works. There are a number of references to Socrates battling with his passions. So, the physiognomist Zopyrus declares 36

On Pater’s affair with William Hardinge, and the subsequent intervention of Benjamin Jowett, see Inmann 1991. 37 The affair is discussed in D’Arch Smith 1970, 48–50. 38 Brandis 1844–49, 850. This work was reprinted in 1853, 1861, 1870, and 1880; a revised edition was published in 1894. 39 For a similarly frank discussion of Greek pederasty in a work designed for general readership, see Mahaffy 1874, ch. 10. Subsequent editions deleted this chapter.

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that upon examination, Socrates is full of vice (Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 4.37). He is not unfamiliar with seedy locations as his association with Phaedo and the brothel indicates.40 In Lucian’s De Domo (‘The Hall’), Lucian discusses the way in which beautiful surroundings assist the passion for speech. To illustrate this, he paints a picture of Socrates teaching underneath a plane tree near the banks of the Ilissus. Here in that secluded spot, ‘he was not ashamed to invite young women [sc. the Muses] to join with him in celebrating boy-love (ta paiderastika)’ (4). In Lucian’s Verae Historiae (‘A True Story’), he has Socrates teaching philosophy in the Isles of the Blest. Socrates is surrounded by beautiful youths from mythology. Hyacinthus, the boy loved by Apollo, is his especial favourite (2.17). Juvenal jokes about the preference of Socratic types for anal penetration (2.10). Whilst, in a flat contradiction of the account in the Symposium, the PseudoLucianic Erotes tells us that when Alcibiades lay under the same cloak of Socrates, he did not emerge unpenetrated (aplêx) (54). These anecdotes, which enjoyed a status not much less than those of Xenophon and Plato, ensured that Socrates became, from the Renaissance onwards, a figure associated with pederasty and sodomy. The suspicions aroused by Plato’s discussion of love could not so easily be dismissed in the case of Socrates. Defenders of Plato could always point to his supposedly unambiguous denunciation of pederasty in the Laws.41 Finding such a denunciation was more difficult for Socrates. The anecdote about Zopyrus was used to confirm that Socrates was riddled with a ‘filthy love of boys’.42 The term amor socraticus became a euphemism for same-sex attraction, especially of a physical kind.43 Quite a different fate befalls the term platonica venus (‘Platonic love’). Initially the terms were interchangeable. However, from the fifteenth century onwards, the trend (with a few notable exceptions) is for the former to become increasingly sexualized while the later became synonymous with chastity both heterosexual and homosexual.44 By the eighteenth century, Socrates’ lusts are firmly ingrained into his character. Indeed, there is mileage to be made by reminding readers that 40

On Socrates in the brothel, see Diog. Laet. 2.105 (cited by Symonds in A Problem in Greek Ethics ch. 15). On homosexual brothel culture, esp. the Cleveland St scandal, see Harvey 1978; Hyde 1976; Simpson, Chester, and Leitch 1976; Weeks 1985. 41 See, for example, the rebuke by Cardinal Bessarion in In calumniatorem Platonis libri IV (1457–58, cited in Dall’Orto 1989, 40) of the criticism made by George of Trebizond (1396– 1486) that Plato was subversive of Christian morals. 42 ‘la sua naturale inclinatione al sporco amor di gargioni’. See Giordano Bruno, Spaccio della bestia triunfante (1584) in Bruno and Campanella 1956, 538 (quoted in Dall’Orto 1989, 49). 43 The term seems to have been coined by Marsilio Ficino who uses it to indicate a same-sex attraction that is profoundly chaste. For discussion of the role of Ficino, see Dall’Orto 1989. 44 This sexualisation of the term ‘Socratic love’ is traced in Dall’Orto 1989. On the development of homosexual discourse in this period, see Woods 1998, 68–83.

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they were not necessarily acted upon.45 Voltaire can take a radical stance by arguing in his chapter ‘Amour nommé socratique’ from his Dictionnaire philosophique (1764) that other critics were mistaken about the Greeks. They were not as favourably disposed to sodomy as is popularly imagined. It was a weakness they were prone to, rather than something they officially endorsed.46 Johann Gesner goes even further. In his pamphlet, Socrates sanctus paiderasta (1769), he attempts to prove in the face of general preconceptions that Socrates was chaste. Nevertheless, in both these cases, the authors were swimming against the tide. This lusting paiderastic Socrates was too firmly fixed on the popular consciousness to be erased by scholarly argument. It was an image that was to captivate many in the nineteenth-century. Burton cannot even conceive of a meaning of ‘Socratic love’ that does not involve physical sex.47 ‘Socratic literature’ became a euphemism for homosexual pornography (Pearsall 1969, 459). When Simeon Solomon, the Pre-Raphelite painter, is arrested for cottaging, Swinburne describes him as a ‘translator … of Platonic theory into Socratic practice’.48 Sex and Socrates go together. Socrates’ association with Alcibiades generates most of the excitement. In 1862, we find the first publication since 1652 of L’Alcibiade fanciullo a scola (1651). This work, attributed to Antonio Rocco (1586–1652), takes the form of a dialogue between the young Alcibiades and his schoolteacher Filotimo on the benefits of sodomy. Filotimo, a character heavily modelled on Socrates, eventually seduces the reluctant Alcibiades. The work closes with Filotimo sodomizing Alcibiades, who becomes a willing convert to this new pleasure. The work became an instant scandal. The object of various attempts at suppression, it was well known on both sides of the Channel. In certain circles, Filotimo’s desires were perfectly understandable. Taking his cue from the passage in the Phaedrus where ‘an occasional breach of chastity, under the compulsion of a violent passion [was regarded] as a venial error’, 49 Symonds writes ‘It is very well for the sages to frown and talk majestically. Nothing will persuade … Socrates suffered Alcibiades to leave his side unsmitten, or that Achilles sat opposite Patroclus and stroked his lyre. The real ladder of love is to begin with modest kisses, to proceed to sensual caresses, and then …’.50 Symonds leaves unsaid the events of the final stages. Others were happy to be more explicit. In a pornographic etching 45

The defence of Socratic virtue against aspersions to the contrary is a trend that can be traced from antiquity. See, for example, Maximus of Tyre, Orations 18–21, esp. 18.4–5. 46 See further Goulbourne in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. 47 ‘It is the modern fashion to doubt the pederasty … but such a world-wide term as Socratic love can hardly be explained by the lucus-a-non-lucendo theory’ – Burton 1885, 10.214. 48 Swinburne 1959–62, 2.261 (quoted in Dowling 1994, 152). 49 Symonds 1908, ch. 14. 50 Symonds 1908 (1873 ed.). The passage is not included in subsequent editions.

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produced to accompany Forberg’s De figuris Veneris (although in the Victorian period, this collection of etchings was produced and sold separately), we find a fully erect Socrates advancing upon the slumbering figure of Alcibiades (Fig. 6.1). Phallic fountains spurt in the background. In the foreground, lies a scroll on which is written the famous injunction from Delphi (Gnothi seauton ‘know thyself’). The target of this advice is unclear. Is this Alcibiades’ bedside reading? Or has it worked its effect on Socrates? Has a flash of selfawareness caused him to cast aside his professions of chastity? Or is it addressed to us the viewer? In the etching’s invitation to masturbation, might the viewer not also begin to ‘know himself’? Ep ilog ue: S ocra tic l ov e i n C olor ad o Groping for enlightenment amongst the sexual confusion of the final decades of the nineteenth century, same-sex lovers hit upon the figure of Socrates. They created a figure that could speak to their desires and behaviour. This construction was rooted in the anecdotes of the past, and yet was crucially modern. Socrates’ function extended beyond mere legitimation to providing a vocabulary for the expression of same-sex love. On the framework of the life of Socrates, it was possible to pin a number of positions. Socrates has been employed to licence desires and acts from chaste longing to consummation of sexual desire. However, the sex lives of philosophers are not a dusty relic of the past. It lies dormant in the fabric of western culture, always threatening to erupt into the public domain. We have had a recent reminder of this in the courtrooms of Colorado. In 1993, Martha Nussbaum and John Finnis squared off, and, in a series of affidavits and witness testimonies, argued over who knew better the sex lives of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.51 The case arose out of a statute whose application nullified protections against discrimination offered to gays and lesbians in the municipalities of Aspen, Boulder and Denver. Although limited in application to this region of the United States, in attempting to prove a ‘compelling state interest’, it was alleged that Colorado was merely doing what its Hellenic predecessors had done – expressing concern about, and attempting to regulate, a set of morally degenerate and socially harmful relationships. Part of this argument rested on Finnis’ claim that ‘all three of the greatest Greek philosophers, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, regarded homosexual conduct as intrinsically shameful, immoral, and indeed depraved or

51

The dispute is conveniently summarised by Nussbaum 1996. This is a condensed version of a much longer piece published in Virginia Law Review 80 (1994), 1515–1651. Finnis has published his views on the case in Finnis 1994; cf. ‘John Finnis & Martha Nussbaum: Is homosexual conduct wrong? A philosophic exchange’, New Republic, Nov. 15 (1993), 12.

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depraving’.52 To counteract this claim a variety of strategies were utilised – biographical (observe Socrates’ lust for Charmides), philosophical (the conclusions don’t follow from the propositions), textual (Finnis’ contentions were underpinned by corrupt passages), and philological (Finnis misunderstood the meaning of the words). The most contested passages in this debate came from Plato’s Laws.53 According to Finnis, ‘to know or tell Plato’s views on the morality, the immorality, of all such non-marital conduct as homosexual sex acts, one need go no further than these unmistakably clear passages in the Laws, texts with which every other text of Plato can readily be seen to be consistent’.54 Nussbaum’s reply to this argument and explanation of this passage was detailed, comprehensive, innovative – and highly controversial.55 It also brings us full circle. At the start of this chapter, we saw Symonds battling with the same passages. His solution was to argue that they were departures from the Socratic script. They were moments when he heard Plato, the student, speaking, rather than Socrates, the master. Compared to Nussbaum’s response, Symonds’ arguments seem like the product of a wishful imagination combined with a penchant for self-serving casuistry. It feels comfortable to derive wry amusement from his special pleading. Yet, understanding Symonds’ logic allows us an opportunity to glimpse a world outside the binary divisions of modern sexuality. The Socrates of Symonds invites us to enter a place where sexual identity is volatile, and yet desperate for stability. The deployment of Hellenic models helped provide some clarification. However, it exacted a heavy price. This appropriation of Socrates struck at the very heart of the Hellenising movement. It was never possible to read Plato again in the same way. We always knew (or thought we knew) too much. Jowett had struggled to put Plato at the centre of the Greats curriculum. He never could have conceived how that centre would slip away from him. If the ‘politics of camp’ has taught us anything it is that sometimes the most artificial constructions can be the most deadly.56 Drinking with Socrates we can never be certain whether we share in a panacea or a poison. 52

John Mitchell Finnis, Affidavit of 8 October 1993, ¶ 35. The claim is repeated in Finnis 1994, 1055. 53 The most disputed passages were 835d–842a. 54 Finnis 1994, 1061. 55 Her argument gets its fullest treatment in Appendix 3 of Nussbaum 1994. Most serious seems to be the charge made by Finnis that Nussbaum used an out-dated version of LSJ for her interpretation of tolmêma – Finnis 1994, 1058. For Nussbaum’s response, see Nussbaum 1994, 629–30. 56 For the political deployment of camp aesthetics, see Meyer 1994. In arguing for a specifically political interpretation of camp, these essays deliberately oppose themselves to the more comfortable interpretation of this phenomenon in Sontag 1966.

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Swinburne, A.C. (1959–62), The Swinburne Letters, ed. C.Y. Lang, New Haven: Yale University Press. Symonds, J. (1908), A Problem in Greek Ethics: being an inquiry into the phenomenon of sexual inversion, addressed especially to medical psychologists and jurists, London: The Areopagitica Society [‘Privately Printed in Hollan[d] for the Society’]. Turner, F.M. (1981), The Greek Heritage in Victorian Britain, New Haven and London: Yale University Press. Warren, E.P. (1928) [under pseudonym A. L. Raile], A Defense of Uranian Love, London: privately printed. Weeks, J. (1985), ‘Inverts, perverts, and Mary-Annes: male prostitution and the regulation of homosexuality in England in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries’, in S.J. Licata and R.P. Petersen (eds), The Gay Past: a collection of historical essays, New York: Harrington Park Press, 113–34. Woods, G. (1998), A History of Gay Literature: the male tradition, New Haven and London: Yale University Press. Zeller, E. (1885), Socrates and the Socratic Schools, London: Longmans.

Fig. 6.1 Drawing by Paul Avril, engraved by T. Fillon, for a 1906 Paris edition of F.K. Forberg’s Manuel d’érotologie classique (= De Figuris Veneris).

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~ Taylor & Francis

~ Taylor & Francis Group http://tayl ora ndfra ncis.com

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7 The thorn of Sokrates: Georg Kaiser’s Alkibiades Saved and Bertolt Brecht’s Sokrates Wounded * John J. White After completing his play Alkibiades Saved (Der gerettete Alkibiades) in 1919, Georg Kaiser boasted to the Munich theatre director soon to be responsible for its première that he had ‘accomplished something virtually impossible. All of Plato is in this work – all of Nietzsche. I have created Greece anew and toppled the Greece of Goethe and Winckelmann. The civilized world must be grateful to me – if not, then there is no longer any such thing as civilization’.1 An apparently for once more modest Bertolt Brecht finished his short story Sokrates Wounded (Der verwundete Sokrates) two decades later, but does not appear to have spoken of the work in comparable terms to anyone. Indeed, his first recorded comment, made much later in response to a letter from a GDR educationist who wanted to adapt the work for the stage, was that the story would probably need a whole booklet of accompanying explanatory notes, if it were ever to achieve the right effect ‘in our present world’ (GBA 30: 136). Despite this, it was even published in the GDR in 1949 by a children’s publisher (in Ilse Ploog’s Kinderbuchverlag) and the ‘Brecht für Kinder’ experiment appears to have been a surprising success *

Following the convention established by Kaiser’s translator Quincy Morgan, the spelling ‘Socrates’ refers to the historical figure, the form ‘Sokrates’ will be used for the fictive protagonists of the works by Kaiser and Brecht. The two forms ‘Alcibiades’ and ‘Alkibiades’ will be used to make a similar distinction. 1 Letter of 13 August to Dr Otto Liebscher of the Residenz-Theater Munich (Kaiser 1980, 174–75). As Simon Goldhill’s chapter on ‘the rupture between nineteenth-century ideological appropriations of classical Greece and the deliberately shocking, violent readings of modernism’ (Goldhill 2002, 108–77) has demonstrated, such claims were not rare at the time. But whereas they were generally influenced by nationalism, psychoanalysis and anthropology, and in the German context above all come in the wake of Nietzsche’s stress on the Dionysian (Krause 2003), Kaiser’s debt is more to Strindberg and German Expressionism and Brecht’s to the dialectical materialist conception of history as class struggle.

From Socrates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, ed. M.B. Trapp. Copyright © 2007 by M.B. Trapp. Published by Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Gower House, Croft Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 3HR, UK. 119

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(according to GBA 16: 661). Back in 1938, at the time of its composition, Brecht was in no position to situate his work in cultural terms in the bold way Kaiser had. He appears to have known little Plato apart from the Symposium and there is no evidence of his ever having read Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music (Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik, 1872), although repeated references in his writings to Aristophanes’s Clouds show that he was familiar with at least one other depiction of Socrates from the Hellenic period. Working less eclectically, Brecht sought to impose a draconian Marxist interpretation on the Greece of the Peloponnesian War period rather than subvert any stereotype of ‘noble simplicity and serene greatness’ derived from Winckelmann’s History of Ancient Art (Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums, 1764), though like Kaiser he probably knew Hölderlin’s poem Sokrates und Alkibiades. Brecht’s principal, if not sole, intertext for this exercise was Kaiser’s own Alkibiades Saved, a work he initially dismissed as crude Expressionist allegory yet subsequently praised for taking modern theatre to new ‘spiritual’ heights.2 It is to Kaiser as author of this one specific work that Brecht dedicated his Sokrates Wounded, although this, like the reference to spiritual heights, may be more of a backhanded compliment than has usually been assumed.3 Tellingly, his draft endnote (quoted in GBA 18: 628) to the first edition of the Tales from the Calendar (Kalendergeschichten) in which the story first appeared points out that the thorn-motif is borrowed from Kaiser’s Alkibiades Saved, but seems at the same time to imply that Brecht’s debt to Kaiser’s play is of this circumscribed order only. Which is true, in as much as he does not seek to compete with Kaiser’s play, but instead to offer a Kontrafaktur to it. Unlike the Hölderlin of Sokrates und Alkibiades, who was intrigued by the attraction of opposites in the friendship, Kaiser and Brecht were drawn to the Sokrates-Alkibiades relationship by the material’s pacifist potential. To place a dissident Socrates, ‘the dissenter par excellence’ (Lane 2001, 25), in a context of triumphalist nationalism and belligerent hostility to the citystate’s enemies is arguably to add a further variation to the philosopher’s own conception of himself as ‘gadfly’ to the sluggish horse of Athens (Apology 30e). The dominant contrast in Kaiser’s Alkibiades Saved is between, on the one hand, a Sokrates stigmatized by an uncomfortably probing 2

Compare the charge ‘Expressionismus bedeutet: Vergröberung’ (in ‘Über den Expressionismus’) (GBA 21: 48–49), citing Kaiser’s ‘Allegorie’ Der gerettete Alkibiades as evidence, with the later praise for the same play’s ‘Revolutionierung des Theaters’ (‘Theater als geistige Angelegenheit’, 1928) (GBA 21: 252–53). For a fuller account, see Krause 2006. 3 Walter H. Sokel, who was single-handedly responsible for the revival of scholarly interest in Kaiser’s play in the post-1945 period, above all in America, merely notes that ‘Brecht paid his tribute to Kaiser, when he transformed Alcibiades Saved into one of his Calendar stories’ (Sokel 1959, 108). Ernst Schürer’s juxtaposition of the two works (Schürer 1971a, 71–80) also detects no criticism in Brecht’s treatment of the Kaiser source-material.

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intellect 4 and, because of the repercussions of the thorn in his foot, someone who becomes a national hero by default, and, on the other, the charismatic Alkibiades, hero of the gymnasia and (here) a general upon whose success the fate of Athens appears to rest. Such a configuration represents a further reworking of the theme of the conflict between the pacifist and the soldier in Kaiser’s work, above all that between the leading burgher Eustache de Saint-Pierre and the hotheaded Duguesclins, in the writer’s most famous pacifist play: The Burghers of Calais (Die Bürger von Calais, 1914). Sokrates Wounded – the original draft title for which best translates as ‘Sokrates goes to war’5 – dates from 1938, the time when Brecht also started work on his most famous anti-war play: Mother Courage and her Children (Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder). It is not his only treatment of Socrates. There is a verse on Socrates’ fate, warning of the dangers of virtue, in the ‘Solomon Song’ in The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper) of 1929; and when the song re-appeared in Mother Courage it was specifically deployed to refer to the death of Courage’s first son to die, Schweizerkas, suggesting that he had not heeded the warning embodied in Socrates’ fate at the hands of the Athenians. The philosopher also figures in one of the Mr Keuner stories from Tales from the Calendar, alternative titles ‘Sokrates’ and ‘Mr Keuner and epistemological theory’, where Brecht takes up the discussion of knowledge and ignorance in Plato’s Apology 29b.6 And it is clear from draft sketches for the incomplete Messingkauf Dialogues, also started in the late 1930s, that the politically committed philosopher there is in part modeled on Socrates (see GBA 22: 793). Moreover, Socrates even influenced the way Brecht conceived of some of his own creations. In an intriguing pairing, the stage directions to his first play, Baal (1918), refer to the protagonist as having a skull reminiscent of those of Socrates and Verlaine (GBA 1: 18). In contrast, a very different, even more robustly physical Socrates is being alluded to when Brecht tells the Swedish artist Hans Tombrock, who was at the time preparing some illustrations for Life of Galileo (Leben des Galilei), that he wants 4

Sokel 1959, 104 interprets Socrates’ presentation of himself as pure intellect as a ‘compensation for his deformity’, an interpretation that works well for the early parts of the play, but underestimates the philosopher’s transformation after his experiences at Potidaea. Kenworthy 1957 and Schürer 1971b offer more differentiated accounts of the play’s treatment of the mind/body dichotomy. 5 ‘Sokrates im Krieg’, GBA 18: 575. 6 ‘After reading a book on the history of philosophy, Mr K expressed disapproval of philosophers’ attempts to represent things as unknowable in principle. “When the Sophists claimed to know a great deal without having studied anything,” he said, “the Sophist Sokrates made the arrogant claim that he knew he knew nothing. One would have expected him to add: for I, too, have studied nothing. (To know something we have to study.) But he does not seem to have said anything further, and perhaps the immense applause which broke out after his first remark, and which lasted for two thousand years, would have drowned any further remark.”’ (Brecht 1961, 118).

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his Galileo to have ‘the face of Socrates’.7 But despite these various other toyings with the figure’s associations and literary possibilities, it is the Sokrates of Sokrates Wounded that was to remain the most substantial and complex version of the figure to be found in Brecht’s work. ‘For twenty years’, Brecht’s Sokrates declares in Sokrates Wounded, ‘I’ve been teaching pacifism’. Brecht had been doing the same for exactly the same time (i.e. since 1918), yet according to his alter ego Sokrates: ‘the present time was an unfavourable moment for pacifism. After a defeat even the underdogs approved of war, at any rate for a while, until they noticed that for them there wasn’t all that much difference between victory and defeat’ (Brecht 1961, 96).8 All of which sounds more like a comment on late 1930s Europe, and like Brecht’s own warnings about the imminence of a fresh war, than a reflection of the Greece of the fifth century BC. In fact, Kaiser and Brecht both use the image of the historical Socrates selectively and invent new material for the purpose of contemporary social criticism, and in the case of the pacifist theme, mainly in order to deliver – in quasiparable form – a warning about the danger of running headlong into another war. Doubtless, both works under discussion here are examples of what have recently been referred to as those questionable ‘occasions when ideological tunnel vision freezes Socrates as an icon for a single purpose, severing him from the rich complexities of his history and later understandings of it’ (Lane 2001, 49). But like so many committed writers before and after them in the modern period, Kaiser and Brecht would no doubt have replied that the situation justified the seemingly heretical approach taken. The first version of Kaiser’s Alkibiades Saved was written against the background of mass slaughter in the trenches and was first staged not long after what the Germans saw as the humiliating defeat of November 1918, the ‘stab-in-the-back’ which had left the country still licking its wounds and seeking ways to make good the sense of betrayal and the humiliation the Versailles conditions represented.9 Sokrates Wounded was in its turn conceived in Danish exile as a reaction to Hitler Germany’s annexation of 7

‘Bei mir ist [Galileo] ein kräftiger Physiker mit Embonpoint, Sokratesgesicht, ein lärmender, vollsaftiger Mann mit Humor, der neue Physikertyp, irdisch, ein großer Lehrer, Lieblingshaltung: Bauch vorgestreckt, beide Hände auf den beiden Arschbacken’ (GBA 29: 181). There is no hint of Socrates’ legendary ugliness here, or any echo of Kaiser’s hunchbacked protagonist. The description appears to be closer to the compliment Brecht once paid his charismatic mentor Arthur Kutscher, Theaterwissenschaftler at Munich University: ‘Er war eine Persönlichkeit wie Sokrates und Tolstoi’ (GBA 28: 45). 8 GBA 18: 422; Brecht 1961, 96. On the pitfalls of invoking Socrates as a spokesman for the pacifist cause, see Arendt 1973 and the ‘Socrates and Vietnam’ section of Lane 2001 (29–32). 9 Only one reviewer, ‘H.M.’ in the Württemberger Zeitung of 2 February 1920, felt emboldened to draw attention to the contemporary parallels to Kaiser’s material. His piece is reprinted in Tyson 1984, 1: 258–59.

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Austria and the Sudetenland and in the face of the looming spectre of a new war of even more devastating proportions than the one which stands in the wings of Kaiser’s play. The essential background to this short story is most vividly set out in Brecht’s panoramic documentary play The Private Life of the Master Race (Furcht und Elend des III. Reiches, 1938) where pre-Anschluß Third Reich Germany is depicted as a country preparing for a series of neverending wars of aggression. Neither Sokrates-work is restricted to the anti-war theme alone, however. Critical treatment of the unthinkingly militarist mentality and of society’s need for warrior-heroes is confined to the early scenes of Kaiser’s play, while the Marxist Brecht’s inevitable picture of war as a capitalist phenomenon (in essence a political re-interpretation of Part One of Kaiser’s work, in the light of the Seventh Congress of the Comintern’s equation of fascism and capitalism in 1935) presents its sweeping Marxist-Leninist conception of the materialist dialectic of history so insistently that the story soon projects its readers beyond the ostensible setting of ancient Athens at war into the pressing problems of the twentieth century. The result is an example of what Brecht liked to think of as history ‘x-rayed’: i.e. penetrated via the use of illuminating parable-plots to reveal the bones of its dialectical materialist structure and to indicate just where the events of both the past and the present are leading.10 Although they develop their images of the Greek philosopher in very different directions, both works start by putting their Sokrateses on to the field of battle. Sokrates at war is assumed to be a Sokrates for the twentieth century. But the protagonist is conscripted merely in order to show the futility and waste of war. The primary source for such a bold move is Alcibiades’s tribute in the Symposium to Socrates’ heroism at Potidaea and Delion.11 In this eulogy, Socrates is praised by Alcibiades for his valour when confronted by the enemy, for having saved Alcibiades’s life and for showing great humility after the event: When there was the battle which resulted in the generals actually giving the prize for valour to me, it was this man, and no one else, who saved my life, because he wasn’t prepared to desert me when I’d been wounded; he succeeded in getting both my weapons and armour and myself to safety. At the time, Socrates, I did in fact urge the generals to give the prize to you – here you 10

In ‘Studium des ersten Auftritts in Shakespeares Corialanus’, Brecht refers to his adaptation as offering a ‘piece of x-rayed history’ (‘ein Stück durchleuchteter Geschichte’) (GBA 23: 402), i.e. a process which allows the dialectical bones of the historical pattern to be highlighted. 11 Plato’s Apology (28e) cites Amphipolis as the other campaign in which Socrates served. The intensity of the battle at Potidaea (432BC) led Kaiser to focus on this particular theatre of combat for his fictive treatment of the philosopher at war. Brecht on the other hand chooses Delion, perhaps to emphasize that his is a different Sokrates responding to very different circumstances.

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won’t either blame me, or say I’m not telling the truth; but actually, when the generals took regard of my standing in society and proposed to give me the prize, you were more eager than the generals that I should get it rather than yourself. Then again, gentlemen, it was worth just seeing Socrates, when the army was withdrawing in retreat from Delium; I happened to be there as a cavalryman, while he was a hoplite. Well, people were already scattered, and he was withdrawing, and Laches with him. I happened along, and as soon as I saw the two of them I called out to them to keep their courage up, and kept reassuring them that I wouldn’t desert them. It was there that I got an even better sight of Socrates than I did at Potidaea (I was less afraid, because I was on horseback), first of how much more composed he was than Laches; but then it seemed to me, Aristophanes, to use something you wrote, that he was making his way along there just as he does here at home, ‘swaggering and casting his eyes this way and that’, observing people on our own side and on the enemy’s in the same calm way, and making it plain to anyone, even if they were some distance away, that if anyone laid a hand on him, they’d meet with some pretty stiff resistance. That’s why he actually got away safely, along with his companion; it’s a general rule in war that people don’t even try to lay a hand on someone who behaves like this, but go after those who are running away as fast as their feet will carry them. (Symposium, 220d–221c)12

Of all the recollections and revelations concerning Socrates which derive from Alcibiades, this might seem to be a perverse starting-point for an antiwar play: a brief segment of a eulogy addressed by a leader of men to a fellow combatant is wilfully isolated to serve as little more than a pretext for a cynical counter-version.13 And this is a strikingly wayward move, given the number of passages in Plato where claims are made about the particular bravery of philosophers, above all in the face of death: e.g. the Phaedo 58e, 63b–e and 68a–e, as well as the reports in Plato and Xenophon concerning the manner of Socrates’ death. In the modern context, cynicism is offered as the appropriate antidote to the fascist cult of heroism in the face of death and an unquestioningly positive valorization of war. As this already suggests, one major feature common to Alkibiades Saved and Sokrates Wounded is the extreme liberties that their authors take with the received image of Socrates and with their historical sources in general. While both Alcibiades and Socrates are associated with bravery in the Symposium 12

Tr. C.J. Rowe. Under the heading ‘Berichtigungen’ Brecht once sketched out a series of dialectical ‘Mythenkorrekturen’ offering alternative versions to well-known myths and legends. The material relating to this ‘correctives’ project, held in the Berlin Bertolt-Brecht-Archive, is described in the notes to ‘Zweifel am Mythos’ (GBA 19: 662–64). The fact that Der verwundete Sokrates was seen as one such ‘Gegenversion’ (GBA 19: 677) suggests that Brecht may have been drawn to the paradigm, not just the material, by Kaiser’s play and by a familiarity with Kaiser’s earlier bold reworkings of legends and mythical material (e.g. of the OT Judith story in Die jüdische Witwe [1911] and the Tristan story in König Hahnrei [1913]). 13

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and Alcibiades is particularly anxious to award the laurels to his friend, neither Kaiser nor Brecht appears to have felt an obligation to respect this aspect of the traditional image of their protagonists. In 1923 Kaiser published an essay on the subject of his various works’ disrespectful attitude to the past.14 He argued that the writer is not a faithful chronicler (‘Registrator in Weltvorfällen’), but has carte blanche to ‘bend’ and ‘correct’ historical material (the words ‘korrigieren’ and ‘Biegung’ are Kaiser’s) and to impose patterns of his own intuition on events because of history’s absurdity and evident lack of teleology. As far as Kaiser was concerned, the presence of great names from history in literary works was no guarantee of historical accuracy or even biographical authenticity. Brecht could be equally cavalier with source-material. In 1955 an East German schoolteacher wrote to him asking him why he had erroneously allowed his Sokrates to be fighting against the Persians – rather than the Spartans – at Delion. Brecht’s secretary passed the letter on to him urging him to be easy on a fellow-socialist reader (‘she deserves a nice answer’ (GBA 30: 618)). He was advised to own up and admit that he was not interested which particular war it was or in fidelity to historical fact, but simply wanted an example of war as an imperialist phenomenon. Nevertheless, for all its cavalier treatment of the historical material and its various ideological distortions, Brecht’s story displays a far greater sense of historicity than Kaiser’s sometimes infuriatingly abstract play. The invented ‘Thorn of Sokrates’ motif, the central image in both Kaiser’s work and Brecht’s, is a classic case of a modern writer passing off invented detail as historical fact. In Kaiser’s version of events (presented as the true account of what happened at Potidaea),15 Sokrates may also appear to save Alkibiades, but he does so under very different circumstances from those recorded in the Symposium and much dialogue is devoted to showing that his motives are very different from those of Plato’s Socrates. At the beginning of the second part of Kaiser’s play, when the eulogies and victory ceremonies of Part One are over, Sokrates reveals, in the face of

14

‘HISTORIENTREUE: Am Beispiel der Flucht nach Venedig’, Berliner Tageblatt, 4 September 1923, reprinted in Kaiser 1971–2, 4: 576–79. 15 Der gerettete Alkibiades was first published by Kiepenheuer (Berlin) in 1920, the year after it was written. In 1918 Kaiser wrote to his friend Gustav Landauer: ‘Die Gestalt des Sokrates stellt sich mir mit wachsender Deutlichkeit hin. Neben Alkibiades. Dass Sokrates die “Einheit” – hier die des Alkibiades – zerstört, Nietzsche schrieb davon. Doch Sokrates wird mir nicht ein Hassender – ein Mitleidender erscheint er mir, wenn er die Zerstörung des Alkibiades vollenden muss, um ihn zu retten’ (Kaiser 1980, 138–39). At the end of the Second World War, when Fritz Stiedry was setting Alkibiades Saved to music (according to a letter of 22 April 1945; Kaiser 1980, 1129), Kaiser observed, in a letter to Caesar von Arx (Kaiser 1980, 1131) that he found it difficult to imagine ‘einen singenden Sokrates’.

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Xantippe’s sceptical questioning, just what really happened at Potidaea and why the truth must forever remain a secret: XANTIPPE. What have you done? SOKRATES. I – – saved Alkibiades and gave the golden wreath to Alkibiades. XANTIPPE. Are you afraid – of your own heroic deed? SOKRATES. It doesn’t exist. I didn’t want to save Alkibiades – and I didn’t want to give Alkibiades the golden wreath. XANTIPPE. You saved Alkibiades – SOKRATES. I – I with my humpback – the last in the line – : must they not place me above Alkibiades, who shimmers white in body and armor? Who am I – I who even gave the wreath to Alkibiades – and set myself above reward and thanks that are due to him? – – Who am I? – – A badly wounded man who drove a thorn into his foot in the cactus field and could not go along in the retreat! – – who laid about him because a man wanted to stir him up to be his guide! – – who was indifferent to anyone who came, whether friend or foe – – : only wanting to go on sitting, so that no footstep should drive the thorn deeper into his foot! – – who could not climb the steps in the civic temple, because the thorn was like fire in his flesh – – – – just as it is a terrible fire now, if I don’t support my foot – over this stool, which lets it dangle a hand’s-breadth above the floor. XANTIPPE, beside him. You didn’t pull the thorn out? SOKRATES. The base of it broke off. XANTIPPE. I’ll get a doctor. SOKRATES. He would bring it to light – and more would be revealed: – – the monstrous swindle, which would make Alkibiades ridiculous for all time! XANTIPPE. A thorn you ran into your foot – SOKRATES. […] The cactus field extends over the plain on which we retreated. That is notorious – and now a cactus thorn is stuck in my foot. One can’t walk ten steps like this – and I stayed behind – and saved Alkibiades – and gave away the golden wreath under the perpendicular stairs. The doctor will quickly make me well – – but he’ll make Alkibiades sick to the end of his spine! XANTIPPE. What in the world will you do? SOKRATES. Save Alkibiades!!!! XANTIPPE. You are suffering! SOKRATES. Beyond words, wife!! – – It splits me from the bottom up – – sparks shoot across my eyes – – when I step on my foot!! I am terrified of every step – – as of being executed with ax and noose – – but that only kills once. – – I die a thousand times – – in every hour – – and cannot die!!!! (Kaiser 1963, 219–220)

Factually, this extract offers little more than a reprise of what the audience has already witnessed during the earlier onstage battle-scene in the first half of Part One: i.e. that Sokrates had failed to acquit himself honourably at Potidaea, had not, as was generally supposed, rallied for some last-ditch stand against a vastly superior enemy, and thus rescued his general in a

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manner befitting a soldier. Instead, he had been running away across a cactus field when a large spine pierced his foot and prevented any further flight. But here Kaiser’s version differs from Brecht’s later story. For in his agony, Sokrates flails around with his sword so violently that he creates the (implausible) impression among the enemy that they have come upon the vanguard of a strong Athenian contingent resolutely refusing to yield any further ground. As the audience knows, his misconstrued frantic outburst is no more than the result of intense pain, not part of some tactical deception for the purpose of saving Alkibiades, let alone the whole of Athens. The assumed heroism, already being celebrated by the whole city, was no more than the action of someone who was at the time, as Sokrates puts it, ‘indifferent to anyone who came, whether friend or foe’ (Kaiser 1963, 220). This potentially damaging account departs from the noble legend established by Plato in order to subvert the myths of comradeship-in-arms and heroism on the battlefield in the face of overwhelming odds and to expose them as fictions necessary for the survival of the state. Whereas Alcibiades’s eulogy in the Symposium was predicated on – and reinforced – the established military ethos of the time, Kaiser’s play exposes society’s deep-seated need to glorify warfare and perpetuate a value-system that sanctions the collectively bonding myths of heroic patriotism. By no means a hero on the field of battle in the way that he was in Plato’s version, Kaiser’s Sokrates plays a largely passive role as accident victim in the events surrounding Alkibiades’s ‘rescue’. It is only later that he starts to behave stoically and in a spirit of reasoned altruism. Kaiser once referred to Sokrates’ ‘transformation’ (Kaiser 1971–2, 4: 554), using a much-favoured German Expressionist concept with overtones of Saul of Tarsus’s conversion on the road to Damascus, as mediated by August Strindberg’s To Damascus. Certainly, Kaiser’s Sokrates undergoes a far greater change than Brecht’s figure does (Brecht’s Sokrates is a class-conscious, rationalist cynic from the outset); and as a consequence of this transformation he displays a new kind of heroism which one commentator has interpreted as transcending the earlier mind/body antithesis in a new synthesis of love for his fellow men (Petersen 1980, 86–87). One consequence of this is that the word ‘saved’ in the play’s title acquires profoundly different – ironic or serious – connotations at different stages of the Stationendrama’s unfolding action. It is easy to see the attractions of the ‘Thorn of Sokrates’ motif for a twentieth-century writer wishing to question the political function (in Wilhelmine or Hitler Germany) of longstanding ideas of selfless heroism, the assumed link between patriotism and the need to conduct successful wars and between national identity and consciously partaking of an illustrious history based on territorial expansion. This is one of the reasons why Brecht so readily took over the thorn-motif from Kaiser, now even drawing attention

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to it in his short story’s title. Once we know the circumstances under which the fleeing hoplite was injured, the phrase ‘Sokrates Wounded’ arouses far less noble associations than the title ‘Alkibiades Saved’ did. More importantly, in Brecht’s version the anti-idealist notion of performing seemingly heroic feats exclusively because of a painful thorn in one’s foot, rather than in accordance with the false consciousness conditioned by some idealist conception of virtue, fits neatly into the whole base-superstructure model which informs the tale. In contrast, what the thorn-motif initially offered Kaiser was little more than a simple debunking new twist, worthy, some Germans at the time thought, of George Bernard Shaw, a trouvaille possibly even indebted to Shaw’s Androcles and the Lion (Tyson 1984, 1: 242, 252). While Kaiser’s ‘alternative version’ posing as a true account may also owe something to the re-writing of history to be found in Nietzsche’s Towards a Genealogy of Morals (Zur Genealogie der Moral, 1886), the contrast between assumed heroism and the banal thorn causality lacks the ideological rationale and subtlety of Nietzsche’s counter-historical constructs. But as his play unfolds, Kaiser develops the thorn-motif in more inventive directions. Which is just as well, since the thorn remains embedded in Sokrates’ foot for virtually the entire play and is still there long after it has served its purpose as focal point of the play’s critique of military values. Although the Sokrates of Kaiser’s Alkibiades Saved is ostensibly a philosopher, the work makes many of its key points through imagery rather than discursive argument (hence the centrality of the thorn-motif). An equally crucial image is that of the herm. Almost as if to parody the association of the Apolline with the statuesque in Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy, Kaiser’s Sokrates is identified in the Dramatis personae as ‘a maker of hermae’ (Kaiser 1963, 202),16 not the depersonalized, yet at the same time phallic herms of antiquity, but, it is implied, ones made in Sokrates’ own image. Repeated references to this fact embroider on the herm’s symbolic implications for the work’s theme of pacifism. For a start, it is significant that Sokrates only becomes a maker of herms after the Battle of Potidaea. Having seen war, he becomes a pacifist, and being a pacifist is equated with his newfound artistic activity, one that emphasizes the head rather than the body and draws a connection between cerebrality and a consciously anti-war stance. Because he makes ‘images of heads resting on stone pillars, images which lack a body’, his art is, according to Sokel, ‘“head-art”, a metaphoric visualization of Kaiser’s own art’ (Sokel 1959, 105). It is thus not by chance that Sokrates is specifically making a herm when Alkibiades comes to visit 16

Sophroniscus, Socrates’ father, was a sculptor or stonemason, and some ancient sources claimed that his son initially followed in his footsteps (Diog. Laert. Lives 2.19). One of the places he was supposed to have conversed in was the shop of Simon the cobbler (Diog. Laert. Lives 2.122), but Brecht makes Sokrates himself a cobbler.

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him in his attic-hideaway to confront his rescuer with his elusiveness since the victory celebrations. Early in the encounter, Sokrates uses the artefact he is working on to speak indirectly to Alkibiades of his new values: ‘I am making a herma [sic], a monument […]. Only the head. What [value] is there in the arms and legs? They run and strike [at things] – but the head carries out what is special’ (Kaiser 1963, 224). If Sokrates, the personification of reason and pure intellect, as Sokel interprets him (Sokel 1959, 104–10), identifies with the body-less head symbolized by his sculpture, then Alkibiades the warrior is associated with arms and legs. And war itself, dismissed by Sokrates as a vain ‘play of arms and legs’ (Kaiser 1963, 224), is thus symbolically criticized by the sheer act of herm-making. Sokrates’ tidy mind/body dichotomy is, of course, at the same time mocked by the presence of the thorn in his foot; as one commentator puts it, ‘intellect is the true thorn in the flesh’ (Schürer 1971b, 16). There are times in Kaiser’s play where the body’s ability to dominate the thinking person is demonstrated, and others where thought seems to be primarily a compensatory activity (either in respect of the thorn or of Sokrates’ legendary facial ugliness and physical deformity). But the early pacifist scenes on the whole manage to get by on a simple contrast between a positively valorized head, the seat of reason (and, by extension, pacifism) and the destructive use to which mankind puts hands and feet. (The ancient Greek herm’s characteristic phallus is never referred to, either because it is of no relevance to the pacifist theme or to this particular newfound asceticism, or possibly for reasons of contemporary good taste.) In such a context, the image of the thorn in the foot also stands for the symbolic immobilization of the limb associated with combat. The series of antithetical images with which the play contrasts Sokrates and Alkibiades also encompasses the traditional opposition between Alcibiades’ beauty and physical prowess and Socrates’ extreme ugliness. (Only right at the end of the play will the transfigured inner beauty, his heroism of the spirit, be recognized and praised above Alkibiades’ superficial attractions.) Kaiser’s Sokrates is even endowed with a hunchback, a feature which is also made to emphasize his essentially cerebral nature, for he calls his hump ‘a detour in my back, so that the blood won’t rise too fast into my head and flood my reason’ (Kaiser 1963, 225). These two incongruous invented details – his newfound vocation as a maker of herms and his deformed body – give some sense of the non-realistic, Expressionist quality of Kaiser’s play. In a real world, one might be surprised at the idea of the Athenians sending the physically challenged off to fight their battles for them. And one might well wonder why a philosopher should be introduced as a herm-maker rather than as a thinker. However, in Kaiser’s dreamlike symbolic world, images can be temporarily foregrounded for symbolic reasons, rather than rationally contributing to some overall

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biographical or intellectual coherence. The hunchback, emphasizing his powerful cerebrality and disdain for the body, is not a handicap in the way the injured foot is; rather it is his strength. Only Sokrates mentions his hunchback; others seem to be oblivious to it. His herm-making only becomes significant because of the pacifist terms in which he presents the activity and the contexts in which it becomes an anti-war statement. An early review suggested that much of Alkibiades Saved teeters on the brink of satirical comedy without having the courage of its convictions and taking its material sufficiently further in what might have been a more fruitful direction.17 What the reviewer doubtless had in mind was the series of further misunderstandings which all derive from Sokrates’ need to keep the thorn in his foot (the state-threatening truth behind Alkibiades’s rescue) a secret. Thus, it is not humility, as the Athenians assume, which prevents Sokrates from climbing the steep steps to the platform on the Areopagus where the Prize-Awarder and Eulogizers sit during the victory celebrations at the end of Part One, but his compromising injury. It is not the stoicism with which he is traditionally associated that makes him refuse to get up and resist Alkibiades’s attempt to murder him when the latter feels mocked by the man’s provocative pacifism, but again the thorn in the sole of his foot. For the same reason, Sokrates refuses to surrender to the courtesan Phryne’s attempts to seduce him and paradoxically wins her true affection when she thinks she recognizes in him the embodiment of a new spiritual (Socratic/Platonic) form of love. (Kaiser appears to be using the name Phryne generically here, for there is no legend of an encounter between Socrates and the legendary Phryne who stood model for Praxiteles’s statue of Aphrodite of Cnidus. The failed seduction appears to be a variation on Alcibiades’s failure to seduce Socrates, while the generic use of the name Phryne probably derives from a comparable typifying use in Rilke’s poem ‘Die Flamingos’ in the Neue Gedichte.) It is almost as if debunking war has now given way to de-mythologizing Sokrates in all his aspects, and for a while it looks as if the play is becoming too comfortably formulaic in its repeated scenarios based on a structure of dramatic irony, with all the apparent virtues displayed by Sokrates – including humility, an adamant rejection of society’s honours, stoicism, asceticism and Socratic love – all deriving from a single inadmissible and hence inescapable cause of which the audience has been aware from the outset. What nevertheless prevents the play from degenerating into a mere catalogue of predictable misunderstandings is the fact that Sokrates does not simply suffer from the 17

‘Es bedurfte nur eines kleinen Rucks, und das Ganze könnte als vollendete Satire und beissende Ironie gelten auf alles geschichtlich überlieferte Heroentum. Gesehen aus einer Perspektive, die Shaws witzige Persiflage vorgezeichnet hat’ (‘D.’ in the Stuttgarter Neues Tagblatt, 3 March 1920) (reprinted in Tyson 1984, 1: 255).

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thorn, he suffers for Alkibiades and for Athens. Schürer’s shrewd observation that ‘in order to preserve the illusions of Alkibiades, [Sokrates] places himself in the position of an uncompromising champion of the intellect just at the time when he has come to appreciate its limitations’ (Schürer 1971b, 16–17) shows just how sophisticated the treatment of the mind/body relationship has become by contrast to the simple antithesis in Part One. Out of an accidental personal injury gradually grows a whole new social ethos.18 The linking of now self-imposed sufferings with the martyr’s crown of thorns and of the draught of hemlock with the biblical cup in the Garden of Gethsemane inevitably becomes most pronounced in the final hemlockscene. The thorn which on the battlefield at Potidaea served as little more than an anti-heroic device eventually becomes the symbol of martyrdom. Like the death of Eustache de Saint-Pierre in Kaiser’s The Burghers of Calais and that of the unnamed Cashier in From Morn to Midnight (Von morgens bis mitternachts, 1912), Sokrates’ end is decked out with various christological images. What began as a simple pacifist parable has now become the vehicle for depicting a new spiritual kind of heroic self-sacrifice to and for the state. In Part Three of Kaiser’s play, the thorn no longer needs to remain a secret. Alkibiades has turned over the herms (in an act of iconoclasm really directed against their maker Sokrates) and the Elders are induced to put Alkibiades and his mentor Sokrates on trial, the former in absentia. In the final scene, Sokrates becomes another of German Expressionism’s mythical ‘New Men’ whose mission is to save the world by sacrificing their lives for it to be redeemed.19 What in Plato’s writings was often a narrower concept of 18

Kaiser’s essay ‘Mythos’ (1919) sets out the idiosyncratic theory of the small beginnings of myth upon which Der gerettete Alkibiades is predicated: ‘Wirksam wird Mythos mit kleinstem Mittel – und schießt gleich aus geringstem Anlaß in unermessliche Erweiterungen. Das ist Zeichen des Mythos: sehr klein den Anlaß zu wählen. […] Mächtig schafft Mythos im Sinnbild – und im kleinsten Ding des Splitters eines Dorns, den er aus Wurzel in den Weltall gestoßen zum Riesenschatten des Weltalls erhebt, beweist er seine schöpferische Macht – die Menschheit ist, wenn sich der Mensch entscheidet: im Geringsten das Unendliche auszudenken’ (Theaterzeitung der Staatlichen Bühnen Münchens, 1, iv (1920), 1–2, reprinted in Kaiser 1971–2, 4: 554–6, here 555). 19 As these remarks suggest, there are parallels between Sokrates’ death and that of the pacifist New Man Eustache de Saint-Pierre in The Burghers of Calais, where an act of selfsacrifice saves the citizens of Calais while inspiring his fellow martyrs whose death is demanded by the King of England. But according to an alternative reading, the death of Kaiser’s Sokrates ‘really did not save Alkibiades and Greece, [a fact] corroborated by the quotation from Hölderlin’s Hyperion which precedes the play. Again Kaiser has used an ironic title’ (Schürer 1971b, 76f.). The reference is to the following epigraph: ‘Wie ein unermeßlicher Schiffbruch, wenn die Orkane verstummt sind, und der Leichnam der zerschmetterten Flotte unkenntlich auf der Sandbank liegt, so lag vor uns Athen, und die verwaisten Säulen standen vor uns, wie die nackten Stämme eines Waldes, der am Abend noch grünte und des Nachts im Feuer aufging’ (Kaiser 1971, 755). Reading the play as a parable about the present, however, one could argue that Hölderlin’s image of a destroyed Athens functions less pessimistically and is

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sacrificing one’s life for a friend now becomes a messianic martyrdom where saving Alkibiades is inextricably bound up with the idea of saving Athens (in other words, the world). Kaiser once said that he did not want his Sokrates to personify the unequivocally negative principle that he represented in Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy.20 As a consequence, the redeeming counterbalance to our first, anti-heroic image of Sokrates in a frenzy of pain on the battlefield, caring about neither friend nor foe, is that of the man who confesses to Xantippe that he cannot simply call a doctor to remove the cactus spine from his foot because that ‘would bring [the thorn] to light – and more would be revealed – the monstrous swindle, which would make Alkibiades ridiculous for all time!’ (Kaiser 1963, 220). Three times he uses the word ‘sympathy’, rather than ‘love’ (evidence, if it were still needed, of how far from the Nietzschean Superman and the world of The Birth of Tragedy Kaiser’s hero now stands), to explain his feelings for Alkibiades, the friend whose reputation he will not dishonour; and in doing so he also alludes to the fact that the play should really have been called Alkibiades thrice saved. During the battle when he is first thought to have saved Alkibiades, Sokrates displayed no bravery. On the other hand, the other two respects in which Alkibiades is ‘saved’ – by a Sokrates willing to remain in great pain and to suffer in silence rather than reveal the secret about the thorn and then by the ultimate sacrifice of his life in the hope of exonerating his friend – involve genuine ethical courage and physical bravery. When the Elders sentence Alkibiades to death for overturning the herms, Sokrates argues that he too should die, not because he was the teacher who corrupted Alkibiades, but because he had saved Alkibiades in battle in the first place. He may well, on one level, conceive of such death as a welcome release from life (‘a thorny path to freedom – the other injury is milder [i.e. than life itself] – and that alone is healing for all’ (Kaiser 1963, 257). Here, Kaiser seems to be gesturing towards Xenophon’s and Nietzsche’s assumption that Socrates in fact wanted to die, though in each of the two scenarios for very different reasons.21 And when, with his dying breath, Sokrates utters the famous request for a cock to be sacrificed to Asklepios (Phaedo 118a), a youthful Plato, seen by some as the New Man to whom Sokrates merely acts as a John the Baptist, glosses these words in the play’s concluding speech: ‘so Sokrates essentially a warning of what could happen if people do not listen to the pacifist message. (Kaiser had used prefigurative images of future dystopias for comparable didactic purposes in the final part of his Gas-trilogy.) In such a reading, the work’s spirit is more one of hopeful warning than of resignation. 20 ‘Sokrates wird mir nicht ein Hassender’ (Kaiser 1980, 139). See note 15 for the context of this remark. 21 Cf. Xenophon’s Apology 6–8, Nietzsche’s Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (Aphorism 340: ‘Der sterbende Sokrates’) and Lane 2001, 37–38; see also Silk in this volume.

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parted from life as from a long sickness and – gives thanks to death, as to a doctor who delivers him from heavy suffering!’ (Kaiser 1963, 264). With the agonizing thorn now seeming to stand for the condition of life itself and not just the intellect, which could be one reason why Brecht thought of the play as an allegory, Schopenhauerian readings of the death scene have inevitably been attempted (on such a reception, see Schürer 1971b, 78–79). But Kaiser’s Sokrates explicitly stresses the other important reason for his selfsacrifice, one which has more bearing on the play’s title: i.e. in the explicit suggestion that he chooses to die in order to soften the Elders’ condemnation of Alkibiades. When the boys from the wrestling school come to rescue their new hero, Sokrates demurs, telling them to forget their plan because he will die ‘to save Alkibiades!’ The point has to be belaboured to make the motivation clear: SOME BOYS. Alkibiades is living with friends! SOKRATES. In imminent danger which I am averting from him forever! FOURTH BOY. You mean your death will soften the judges towards Alkibiades? (Kaiser 1963, 261)

In affirming this purpose, Sokrates is heralded as Athens’s saviour by the assembled youths, thus replacing their previous hero, Alkibiades, and, more importantly, now the embodiment of a new conception of spiritual heroism. Having admitted that he is giving up his life so that his friend may be spared execution, Sokrates explains that more is at stake than a simple act of personal friendship: ‘The question is not just one of judgement for today and tomorrow – what is being founded here is the lasting stability of all of you!’ (Kaiser 1963, 261). As in Plato’s versions, Kaiser’s protagonist ultimately goes stoically to his death, even asking for the thorn now to be removed so that he can walk around and allow the hemlock to circulate more rapidly through his system, not, as Nietzsche would have us believe, because he had realized that he was wrong, or, as Xenophon claimed, because he welcomed death in order to die while he was still in his prime and thus avoid the infirmities of old age, but for the sake of both Alkibiades and Athens. In the first major work by Kaiser to treat the themes of regeneration and the birth of the New Man to become a model precursor of a new age, From Morn to Midnight, the theme of spiritual conversion was presented in respect of one single individual, with little concern for the health of the state in general. But from The Burghers of Calais onwards, individual regeneration (‘Erneuerung’) prefigures what must happen in the collective, e.g. Calais, the factory communities of the Gas-trilogy, and now the Athens of Alkibiades Saved. The play’s genre – that of Massendrama – with its characteristic use of choreographed crowd scenes and choric effects underlines the fact that the emphasis is on the fate of the collective, not just the Sokrates-Alkibiades relationship. It was this social dimension, to some considerable extent

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emphasized by the fluctuating standing of Sokrates and Alkibiades in the wrestling schools and the status of heroes in the community at large, that must have attracted the Marxist Brecht to Kaiser’s play. Indeed, it could be argued that on first impression there is more of a social, state-oriented dimension to Kaiser’s play than there is to Brecht’s picture of Sokrates at war, but that is largely because Brecht the dialectician expects his audience to supply the socio-political dimension that remains implicit in the work. * Brecht’s Sokrates Wounded first appeared in print in the GDR almost a decade after it had been written, by which time it was re-contextualized to serve as a convenient piece of Cold War anti-Western propaganda. (Mother Courage and Life of Galileo were to suffer similar fates.) Published in Tales from the Calendar, it formed part of a cyclical scheme that paired each story with a poem, in this case ‘Fragen eines lesenden Arbeiters’ (‘Questions from a Worker who reads’). But whereas the poem has as its central point the claim that the great military victories (Caesar’s conquest of Gaul, Prussia’s gains in the Seven Years’ War) and the architectural achievements of history (the cities of Thebes, Babylon and Rome, the Great Wall of China) are all the results of the labours of the exploited working class, there are only passing allusions to such an idea in Sokrates Wounded: in the references to Sokrates not just as a philosopher-soldier but as a cobbler, and in the emphasis on the fact that he was only in the light infantry, for ‘neither his standing, a cobbler’s, nor his income, a philosopher’s, entitled him to enter the more distinguished and expensive branches of the service’, i.e. the heavy infantry or the cavalry (Brecht 1961, 83). The story, like the accompanying poem, certainly views history from below – literally so, from the perspective of an inferior foot-soldier rather than that of a general on horseback – but does so less to make a sweeping statement about the workforce behind the great projects of the past than to debunk the heroic view of war and to show that it is invariably in the interest of those for whom war represents profit to present such a picture. Sokrates Wounded divides into three main parts: a revised version of Kaiser’s battle-scene; a teasing series of exchanges between Sokrates and his sceptical (but this time by no means shrewish) wife Xanthippe which shows the less heroic truth about why he appears to have saved Athens as well as his friend; and a final encounter with the saved Alkibiades. The description of the battle at Delion that follows contains a number of rather clumsy attempts to stress the capitalist nature of war and Athens’s exploitation of its soldiers:

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The exchange of views between the man in front of [Sokrates] and the man behind on the profits made by the big armourers out of small shields was cut short by the order: ‘Fall out’. […] It was quite right to defend the city if it was attacked, for otherwise you would be exposed to gross inconveniences; but why was the city attacked? Because the shipowners, vineyard proprietors and slavetraders in Asia Minor had put a spoke in the wheel of the Persian shipowners, vineyard proprietors and slave-traders. A fine reason! […] Sokrates, with an overpowering sense that perhaps he had already waited too long, turned about awkwardly and took to his heels. […] Suddenly a fiendish pain shot through him. His left sole stung till he felt he simply could not bear it. Groaning, he sank to the ground, but leapt up again with another yell of pain. With frantic eyes he looked about him and realized what was up. He had landed in a field full of thorns. […] Sokrates could not get his sandal off. The thorn had pierced the thin leather sole and was deeply embedded in his flesh. How dared they supply soldiers, who were supposed to defend their country against the enemy, with such thin shoes? Each tug at the sandal was attended by searing pain. (Brecht 1961, 84-86)

Such narratorial steering, only occasionally mitigated by humorous touches, is hardly the subtlest feature of Brecht’s pacifist propaganda campaign in this work. Sokrates Wounded compares badly in this respect with Mother Courage. In contrast, the use of Sokrates himself as a disenchanted focalizer is a far more significant aspect of the story. For Sokrates, already a pacifist for some time, embarks on the battlefield experience in the dissident spirit of a Mother Courage or a Schweyk, both figures Brecht had recreated in recent anti-war plays. When before the battle ‘a captain reprimanded Sokrates for trying to sit on his shield’ (Brecht 1961, 84), it is difficult to decide whether this is a calculatedly anti-military gesture or the kind of naïve failure to conform that characterizes both Haek’s vejk and Brecht’s Schweyk (in Schweyk in the Second World War). Similarly, the ploy by which Brecht’s Sokrates deceives the enemy, though granted that it is more plausible than the way his agonized counterpart in Kaiser’s play flails about himself while wracked with pain and seemingly unwittingly creates the impression of being a whole army of Athenian infantry, sits ambiguously between looking like a deliberate tactic and merely a spontaneous reaction to his suffering: It was impossible for him to move. Anything was better than to feel that pain in the ball of his foot even once more. He did not know what to do and suddenly he started to bellow. To be precise it was like this: he heard himself bellowing. He heard his voice roaring from the mighty barrel of his thorax: ‘Over here, Third Battalion! Let them have it lads!’ […] Sokrates heard himself bellowing again and saying: ‘Not another step back, lads! Now we’ve got them where we want them, the sons of bitches! Crapolus, bring up the Sixth! Nullus, to the right! If anyone retreats, I’ll tear him to shreds! […] Don’t stand about like that gaping at me. You’d better run to and fro giving orders, so that over there they don’t realize how few we are.’ (Brecht 1961, 87, my emphasis)

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The caricaturing Roman names of the soldiers (shades of Frankie Howerd’s Up Pompeii!), the schoolboyish mock heroics of the battlefield and the way the italicized formulations make the whole sequence seem involuntary and more like a parody of disciplined warlike behaviour leave little doubt that Sokrates is not an astute soldier seizing command of the situation, but someone whose insubordinate responses suit Brecht’s distancing purposes. Functioning as an alienation device – which even the characters in Brecht’s works can do – Sokrates find it ‘unnatural […] instead of lying in bed, to be sitting on the bare ground in the middle of a field […], carrying at least ten pounds of iron about your person and a butcher’s knife in your hand’ (Brecht 1961, 85). He mocks his fellow soldiers’ ‘gibbering appeals to the gods’; ‘his scepticism in many spheres led to credulity in many others; he was against speculative thought and in favour of practical experience and so he did not believe in the gods, but he did believe in onions’: ‘Sokrates had primed himself as best he could for the bloody business by chewing onions which, in the soldiers’ view, induced valour’ (Brecht 1961, 83). He also mistrusts his superiors’ battle tactics: ‘plans were always made, particularly when your strength was inferior to the enemy’s’ (Brecht 1961, 84). As missiles begin to fly and the time comes for Sokrates to beat a personal retreat, it dawns on him that while he can readily jettison his weapons, ‘his breastplate and heavy greaves were far more dangerous […] you could not throw them away’ (Brecht 1961, 85). By now, the reader surely has a right to wonder why Brecht needed a story about Sokrates at Delion to make the point that war is not a ‘good thing’. Perhaps it is simply in order to reply in kind to Kaiser whose Alkibiades Wounded has managed to rescue images of meaningless suffering, selfcentredness and anti-heroic behaviour by gradually converting his Sokrates into a New Man. (This may explain why Brecht does not treat the death in his narrative, although he had once considered writing a play on the topic, as part of a cycle of works on Great Trials of History, a project that was never carried out.) Given that the story appears in a collection of Tales from the Calendar (i.e. popular almanac stories with a simple didactic thrust), the intention could be to suggest that over the centuries there have always been folk heroes who have opposed the machinations of their greedy and callous rulers – after all, Brecht also admired Haek’s vejk for his subversively earthy folk wisdom. A more specific advantage of using Sokrates is suggested by the way in which the figure is introduced in the first paragraph of the story: Sokrates, the midwife’s son, who was able in his dialogues to deliver his friends of well-proportioned thoughts so soundly and easily and with such hearty jests, thus providing them with children of their own, instead of, like other teachers,

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foisting bastards on them, was considered not only the cleverest of all Greeks, but also one of the bravest. (Brecht 1961, 83)

Three-quarters of this long sentence are taken up with the claim concerning Sokrates’ semblance of skill in acting as midwife to his pupils’ ideas. Brecht at the same time appears to be hinting at his own narrative’s comparable midwifery, both at plot-level and in its handling of the reader. Techniques such as the Gestus of showing, reflexivity (what Brecht termed ‘literarization’) and recapitulation are much in evidence in the narrative and are not unrelated to Socratic maieutic. However, in the final quarter of the sentence just quoted, the assessment reaches its surprise element: in the suggestion that such a wise man was also remembered for his bravery – which of course is not the same as stating that he was a brave man. In any case, as Kaiser had shown in Alkibiades Saved, there is bravery and bravery. The narrator of Brecht’s story thus has the task of questioning with his formulations the dangerous assumption that bravery is always an absolute. If he succeeds in this, we his readers will begin to enquire under what circumstances and to what purpose bravery is commendable and when it is not. We are initially alerted to the problem by the cautious way the idea of Sokrates’ valour is embroidered on: ‘His reputation for bravery strikes us as quite justified when we read [about] how coolly and unflinchingly he drained the hemlock which the authorities offered him in the end for services rendered to his fellow-citizens. Some of his admirers, however, have felt the need to speak of his bravery in the field as well’ (Brecht 1961, 83). The story’s most obvious implication is that stoic resoluteness in draining the cup of hemlock may not be the same as risking one’s life for one’s class enemies’ cause. What Brecht is trying to suggest is that a heroic gesture of this kind is not socially productive and that alleged bravery in laying down his life in this way may be as throwaway as the way in which Kattrin, Mother Courage’s daughter, takes pity on hedgehogs and endangered babies, but seldom seems to follow through on such acts of ‘emotional socialism’. Whereas Kaiser’s Sokrates gradually illustrates that there are other forms of heroism apart from that on the battlefield and that whereas military heroics remain too often affirmative of the political status quo, the other leads to a greater spiritualization of society, Brecht’s story even de-mythologizes any such grand gestures of opposition. If Kaiser replaces one form of assumed heroism (on the battlefield) with another (martyrdom for a spiritual cause), Brecht’s protagonist teaches the reader to be wary of all forms of idealization. If this is literary midwifery in the sense we were prepared for by the introduction to Brecht’s story, the narrator nevertheless hardly misses an opportunity to implant the seed of correct Marxist thinking about the material in the reader’s mind. This is particularly true of the ending, for when the story brings Alkibiades and Sokrates together again, Sokrates

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admits to running away at the first sight of a Persian. He retells his story in a sharper (in both literal and figurative sense) and more plausible version of Kaiser’s thorn incident. No longer shielded from the truth, even if Athens still is, Alkibiades immediately recognizes and praises what he takes to be new species of bravery: ‘I think you’re brave enough. I don’t know anybody who in this situation would have told the story you’ve just told’ (Brecht 1961, 99). Such a volte-face, with Alkibiades being immediately won over to his friend’s side (unlike Kaiser’s Alkibiades who persuaded the courtesan Phryne to try to seduce him because he was afraid of the man’s threat to his way of life), may be a little too ideologically contrived for modern postcommunist readers. For all Alkibiades’ approval means is that the representative of Athens’s collective values has given his approval to his friend’s altruism. But things are more multi-layered than such a simple reading allows for. On another level, it is consonant with Brecht’s view that the only task for serious literature was to depict interventionist thinking in action: that is, people changing reality (in the sense of Marx’s eleventh Feuerbach-Thesis), but also people attempting to change themselves as well as the value-systems of those around them; hence the new political steer put on the midwifery imagery implied in the description of the way in which Alkibiades is convinced by bravery. But if one reads Alkibiades’s response dialectically, he is no longer the story’s raisonneur and his unconditionally positive response to unexpected honesty has to be treated with suspicion. As so often in Brecht’s work, the reader has to transcend the simple antithetical contrast between two positions, here two conceptions of bravery both unacceptable in their different ways, in order to subject them to the litmus test of what either of them does to change the nature of capitalist society. In this respect, both forms of bravery can be read as suggesting, through their failure to bring about any substantive political change, that a third position is called for, one that can only be supplied by the reader. The story ends with an appropriately subtler exchange between Xanthippe and her husband as she washes his wound: ‘It could have been blood-poisoning.’ ‘If nothing worse’, said the philosopher. (Brecht 1961, 99)

By not pursuing the idea of what could be worse than blood-poisoning (or ‘more important than’, if Sokrates is being ironic), Brecht leaves the reader to decide just where the change that goes beyond a new kind of honesty and bravery might – and should – lead. To do so, the reader will have to recall that the solution that the story’s diagnosis of war as venture capitalism has implied is far more macroscopic than any mere regaining of a friend’s respect, speaking the truth or making a provocative, but overly ambiguous display of passive resistance. (Tellingly, the one single reference to Gandhi in all of Brecht’s writing is hardly flattering.) Just as Brecht’s Life of Galileo

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shows that society, in the guise of an exploiting feudal hierarchy, is more of a danger to the protagonist than the plague to which he has to expose himself while experimenting in Florence, so here the implication in the concluding exchange in Sokrates Wounded is that the real danger comes, not from an infection, but from the system represented by the military elements who leave their soldiers under-equipped, poorly led and forced to fight wars which have an essentially mercantile cause. Like his Galileo, Brecht’s Sokrates can only diagnose the predicament; he is unable to organize and lead an uprising or even formulate what the real solution must be. Nevertheless, for Brecht the Marxist, there could be no doubt that his Sokrates had to be pointing towards a Marxist revolution as the only answer. Indeed, the conclusion to be drawn from both of my German fictive Sokrateses is that they are made to adopt anachronistic and out-of-character positions and behave as their authors believed the real Socrates would have done, had he been transplanted to the first half of the twentieth century. The result is a Socrates drastically re-written for the modern age, in other words, one re-shaped to the point that many might find sacrilegious. For Kaiser and Brecht the modern predicament justified the approach, one which meant that Plato’s Socrates had to be radically recreated to make him a modern-day pacifist displaying the ideology of either an Expressionist New Man or a Marxist-in-waiting.

Refere nces Arendt, H. (1973), ‘Civil Disobedience’, in Ead. (ed.), Crises of the Republic, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 43–82. Brecht, B. (1961), ‘Sokrates Wounded’, Tales from the Calendar, tr. Y. Kapp and M. Hamburger, London: Methuen, 83–99. GBA = Brecht, B. (1988–2000), Große kommentierte Berliner und Frankfurter Ausgabe, ed. W. Hecht et al., Berlin-Weimar: Aufbau; Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp (Cited by volume number and page-reference). Goldhill, S. (2002), Who needs Greek? Contests in the cultural history of Hellenism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kaiser, G. (1971–2), Werke, ed. W. Huder, Frankfurt am Main and Vienna: Propyläen. Kaiser, G. (1963), ‘Alkibiades Saved: A Play in Three Parts’, tr. B. Quincy Morgan, in W. H. Sokel (ed.), Anthology of German Expressionist Drama: a prelude to the Absurd, New York: Anchor-Doubleday, 202–64. Kaiser, G. (1980), Briefe, ed. G. M. Valk, Frankfurt am Main and Vienna: Propyläen. Kenworthy, B. J. (1957), Georg Kaiser, Oxford: Blackwell. Knobloch, H-J. (1998), ‘Der verwundete Sokrates: ein Brechtscher Held’, in H-J. Knobloch and H. Koopmann (eds), Hundert Jahre Brecht – Brechts Jahrhundert?, Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 155–67.

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Krause, F. (2003), ‘Kaiser’s Der Gerettete Alkibiades: An Expressionist Revision of Nietzsche’s Die Geburt der Tragödie’, in R. Görner and D. Large (eds), Ecce Opus: Nietzsche-Revisionen im 20. Jahrhundert, Göttingen: Vanderhoeck and Ruprecht, 83– 110. Krause, F. (2006), ‘Von Kaiser zu Brecht: Drama und Prosa’, in R. Gillett and G. Weiss-Sussex (eds), Bertholt Brecht. A Reassessment of his Work and Legacy (in press). Kuxdorf, M. (1971), Die Suche nach dem Menschen im Drama Georg Kaisers, Berne and Frankfurt am Main: Lang. Lane, M. (2001), Plato’s Progeny: how Plato and Socrates still captivate the modern mind, London: Duckworth. Petersen, K. (1980), ‘Der gerettete Alkibiades’, in A. Arnold (ed.), Georg Kaiser (Literaturwissenschaft-Gesellschaftswissenschaft, 49), Stuttgart: Klett, 84–91. Schürer, E. (1971a), Georg Kaiser und Bertolt Brecht: über Leben und Werk (Schriften zur Literatur, 17), Frankfurt am Main: Athenäum. Schürer, E. (1971b), Georg Kaiser (Twayne’s World Authors Series, 196), New York: Twayne. Sokel, W. H. (1959), The Writer in Extremis: expressionism in twentieth-century German Literature, Stanford: Stanford University Press. Tyson, P. K. (1984), The Reception of Georg Kaiser (1915–45): texts and analysis, 2 vols, New York: Lang. Werner, J. (1998), Der Stückeschreiber und der Sohn der Hebamme: Brecht und das Erbe. Der Fall Sokrates (Sitzungsberichte der Sächsischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, Philologisch-historische Klasse, 136, 1), Leipzig: Hirzel.

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8 ‘Socrates knew . . .’: affect (Besetzung) in Britten’s Death in Venice * Christopher Wintle An Inquiry in 5 Acts I Among the unsorted papers in the Cambridge University Library is a (German-language) manuscript of just eight pages dating from 1939/40. Its author is Hans Keller, at the time of writing a 21-year-old émigré from Nazioccupied Austria.1 The text is a fantasy on reactions to the new-fangled invention, radio, and the speakers include heroes and villains ancient and modern.2 Of the reactions two in particular stand out (they appear here in translation). The first is by ‘Nietzsche’ – My God, how we will have to allow ourselves in future to be attacked incessantly by the far-too-many-people who pretend they’ve got morals or that they are idealists!

– and the second is a satire on the opening of Plato’s Phaedrus: Socrates: Phaedrus:

Socrates:

O my dear Phaedrus, whence do you come and whither do you go? From a radio talk, O Socrates, and I feel I must go for a walk outside the town. Why, O Mighty One, do you never speak on the radio? That manner of speaking, dear friend, is inappropriate for a man to whom the gods have not granted the wisdom of such speakers as

* The first version of this chapter was delivered to the King’s ‘Socrates’ conference in July 2002; a revised version was given as a John Bird Lecture to the Department of Music, Cardiff University, on 18 November 2003. 1 For a biographical sketch of Keller (1919–85), see Keller 1994, xiii–xx. Keller settled in London for the rest of his life. 2 Parts of the text, translated from the original German, appear in Keller 2003a, 10–11. The translation is by the editor and Irene Auerbach.

From Socrates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, ed. M.B. Trapp. Copyright © 2007 by M.B. Trapp. Published by Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Gower House, Croft Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 3HR, UK. 141

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Lysias, son of Kephalos, to name but one; because, for my sins, I am incapable of teaching if I am not taught by my pupil at the same time in some fertile exchange. That Wisdom, by which one might talk with a silent and, more than that, an invisible friend, has been denied to me by Zeus. Truly, you have spoken well, O Socrates; I hasten to pass on your words to the artistic director of the radio company, Dr. Blumenkohl.

The importance of meaningful dialogue for instruction was a familiar enough theme in Keller’s writing: after all, it was his musical father, Arnold Schoenberg, who had begun his Harmony manual with the words, ‘I have learnt [what to put in] this book from my pupils’;3 and, according to Hugh Wood, Keller engaged in his ‘basic activity’ when he taught at the Dartington Summer School ‘through informal Socratic dialogue’.4 Yet – and this ‘yet’ is crucial – in his twenty years at the BBC Keller not only impressed himself on countless ‘invisible friends’ through his meticulous broadcasts, but was also known as a moralist, ‘the musical conscience of British broadcasting’ no less.5 He was gripped by radio, certainly, but was he for or against? If this is a contradiction, then Nietzsche himself noted something similar in Plato: Although Plato did not lag behind the naïve cynicism of his master [Socrates] in the condemnation of tragedy and of art in general, nevertheless his creative gifts forced him to develop an art form [platonic dialogue] deeply akin to the existing art forms that he had repudiated.6

And in our turn we may resolve these contradictions by turning to an idea familiar from Freudian psychology, that of Besetzung. (James Strachey translates this as ‘cathexis’.) Besetzung indicates an investment of energy, or ‘quantity of affect’, in an idea or person, an investment arising from the instincts either directly or reactively. The precise meaning of the idea has been much debated;7 but for our purpose we may posit two stages in the establishment of an affect (or feeling): first, we allow our attention to be engaged by an object or ideal: secondly we value the affect positively or negatively, calling upon the agencies of, say, love or hate as we do so. In the first instance we are aware of the strength of the affect, its quantity; in the 3

Schoenberg 1978/1911, 1. Wood 1986, 397. 5 Garnham 2003. 6 Nietzsche 1956/1872, 87. The platonic dialogue was ‘a mixture of all the available styles and hovered between narrative, lyric, drama, between prose and poetry, once again breaking through the old law of stylistic unity.’ 7 See s.v. ‘cathexis’ in LaPlanche and Pontalis 1988, 62–5. 4

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second, we assess its worth, its quality. Plato’s Socrates invested a considerable quantity of affect into the question of drama; but he nevertheless attributed a negative quality to it. We shall return to this paradox centrally in the fifth and final part of this paper. But throughout I shall consider both the importance of the figure of Socrates and the ambivalent attitudes towards him held by many thinkers and artists since Plato. II The contradictions of Besetzung are at their keenest in Death in Venice, Benjamin Britten’s last opera of 1973. Here Socrates is a key figure in the moral argument. The work is a single action normally performed in two acts; and the libretto, by Myfanwy Piper, is fairly closely based on the celebrated (German-language) novella by Thomas Mann of 1912, itself cast in five parts (or ‘acts’).8 Mortality hung over the enterprise: Mann named his protagonist, the ennobled Gustav von Aschenbach, after Gustav Mahler who died in 1911; and Benjamin Britten, who kept a picture of Mahler over his desk,9 was taken seriously ill during the work’s composition and died in 1976, three years after its completion. At the first performance Aschenbach was memorably sung by Peter Pears, who had much to do with the shaping of the opera’s plain but charged style of recitative. Mann invokes Plato’s Phaedrus on two occasions: in part 4 and in the closing pages of part 5;10 both occasions find parallels in the opera, the first in Act I, Scene 7, and the second in Act II, Scene 16.11 These scenes are in fact crucial to our understanding of the work. But before looking at them, we need first to reconstruct Mann’s attitudes to the image of Socrates and its relation to music and drama. These attitudes in turn form a critique of Nietzsche’s epochmaking The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music (1872), his celebrated early work that significantly reclaims the ancient Greeks for modern Germans. So before reconstructing Mann, we must reconstruct Nietzsche. Following Schiller, Nietzsche famously held that the essence of an artwork lay in its quasi-musical affective tone. This is to posit quality of affect as its origin: Schiller confessed that, prior to composing, he experienced not a logically connected series of images, but a musical mood: “With me emotion is at the beginning without clear and definite ideas; those ideas do not arise until later

8

The opera was in fact translated back into German by Hans Keller working in collaboration with Claus Henneberg. The Britten-Pears Library shows that Britten owned 5 copies of the novella, one of which was in German. 9 Personal communication from Donald Mitchell, Britten’s ‘official biographer’. 10 Mann 1998/1912, 238–9 and 264–5. 11 Britten 1975, 131–3 and 250–2.

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on. A certain musical disposition of mind comes first, and after follows the poetical idea”.12

Therefore, continued Nietzsche, the lyrical poet … is, first and foremost, a Dionysiac artist, become wholly identified with the original Oneness, its pain and contradiction, and producing a replica of that Oneness as music, if music may legitimately be seen as a repetition of the world; however, this music becomes visible to him again, as in a dream similitude, through the Apollonian dream influence.13

Moreover, this making of music ‘visible’ – in other words, this journeying from Dionysus to Apollo – openly refuted the subjectivism of Arthur Schopenhauer on the grounds that Schopenhauer’s ‘striving individual’ is merely ‘bent on furthering his own egotistic purposes’:14 The artist had abrogated his subjectivity earlier, during the Dionysiac phase: the image which now reveals to him his oneness with the heart of the world is a dream scene showing forth vividly, together with original pain, the original delight of illusion. The ‘I’ thus sounds out of the depth of being; what recent writers on aesthetics speak of as ‘subjectivity’ is a mere figment.15

(The point, indeed, anticipates Jung’s grounding of an artist’s vision in a shared (‘collective’) unconscious; W.H. Auden likewise was to insist that as music was fundamentally joyous, there could be no genuinely tragic art.) It was through Greek drama especially that the murkily ecstatic, dream-like Dionysos opened ‘a path to the maternal womb of being’, revealing ‘music’ through ‘tragic myth’ and allowing us ‘to understand the delight felt at the annihilation of the individual’.16 To articulate this drama, though, required the clear ‘transcendent genius’ of Apollo.17 However, Nietzsche continued, a decline had set in with Euripides: Dionysos had already been driven from the tragic stage by a daemonic power speaking through Euripides. For in a certain sense Euripides was but a mask, while the divinity that spoke through him was neither Dionysos nor Apollo but a brand new daemon called Socrates. Thenceforward the real antagonism was to be between the Dionysiac spirit and the Socratic, and tragedy was to perish in the conflict.18

12

Nietzsche 1956/1872, 37. Ibid. 38. 14 Ibid. 41. 15 Ibid. 38. 16 Ibid. 101. 17 Ibid. 97. 18 Ibid. 77. 13

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For Socrates was the ‘great exemplar’ of ‘theoretical man’,19 one who held that ‘knowledge alone makes men virtuous’20 and that ‘whatever is to be good must be conscious’.21 Nietzsche wrote: We are offered a key to the mind of Socrates in that remarkable phenomenon known as his daimonion. In certain critical situations, when even his massive intellect faltered, he was able to regain his balance through the agency of a divine voice, which he heard only at such moments. The voice always spoke to dissuade. The instinctual wisdom of this anomalous character manifests itself from time to time as a purely inhibitory agent, ready to defy his rational judgment. Whereas in all truly productive men instinct is the strong, affirmative force and reason the dissuader and critic, in the case of Socrates the roles are reversed: instinct is the critic, consciousness the creator. Truly a monstrosity!22

Moreover, the repressive agency (like the Freudian super-ego) had its own unconscious force: It was entirely impossible for Socrates’s logical impetus to turn against itself. In its unrestrained onrush it exhibited an elemental power such as is commonly found only in men of violent instincts, where we view it with awed surprise. Whoever in reading Plato has experienced the divine directness and sureness of Socrates’s whole way of proceeding must have a sense of the gigantic driving wheel of logical Socratism, turning, as it were, behind Socrates, which we see through Socrates as through a shadow.23

Such quantity of affect, we might add, could banish pessimism through its quality, its divinely attuned optimism. For Nietzsche such optimism could transcend even death: the image of the dying Socrates – mortal man freed by knowledge and argument from the fear of death – is the emblem which, hanging above the portal of every science, reminds the adept that his mission is to make existence appear intelligible and thereby justified.24

At this time of writing, Nietzsche famously heralded the rebirth of tragedy through the music drama of Richard Wagner, drama that would supersede mere ‘Socratic’ opera.25 That is to say, Instinct would be reaffirmed, Reason put back in its place. And it is this scenario that forty years on forms the starting point for Mann’s novella. Aschenbach, a famous middle-aged German writer, is, when we first meet him, ‘Socratic man’. He follows a 19

Ibid. 92. Ibid. 79. 21 Ibid. 81. 22 Ibid. 84–5. 23 Ibid. 85. 24 Ibid. 93. 25 Ibid. 113. 20

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regimen of solitude and hard work; he is driven to achieve; he has the pride, guilt and capacity to suffer of a Saint Sebastian; he triumphs over a weak constitution; and he reveals his all encompassing wisdom in his writings: a prose epic on Frederick of Prussia; a Study of Abjection; an enquiry into Intellect and Art; and a novel synthesizing all human destinies, the exotically entitled Maya. But his wife is dead, his only child – a daughter – married. He knows he has lived too long in the shadow of his father, a preacher: the ‘seed-corn’ of his growth has been ground up by ‘excessive analysis’. Now is the time, surely, to admit the ‘more sensuous blood’ of his mother, the daughter – significantly – of a musician. Aschenbach, that is to say, looks forward to his own rebirth from the spirit of music. Things, however, do not quite work out this way. Aschenbach travels to Venice but is destroyed by the inner force his trip unleashes, a kind of ‘return of the repressed’. This takes the form of a relentless erotic desire for a mere boy whom he pursues fruitlessly and fatally through the city. How much, though, is he complicit in his own misfortune? How much does he ever expect to break his Socratic father’s Oedipal grip? Although he travels ‘south’ to a city irresistible to musicians and writers, he does so on the advice of a stranger; this stranger proves to be the first appearance in the book of ‘Hermes’, the psychopomp figure who, in many guises, guides Aschenbach’s soul to its end. Once in his hotel on the Lido, Aschenbach secretly bonds with a Polish family who are also guests there. There is a mother, three daughters, their governess – and a son, Tadjio. There is, however, no father. But rather than adopt a paternal attitude himself, Aschenbach identifies with the son. Tadjio is solitary and aristocratic, pampered and egregiously beautiful, with a ‘head of Eros’26 that recalls ‘Greek sculpture of the noblest period’;27 but he – like Aschenbach – also seems doomed: Tadzio’s teeth were not as attractive as they might have been: rather jagged and pale, lacking the lustre of health and having that peculiar brittle transparency which is sometimes found in the case of anaemia. “He’s very delicate, he’s sickly,” thought Aschenbach, “he’ll probably not live to grow old.” And he made no attempt to explain to himself a certain feeling of satisfaction or relief that accompanied this thought.28

Satisfaction or no, Aschenbach allows the young man to captivate him. It is, as Ernest Jones might have said, an acting-out of a reversal-of-generations phantasy: Tadjio leads, Aschenbach follows.29 Indeed, Aschenbach pursues Tadjio obsessively through a city increasingly infected by Asiatic cholera – a

26

Mann 1998/1912, 223. Ibid. 219. 28 Ibid. 228. 29 Jones 1948. For an outstanding account of paedophilia in the novella, see Zinkin 1970. 27

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psychologically indicative plague not unlike that which gripped Sophocles’s Thebes. In a pivotal nightmare sequence, he is overwhelmed by Dionysos: the scene of the events was his own soul, and they irrupted into it from outside, violently defeating his resistance – a profound, intellectual resistance – as they passed through him, and leaving his whole being, the culture of a lifetime, devastated and destroyed.30

‘Devastated and destroyed’ by Dionysos? The words astonish us. For this is no longer Nietzsche’s liberating, will-full god of the ‘heart-shaking power of tone, the uniform stream of melody, the incomparable resources of harmony’,31 the god that was pushed aside by Socrates and whose return Nietzsche hailed;32 rather it is a ‘stranger-god’, another ‘monstrosity’, who together with the maenads embroils Aschenbach in a ‘lascivious delirium of annihilation’. From this nightmare he never recovers. He allows the hotel barber to act as his Own Worst Enemy by restoring – grotesquely – his youthful image with ‘cosmetics’. And as the Polish family prepare to depart, he goes to the Lido to watch Tadjio for the last time. Alone and out on the water, the boy appears to Aschenbach as a lovely, smiling soul-summoner. ‘As so often’, writes Mann, Aschenbach ‘set out to follow him’.33 Only now he follows Tadjio to the death that he – or Fate – may always have sought. Thus Plato, Nietzsche and Mann each invest a huge quantity of affect into these interlinked images of Socrates, Apollo, and Dionysos. But the quality each attributes to them could hardly be more different. For Plato, Socrates is the (Apollonian) spirit that denies; for Nietzsche, Dionysos is the spirit that affirms by liberating us from Socrates; and for Mann, Apollo and Dionysos taken separately are the spirits that destroy. What, though, of Mann and Socrates? III In both book and opera, the progress from the first to the second of our Socratic instances marks Aschenbach’s journey from illusion to reality. And between the two the affective tone is markedly different. This is clear from the first instance, from part 4 of the novella and Act I, Scene 7 of the opera. Aschenbach’s attraction to Tadjio is in its infancy. On the Lido, he watches the boy at play. As he does so, he drifts into fantasy: he, Aschenbach, is Socrates, and Tadjio his Phaedrus. He recalls the famous platonic argument: of the Forms, Beauty alone may be perceived directly, whereas ‘Reason, Virtue and Truth’ (in Plato, ‘Justice, Self-control and Knowledge’) are 30

Mann 1998/1912, 259. Nietzsche 1956/1872, 27. 32 Ibid.; cf. 76 and 101–2. 33 Mann 1998/1912, 267. 31

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known only indirectly through their representations.34 Confronted with a ‘likeness of eternal Beauty’, the lover experiences a ‘tremor of fear’, for among the ‘profane and base’, mortal Beauty excites mere lust rather than due reverence. But if the lover is true, then Beauty is the path to the spirit, a means and not an end. Now, in Plato the contempt with which Socrates greets the mortal who cannot follow him reveals an astonishing quantity of affect: instead of gazing at [Beauty] reverently, [such a mortal] surrenders to pleasure and sets out in the manner of a four-footed beast, eager to make babies; and wallowing in vice, he goes after unnatural pleasure too, without a trace of fear or shame.35

By contrast, Plato continues, a recent initiate … who has seen much in heaven – when he sees a godlike face or bodily form that has captured Beauty well … gazes at him with the reverence due a god, and if he weren’t afraid people would think him completely mad, he’d even sacrifice to his boy as if he were the image of a god.36

When Mann recounts this as part of Aschenbach’s fantasy, he acknowledges the repressed eroticism by allowing his writer a covertly permissive afterthought: And then [Socrates] uttered the subtlest thing of all, that sly wooer: he who loves, he said, is more divine than the beloved, because the god is in the former, but not in the latter – this the tenderest perhaps and the most mocking thought ever formulated, a thought alive with all the mischievousness and most secret voluptuousness of the heart.37

That is to say, by virtue of being the lover, Aschenbach narcissistically positions himself closer to the Divine than Tadjio. It is an afterthought that, far from excluding mischief and voluptuousness, actually ushers them in. For Mann’s Aschenbach, Socrates is the mask of a seducer. Let us now turn to the opera. For their part, Britten and Piper create yet another scenario. Sitting on the Lido, Aschenbach no longer engages in an internal dialogue. Rather, his thoughts are externalised and sung by a mixed chorus. The function of the chorus is to invest the Lido with an antique numinosity. Once again they invoke Plato’s Phaedrus: only now, Apollo himself is also in attendance. 34

Ibid. 238. See also Plato, Phaedrus 245c–257b, e.g. in Cooper 1997, 524–33; Cooper (506) remarks that the dialogue is unique in Plato for taking place in private. 35 Phaedr. 250e. 36 Phaedr. 251a. 37 Mann 1998/1912, 239.

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Piper’s libretto compresses the platonic wisdom into a disarmingly decorous sestina of alternating seven and eight-syllable lines rhymed in pairs: Phaedrus learned what Beauty is From Socrates beneath the tree: Beauty is the only form Of spirit that our eyes can see[,] So brings to the outcast soul Reflections of Divinity. (Phaedrus learned what Beauty is.)

In the musical setting (Fig. 8.1), the text is punctuated by statuesque pauses at the ends of the first, second, fourth and sixth lines; and the chorus sings slowly, quietly, evenly and ‘without expression’. On the other hand, the vision of the youth as ‘mirror and sculptured image of intellectual beauty’38 is conveyed concurrently by a dance. This is the ‘formal solo’ for Tadjio in slow duple time. (The formality, indeed, underlines Britten’s preference for classical ballet, which, he once remarked . . . ‘interests me far more than psychological ballets’.) 39 This solo will lead on to a choreographed Pentathlon from which Tadjio emerges, predictably, as victor ludorum. But the apparent classicism of Britten’s dance is no mere exercise in the Hellenism of a Gabriel Fauré or the faux-naivety of an Erik Satie, as evinced in his cantata Socrate (1918): for there are two other areas that enrich the passage’s affective tone. The first is the exotic instrumentation. Exoticism is a topic that in large part came out of Britten’s well-known visits to Japan and Bali. It is familiar from such earlier works as The Prince of the Pagodas (1956), the three Church Parables (1964–68) and the opera Owen Wingrave (1970); it also has significant precedents in the music of Mahler and Puccini.40 The function of the Orient in this case is to provoke the same awe and terror that Pagan Antiquity inspired in Nietzsche and Mann. Venice itself, after all, stands at a juncture of East and West, and later in the story is gripped by a cholera that comes from the primitive island jungles of Asia (like Dionysos himself, in fact). In popular imagination, Orientals are beautiful, lithe and self-disciplined; they are also uncanny and inscrutable; and they can exude a lethal menace. Many of these images are condensed into Tadjio’s dance: the beautiful, supple movements of the eternally silent boy are lent an exotic sublimity by the slow, clear resonance of the tam-tam. 38

Mann 1998/1912, 237. Benjamin Britten in conversation with Joseph Cooper, BBC General Overseas Service broadcast, 7 July 1957. Included as ‘The composer speaks’ in Kildea 2003, 155. The hybrid of classical ballet and psychological drama, of course, straddles the two poles of twentieth century music described by Theodor Adorno. 40 See especially Cooke 1998. 39

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This tam-tam shares a rhythm with a single and sustained harmony heard in the harp and double basses, the latter divided, remarkably, in three: the harmony distils the uncanny Locrian mode associated throughout the opera with Tadjio; the timbre invokes an oriental instrument of a kind; and the suspension of harmonic rhythm by the use of one sustained chord suggests that Tadjio moves outside time even as he dances in it. The exoticism, moreover, is enhanced by the repetitive patterns in the thickened tom-tom and cello lines that accompany his movements. Platonic Beauty thus assumes an exotic tone. Socrates speaks with the voice of an Eastern Sage. The second affective area lies in the harmony and counterpoint. The notes of the sustained chord (A, C# and D, F# and G# in Figure 1) may form a quasi-oriental improvisation figure; but, played backwards, they are also the source for the key phrase of the culminating aria of the scene. ‘Then Eros is in the Word’ (Fig. 8.2) marks Aschenbach’s forceful determination to sublimate the eroticism Tadjio inspires into his writing. ‘Sublimation’, of course, is not just a Nietzschean concept, but also a platonic one. As Socrates puts it in the Diotima speech from Plato’s Symposium, Aschenbach’s soul has been impregnated with Love and through reproduction yearns for wisdom and immortality. Over the span of the beach scene, therefore, the five notes planted at the beginning bear fruit at its end. Let us return to the dance (Fig. 8.1). As Tadjio moves, the chorus sings in glassy two-part counterpoint: the men answer the women in loose canon-byinversion, with inversion signalling the earthly ‘Reflections of Divinity’. Thematically, the piece is cast as a classically balanced ‘ternary form’ (A – B – A1). But tonally, the music has to pass through a spectrum of keys before reaching its home key of A major – for Britten, a bright, sharp-side tonality associated with moral purpose. In fact, the spectrum of keys includes at least one triad built on each of the twelve notes of the chromatic scale; the triad may be major, minor, or both. For line 1 of the choral text, we hear B and D major; in line 2, Bb and Eb major; in lines 3 and 4, Gb and Bb major (again), followed by G major and E minor; in line 5, G# and C# major; in line 6, F major, C minor and C major; and finally in the repeat of line 1, A major, C major and A minor. What this amounts to is a synthesis of the poles of modern music: on the one hand, music based on the triad, ‘the chord of nature’, on the other hand, music based on the ‘emancipated chromatic scale’, the foundation of ‘atonal’ music. The full spectrum of keys, that is to say, is a divine summation of Western music; Socrates exerts a consummate Apollonian control. The strategy, though, is not new. Rather it recalls the poignant third song of Britten’s Sechs Hölderlin-Fragmente (1958). The text is again a platonic reflection on Beauty, though now shared between the interrogator (speaking for us) and Socrates. The youth is Alcibiades:

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[Interrogator] Why, holy Socrates, do you hold this youth In such reverence? Do you know nothing of greater worth? Why do you gaze at him with love, Turning your eye on him as if on the gods? [Socrates] He who has thought most deeply Loves what is most alive; He who has observed the world, Understands great virtue; And in the end Sages will often bow before Beauty.41

The music is in a varied strophic form (Fig. 8.3). In the first verse, the fragmentary questioning is set against a bel canto line in the piano. This line represents the attentive Socrates. In the second verse, Socrates now sings the line against twelve triads in the piano. These are played quietly. Once again, each triad is raised on a different degree of the chromatic scale, and once again the overall key of D major is on the sharp side. The hieratic chords remind us once again how in the Symposium Alcibiades calls Socrates a satyr, a Marsyas who challenged no less a figure than Apollo himself. In this scene from Act I, then, Britten has not deconstructed Socrates as did Nietzsche and Mann. On the contrary, his Socrates, however exotic, is at one with Apollo, equipped with the same commanding musical skills. But what of the other scene, from late in Act II? IV In fact, the final soliloquy of Aschenbach’s caused its creators some problems. So much is clear from the documentary evidence, which shows that once rehearsals began several changes were made. The changes were marked into three copies of the piano score used for rehearsal: those of Pears, of Britten and of Britten’s assistant, Rosamunde Strode. Strode, in fact, had two differently marked sets. Britten’s copy was only lightly amended whereas Pears’s was heavily marked with performance memos. Strode’s annotations, on the other hand, were predictably meticulous. To learn about the changes and their shifting affects, we need to follow all the sources together.42 41

The translation is by Irene Auerbach and the author. When Thomas Mann first saw the read Tadjio, he thought of these lines of Hölderlin’s. 42 I am grateful to Dr. Nicholas Clark and the staff of the Britten-Pears Library for their help with these scores (or ‘dye-lines’), and to Dr. Donald Mitchell and the Britten-Pears estate for granting permission to reprint these pages.

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This time, the scene in the opera is close to that in the book. Much has happened since the Lido. After his culminating aria in Act I, ‘Then Eros is in the word’, an aria charged with frenzy and embodying the highest moral worth, Aschenbach has collapsed. His epiphany could not hold. After a moral hiccup (not unlike Billy Budd’s stammer in Britten’s opera of that name) he confesses his earthly love for Tadjio. He is not, after all, an initiate before the gods, merely the hedonistic, four-legged beast so reviled by Plato’s Socrates. Now, devastated by his Dionysiac dream, Aschenbach finds himself alone in a Venetian square surrounded by dilapidated houses. The city is in the grip of plague; ‘warm gusts of wind’ blow ‘the stench of carbolic across to him.’ Pears, indeed, wrote the relevant passage from Mann into his score: There he sat, the master … his eyelids were closed, there was only a swift, sidelong glint of the eyeballs now and again, something between a question and a leer; while the rouged and flabby mouth uttered single words of the sentences shaped in his disordered brain by the fantastic logic that governs our dreams.43

There then follows an internalised platonic dialogue – if such it is, for only Socrates now speaks. This ‘debate’ is in fact a perverse projection of Aschenbach’s self-contempt and concludes with a bitter denial of the moral efficacy of platonic Beauty. Mann writes: I tell you [Phaedrus], [the abyss] is where [form and Beauty] lead[s] us writers; for we are not capable of self-exaltation, we are merely capable of selfdebauchery.44

In the opera the first problem was to establish the ‘platonic dialogue’. The solution lay in recitative-and-aria. In the recitative, Socrates is directly invoked and in the aria falling and rising lines again suggest a semblance of ‘dialogue’, even though the dialogue is one-sided. However, this still left the problem of affect. The rehearsal scores show that there were three attempts at the recitative (Fig. 8.4 shows a copy of Rosamunde Strode’s). This passage begins, ‘O Aschenbach, famous as a master’, against which Pears wrote in his copy, ‘nasal’.45 Aschenbach falters and breaks off with his ironic ‘self-discipline’. He then continues: ‘Shameful? Is love shameful? Socrates taught us … Socrates …’. But his love for Tadjio is not platonic; and after a break and a drop to a low register for

43

Cf. Mann 1998/1912, 264. Ibid. 265. 45 Pears then transferred the original instruction ‘proudly’ back to the comparable passage in the Prologue, where it replaced the original ‘lively’. The marked difference between first and last statements helped Pears to show the affective evolution of Aschenbach from self-love to self-contempt in a style of singing that Keller described as durchgesungen. 44

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‘Socrates taught us’ this attempt ends. Both the guilt and the faltering appeal to the ‘father’ are Piper’s: they are not Mann’s and were well abandoned. In the rehearsal score, the second attempt was written above the first. This time, Aschenbach is gripped by panic: ‘O help me, help me! What did you say, Socrates?’ he cries, lingering long over the second ‘help’, his free singing all the more petulant for being unsupported. As the quantity of affect drains, so does the expression change. His thoughts turn to ‘Socrates’. Two bars later he repeats the name, as a keyword for the following aria. But the effect of all this may have seemed ‘over the top’. It too was well abandoned. In the third version, the strategy is markedly different (Fig. 8.5). The single leaf of manuscript appended to Strode’s copy is neat enough to suggest that Britten and Piper entirely re-thought the passage after rehearsal.46 The charged, isolated, dynamically rising phrases, ‘Selfdiscipline … your strength …’ now lead on to the deflating ‘all folly … all pretence’. In turn, this moment of recognition (anagnôrisis) triggers a broad, unsupported burst of emotion that strikingly borrows a whole key phrase from the following aria: ‘O perilous, perilous sweetness[,] the path that poets crave’. Such a climax was absent from the first version, and only incipient in the second. Some might argue that this key phrase epitomizes the entire work and even the personal situation of a homosexual composer famously attracted to youth. (In fact, the word ‘path’ is wrongly transliterated: the published score corrects this to ‘wisdom’.) After the line has fallen, the recitative attenuates its energy with the rueful words, ‘Socrates knew, Socrates told us’. These are new. They are set apart by no less than three statuesque fermatas (pauses); they are delivered in hushed tones against a halo of string harmonics; and they assume an added gravitas since, according to Pears’s stage-notes, the singer should sit to utter them. As before in Act One, Socrates is invoked for his Delphic wisdom. When, therefore, the aria begins, the restrained, airborne diction is immediately recognizable as ‘Hellenic’. It is as if Aschenbach sings with a voice ‘not his’, with the harp and piano in the accompaniment suggesting a lyre. The aria is cast in three loosely similar stanzas with a concluding cadenza: Does beauty lead to wisdom, Phaedrus? Yes, but through the senses. Can poets take* this way then For senses lead to passion, Phaedrus[,] Passion leads to knowledge[,] Knowledge to forgiveness[,] To* compassion with the abyss[?] 46

[*trust]

[*and]

In Fig. 8.4 signs of this version are already marked in the top system with the new rhythm and rising dynamic for ‘self-discipline’ and the removal of a bar.

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Should we then reject it, Phaedrus, The* wisdom poets crave, [*this] Seeking only form and pure detachment[,] Simplicity and discipline? But this is beauty, Phaedrus, Discovered through the senses[,] And senses lead to passion, Phaedrus[,] And passion to the abyss*.

[*pit]

And now, Phaedrus, I will go. But you stay here[,] And when your eyes no longer see me, Then you go too. [Note Earlier, or alternative, words are shown in square brackets; in every case the replacement word has been carried through to the vocal score, with the odd exception of ‘this’, a very plausible alternative to the long-held ‘the’. The loose punctuation is as published.]

We can see how quickly ‘dialogue’ cedes to ‘monologue’ and how suffocating is the six-fold invocation of ‘Phaedrus’. Whereas the first two stanzas pose rhetorical questions, the third recasts the first as a statement and the cadenza acts decisively. It is an ordered confusion, as in Mann. Now, although this aria condenses the book’s thought, the musical toneof-utterance is hardly consistent with the leering, glinting eyeballs Mann attributes to Aschenbach. Indeed, the diabolical tritone (A-D#) has now gone from the recitative, and the music has relaxed from E major to an initially unclouded C major in a Lied-style thirds-change. The pivotal harmony of the aria is the C major triad with an added sixth: this symbolizes the eternity Britten had for so long admired at the end of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. Here it becomes the ‘Socrates chord’. The limpid, measured, softly expressive opening phrase (‘Does beauty lead to wisdom Phaedrus?’) now seems to transfigure the identical contour just heard in the recitative with ‘O perilous, perilous sweetness’. That is to say, the serenity of the aria answers the previous turbulence. At the same time, the knotted relation of E and Eb in both line and harmony creates a C major-minor context that offers Aschenbach no escape. Yet the end of the aria is arresting (Fig. 8.6). In the cadenza, the first note E is preceded by a climb and is held with a long crescendo. The following contour is marked ‘warm’: the line is extended before falling through an octave and pausing on a fermata. Initially all this seems puzzling: why should an ancient so apparently unruffled as this Socrates throw in his hand so ruthlessly? Why should he abandon Aschenbach, just as Apollo had done a little earlier? More still, why should he encourage Aschenbach, now his Phaedrus, to depart too – in other words, to take his own life? In the case of

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Mann’s gnarled Socrates, there was no puzzle: but here the advice seems out of kilter with the Apollonian tone-of-utterance. However, if we listen further, we find the puzzle solved. For when Aschenbach’s cadenza yields to the orchestral interlude, the underlying Socratic violence comes to the fore: the initially broad and strong Venetian brass music is progressively stripped of its serenity to culminate in a seering, C minor perversion of the ‘beautiful view’ theme (this moment of Puccini comes in the penultimate bar of Fig. 8.6). Through the working of the ‘pathetic fallacy’, the storm in Venice represents the self-destructive rage in Aschenbach: the latent anger of the aria has now become fully manifest. The quantity of affect, and its quality of disgust, is overwhelming. Britten’s Socrates seems wholly at one with Plato’s. V The question, ‘what is the moral of Death in Venice?’ is often asked but rarely answered. Certainly it is hard to fathom from internal evidence alone, as we have seen. Yet if Nietzsche placed feeling before form, in this case we may place ‘aesthetic stance’ before either. For the secret of the moral lies outside ‘the work itself’. Now, as a writer himself, Thomas Mann succeeds where Aschenbach tries but fails: of the two, only Mann can sublimate Eros into the word, and only Mann can harness the Dionysiac energies. Indeed, Mann needed to sacrifice Aschenbach to clarify his stance: namely that, like Nietzsche, he had once surrendered wholeheartedly to the Dionysiac charm and passion of Richard Wagner, but had since questioned the ‘nobility, purity and wholesomeness of his influence’. As he wrote in Venice in 1911, he sought a new classicism, ‘something that does not seek its greatness in the monumentally Baroque, nor its beauty in the sweep of emotion’.47 Instead he would write a novella. Short Death in Venice may be, but its intensity is huge: the work plumbs the abyss as never before, debates ‘intellect and art’, pulls together the strands of human destiny past and present, and unfolds a tiny epic on a Prussian artist: such a tightly-knit project was a worthy riposte to the Gesamtkunstwerk. If the story was set to music then so much the better: for Mann used quasi-musical statement and development just as did Wagner. And if the composer was Benjamin Britten, then best of all: for at an early age Britten too had been deeply impressed by Die Meistersinger, had also absorbed Wagner’s methods, had likewise countered Wagner with an Italianate neo-classicism of his own, was also a moralist, and would have identified even more closely with the predicament

47

From Thomas Mann’s celebrated account of his ambivalent attitude to Wagner, written in the Hotel des Bains (on the Lido) in December 1911. See also Mann 1985.

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of Aschenbach. He had also been Mann’s ideal choice for Doktor Faustus (1943–47).48 We thus return to our opening paradox: affective strength may be at odds with the evaluation of its object. Quite simply, from an aesthetic point of viewthe conflicting images of Socrates are the masks that allow Wagner to be both celebrated and denied. Such is the modern wisdom behind the project of Death in Venice.

Refere nces Britten, B. (1963/1958), Sechs Hölderlin-Fragmente, Op. 61, voice and piano, London: Boosey & Hawkes. Britten, B. (1975/1973), Death in Venice, Op. 88, piano reduction by David Matthews, London: Faber Music. Cooke, M. (1998), Britten and the Far East: Asian Influences in the Music of Benjamin Britten, Woodbridge: Boydell Press. Cooper, J.M. (ed.) (1997), Plato. Complete Works, Indianapolis: Hackett. Garnham, A.M. (2003), Hans Keller and the BBC: The Musical Conscience of British Broadcasting, 1959–79, London: Ashgate. Jones, E. (1948), ‘The phantasy of the reversal of generations’, in Papers in Psychoanalysis, ed. 5, London: Baillière, Tindall and Cox (repr. London: Maresfield, 1977), 407–12. Keller, H. (1994), Essays on Music, ed. C. Wintle, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Keller, H. (2003a), Music and Psychology: From Vienna to London, ed. C. Wintle, London: Plumbago. Kildea, P. (ed.) (2003), Britten on Music, Oxford: Oxford University Press. LaPlanche, J. and Pontalis, J.B. (eds.) (1988), The Language of Psycholanalysis, London: Karnac Books. Mann, T. (1985), Pro and Contra Wagner, London: Faber. Mann, T. (1998), Death in Venice and Other Stories, tr. David Luke, London: Vintage Classics (original ed. 1912). Nietzsche, F. (1956), The Birth of Tragedy, tr. Frances Golffing, New York: Doubleday Anchor Books (original ed. 1872). Palmer, C. (1984) ‘Towards a Genealogy of Death in Venice’, in Id. (ed.), The Britten Companion, London: Faber, 250–67.

48

Cf. Palmer 1984, 267. Palmer explains how ‘in an unpublished letter to Britten dated 14 September 1970 (mainly concerned with the Mann family’s positive response to Britten’s desire to compose Death in Venice) Thomas Mann’s son Golo wrote, “My father … used to say that, if ever it came to some musical illustration of his novel Doktor Faustus, you would be the composer to do it”’.

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Plato (1997), ‘Phaedrus’, in John M. Cooper (ed.), Plato. Complete Works, Indiana: Hackett. Schoenberg, A. (1978), Theory of Harmony, tr. Roy E. Carter, London: Faber and Faber (original ed. 1911). Wood, H. (1986), ‘Hans Keller: a memoir’, in ‘Hans Keller (1919–1985): a memorial symposium’, Music Analysis 5.2/3, 397. Zinkin, L. (1970), ‘Death in Venice: a Jungian view’, Journal of Analytical Psychology 22. 4: 354–65.

The musical examples for this chapter have been typeset by Dr Julian Littlewood of Headington dtp Services, Oxford. The extract from the dyelin (rehearsal) score for Benjamin Britten’s Death in Venice, Op. 88, has been reproduced by kind permission of the Britten-Pears Library, The Red House, Aldeburgh, Suffolk; other extracts from the published scores of Death in Venice are reproduced by kind permision of the publishers, Faber Music Litd (© 1973); the extract from the first of Britten’s Sechs Hoelderlin Fragmente, Op. 61, is reproduced by kind permission of Boosey and Hawkes, Music Publishers Ltd. (© 1963).

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Fig. 8.1 Benjamin Britten, Death in Venice (1973), Act I, Scene 7, orchestral score: Tadjio’s choral dance.

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Fig. 8.1 (continued) Benjamin Britten, Death in Venice (1973), Act I, Scene 7, orchestral score: Tadjio’s choral dance.

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Fig. 8.2 Benjamin Britten, Death in Venice (1973), Act I, Scene 7, the climax of Aschenbach’s aria: ‘then Eros is in the Word’.

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Fig. 8.3 Benjamin Britten, Sechs Hölderlin-Fragmente (1958), song no. 3, ‘Sokrates und Alcibiades’.

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Fig. 8.4 Benjamin Britten, Death in Venice (1973): piano rehearsal score. Aschenbach’s ‘Socrates’ recitative and aria, versions 1 and 2 (reproduced by kind permission of the Britten-Pears library).

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Fig. 8.4 (continued) Benjamin Britten, Death in Venice (1973): piano rehearsal score. Aschenbach’s ‘Socrates’ recitative and aria, versions 1 and 2 (reproduced by kind permission of the Britten-Pears library).

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Fig. 8.5 Benjamin Britten, Death in Venice (1973): piano rehearsal score. Aschenbach’s ‘Socrates’ recitative and aria, version 3 (reproduced by kind permission of the Britten-Pears library).

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Fig. 8.6 Benjamin Britten, Death in Venice (1973) vocal score. Aschenbach’s ‘Socrates’ recitative and aria: cadenza and subsequent interlude.

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Fig. 8.6 (continued) Benjamin Britten, Death in Venice (1973) vocal score. Aschenbach’s ‘Socrates’ recitative and aria: cadenza and subsequent interlude.

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9 Effacing Socratic irony: philosophy and technê in John Stuart Mill’s translation of the Protagoras * Alexandra Lianeri A protest by subjective lucidity, irony is valuable only in so far as it supersedes subjectivity. Socratic irony, at any rate. It intervenes in a situation. Henri Lefebvre, Introduction to Modernity The ironic Socrates famously maintained that he knew nothing, and in this way he interrogated the methods and premises of conventional knowledge. Yet did this proclamation of ignorance also involve a political gesture? Was the object of irony not merely knowledge, but also the social and historical setting that produced the conditions of knowing? In other words, did Socratic irony intervene in a situation? And what was the mode of this intervention? This essay addresses these questions through a discussion of John Stuart Mill’s translation of the Protagoras. It approaches this translation as paradigmatic of modern interpretations of the dialogue, both in terms of Mill’s treatment of irony and in terms of defining the political nature of Socrates’ teaching. Yet it also suggests that, unlike a series of other translations that followed it, this early rendering enables a radical interpretation of the Protagoras, which deploys irony to redefine the political in both the ancient and the modern tradition. While seeking to reconstruct Socrates’ teaching from the perspective of its reception, this work does not consider the latter as straightforwardly *

I would like to thank Bob Fowler, Lorna Hardwick, Miriam Leonard, Charles Martindale and Michael Trapp for invaluable comments and criticisms. I am especially grateful to Yorgos Avgoustis for many illuminating discussions and to Howard Caygill for an inspiring reading of the Meno and for the suggestion of exploring this topic in terms of the relationship between persuasion and power, and the role of technê in this.

From Socrates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, ed. M.B. Trapp. Copyright © 2007 by M.B. Trapp. Published by Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Gower House, Croft Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 3HR, UK. 167

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articulating Socratic ideas. It rather suggests that Mill both engaged with and reformulated Socrates’ political heritage. On the one hand, his interpretation of Socratic dialectics questioned authority and stressed the interrelation of critical debate, persuasion and democracy. On the other hand, his treatment of irony in the Protagoras relegated to the background Socrates’ dissenting voice. By understating the text’s ironic pronouncements Mill mistook the Socratic self-critique as a mere critique against dogmatism. He hailed the philosophical enterprise in Kantian terms as man’s emergence from his selfimposed immaturity and subjection. But he stopped before reaching the Socratic conclusion that, in the realm of the political, philosophy’s fulfilment passes through – or perhaps coincides with – philosophy’s failure. In the Protagoras, Socrates points to the limits of debate and considers (without, however, affirming) the transformation of philosophy through the mediation of technê. Mill’s translation both acknowledges and negates these limits, thus attesting the complexity and ambiguity of the Socratic tradition. Tra nsl ati o n and cl assic al re cep tio n s t udies This discussion follows a route that is not commonly taken by classical studies and is bound to provoke suspicion as to its methodological productiveness and value. It is therefore appropriate to explain, at the outset, how the following analysis relates to current modes of interpreting ancient texts. The study of translations falls within a field of research that is generally considered as peripheral to classical studies: the so-called reception of the classics. It is not that this subject has never pertained to academic enquiries.1 It is rather that scientific orthodoxy has fashioned a dividing line, a boundary demarcating two distinct and presumably unrelated areas of research, namely the study of antiquity and the study of reception. In this context, a curious paradox has adhered to the afterlife of classical literature. The reception of ancient texts has been regarded as simultaneously crucial to and inconsequential for classical research. On the one hand, the various forms of artistic, literary and scholarly reformulations of antiquity, studied by historians of classical tradition and scholarship, have been central in defining the transcultural value of classical works and in setting the limits of the classical canon. On the other hand, the study of such rewritings, by focusing on influences and similarities, has typically stressed the role of antiquity in creating a universal Weltanschauung; a hypothesis that not only marginalized the ideological underpinnings of the vision of shared human culture, but also dissociated the study of classical tradition from the investigation of classical literature per se. For the study of ‘influences’ is necessarily one-directional: it 1

As L. Hardwick suggests (2003, 12–31), the study of reception goes back to antiquity itself and includes Roman discussions of translation as well as the Greek and Roman debates over the concept of paideia.

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examines how classical ideas and forms have shaped modern philosophical and aesthetic aspirations, but not how these aspirations may reflect back on the image of antiquity in the modern age. Hence, from Rudolf Pfeiffer’s survey of classical scholarship (1968, 1976) to the numerous investigations of Greek and Roman contributions to modern civilisation – such as R.R. Bolgar’s far-reaching work on classical influences on Western thought or Gilbert Highet’s appraisal of the literary survivals of the classics – these fields have had a vital, yet also strikingly confined role in classical studies.2 However valuable they may have been in tracing the afterlife of antiquity, they were, in Ackerman’s words, ‘primarily a kind of history, not a kind of classics’.3 Over the last few decades, this tradition has been contested by a new field, which has become known as classical reception studies. While reception studies did not constitute a single paradigm, and the term is used here more as a conventional label than a unifying concept,4 one can identify a certain general consensus among practitioners on some key premises of classical research. Of these, the most salient has been a shift of perspective. Historians of the classical tradition start from antiquity and look forward. By contrast, reception studies examine how antiquity has been articulated in the various appropriations of the classics in postclassical times. What this move indicates in methodological terms is that classical works cannot be understood irrespective of the interpreter’s presuppositions, that conceptual ‘prejudices’, as the hermeneutic tradition reminds us,5 are not an obstacle to, but the precondition for understanding antiquity. In so far as all readings and modes of cognition offer a certain construction of the past, which is ultimately conditioned by the present, then classical studies itself, it is argued, has always been a certain kind of reception, while the various developments within the field have been competing forms of interpretation, bound to different times, subjectivities, cultures and societies.6 We could observe at this point that the relationship between classical tradition and reception studies has been generally conceived as antagonistic; the former accusing the latter of futile relativism and the latter speaking of the naïve positivism implied by any claim to historical objectivity or interpretative accuracy.7 Yet the very form of this antagonism, which has developed by evoking opposing premises of historical research and thus 2

Bolgar 1976, 1979; Highet 1949. Quoted in Harrison 2001, 251, n.17. 4 On the diversity of theoretical models used in classical reception studies see Hardwick 2003 and Martindale 1993. 5 Gadamer 1989. 6 Martindale 1993. 7 Yet note Hardwick’s suggestion of employing reception in order to focus attention on the ancient sources, frame new questions or retrieve aspects of the source which have been marginalized or forgotten (2003, 4). 3

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opposing theories for investigating the classics, seems to me to indicate more an absence of dialogue, rather than an insoluble theoretical conflict. What I mean is that the different assertions about the possibility of interpretation, our conceptual proximity to antiquity or the truth-value of our readings have been posed by the two models as two different sets of assumptions about historical knowledge, each of which has been subsequently sustained by evoking its own forms of historical evidence. That this process has precluded dialogue by relegating a metahistorical debate – the problem of interpreting the past – to the realm of evidence that is itself organised by our initial assumptions becomes manifest, when we consider how attempts to address the opposition between the two paradigms conclude by restating the dilemmas they originally set out to resolve. Hence, when the study of classical tradition is called upon to play an ancillary role in the investigation of the classics, to demonstrate the historical background of the discipline or, on fewer occasions, to recover some longforgotten insights into antiquity, then this study acts merely to sustain or broaden our perspective on the past, without ever questioning why this perspective follows almost all previous ones in defining itself as a privileged view of antiquity. Meanwhile, reception-studies models, by focusing on ‘readings’ as the only means of approaching the classics, sidestep the fact that these ‘readings’ are conceivable as a unity due to their relationship to an original. It is not that different interpretations do not also develop through affirmations and refutations within the field of reception.8 It is rather that these encounters, which form the obvious object of medieval, Renaissance or modern criticism and history, would appear natural and inexplicable, if we fail to perceive their relationship to antiquity. In other words, the choice of different eras to appropriate the classical corpus would be reduced to a selfreproducing historical canon, which is taken to stem from and remain within the boundaries of the present. Yet even if all history is, indeed, contemporary history and if all readings spring from and reside in the present, it is the present itself that cannot be taken as a self-enclosed unity. For any historical period, as Raymond Williams has aptly argued, is characterized by the co-existence of three kinds of cultural formations: the ‘residual’, which survive from earlier periods and link the present with the past; the ‘emergent’, which take shape in the present, but go significantly beyond its given terms; and the ‘dominant,’ the forms and practices that most directly relate to existing social conditions and relations.9 A moment of tension between past and future, as Arendt has described it,10 the present develops its forms and objects by deploying the multilayered sediments of 8 9

Martindale 1993. Williams 1993. Arendt 1993.

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past realities, including that of antiquity, by refracting and rewriting the past to serve current intentions and future possibilities. If then, we want to make sense of this present, and thus explain the directions and boundaries of our readings, we need to explore how these readings relate not only to the immediate, but also to the remote past, how they represent, transform or manipulate those distant realities they seek to encounter and utilize. But the very move of identifying these limits, of exploring how our perspective on the past is constrained by and acts itself to constrain the present, is the move that takes us back to antiquity and requires us to retrieve the marginalized and forbidden aspects of classical literature by giving them a new voice in the present. This is not to imply that reception studies should engage in a process of recovering meanings and forms that were present in antiquity, but were lost in interpretation. What is rather suggested is that the interplay between silence and articulation, between the concealment and enunciation of concepts that was carried out by interpretations of the classics was already at work in classical texts, which helped to create the tradition that subsequently shaped their destiny. Yet as this process took on different forms in different ages – forms that expressed the specific conditions of an era – the juxtaposition of ancient texts and their reception can deploy breaks, ‘betrayals’ and manipulations, to illuminate those aspects of our tradition that were strategically left beyond our limits of comprehension. This study of translations of the Protagoras aims, therefore, to investigate the image of Socrates, not by directly examining the text which, among other ancient works, inaugurated the Socratic tradition, but by scrutinizing how this text, which has itself fashioned our access to Socrates, has been channelled throughout the ages to sustain certain readings and exclude or marginalize others. The objective of this discussion is not, however, to account for the history of this tradition, but to attempt a dual transfiguration: the reconception of classical Socrates in terms of the tradition that defined his status and the rewriting of this tradition in terms that both stem from and transcend the limits of ancient culture. Ef faci ng iro ny For Mill Socrates was the first philosopher, which is to say that he was the inventor of philosophy as the critical quest for knowledge. While his image of Socrates derived mainly from Plato, he drew a distinction between the Dogmatic and the Socratic Plato, and considered the latter’s contribution as laying ‘not in the truths which he actually arrived at, but in the improved views which he originated respecting the mode in which truth should be sought.’ It was due to Socrates’ dialectical method that Plato, Mill wrote, not only demonstrated the errors of his predecessors, but also developed his own

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definite positions ‘on the science of the Investigation of Science, the theory of the pursuit of truth’. Mill’s emphasis on Socratic dialectics – ‘the close discussion between two persons, one of whom interrogates, and the other answers’ – entailed the inseparability of philosophy and democratic politics. It involved the collective and critical mode of sifting opinions carried out by free and equal interlocutors, none of whom is in firm possession of knowledge. In other words, a mode which ‘the mere delivery of doctrines from master to student (the practice of the Sophists) absolutely preclude’.11 It was precisely this agonistic process of critical persuasion and consent that subsequently sustained Mill’s political vision. According to Nadia Urbinati, Mill drew on the Greek paradigm – and Socrates in particular – to conceptualize a political order that thrives on publicity, speech and judgement. For these features, as Urbinati points out, guaranteed for him a form of liberty that transcended the dichotomy between negative and positive, and materialized as ‘liberty from subjection’: a condition of public debate, dissent and conscious conviction that allows citizens to understand and justify their choices, rather than to express authority or obedience.12 Yet, in contrast to this approach to dialectics, Mill’s translation of the Protagoras suppressed precisely those aspects of the dialogue which can be read as pronouncements of Socrates’ lack of authority. In 361e Socrates declares that the encounter between him and Protagoras has no real ending, since, in the course of the argument, both interlocutors have contradicted their initial positions. The only outcome that was reached, he remarks, leads to an aporia that highlights the absurdity of their enquiry: kaiv moi dokei' hJmw'n hJ a[rti e[xodo" tw'n lovgwn w{sper a[nqrwpo" kathgorei'n te kai; katagela'n, kai; eij fwnh;n lavboi, eijpei'n a]n o{ti Æ [Atopoiv gæ ejstev, w\ Swvk ratev" te kai; Prwtagovra: (361 a) … it seems to me that the conclusion we have just reached is jeering at us like an accuser. And if it could speak, it would say ‘How absurd you are, both of you’ [Socrates and Protagoras].13

In his rendering Mill gave only a third person paraphrase of the passage: Socrates finally remarked what a whimsical turn their discussion had taken.14

Mill used the same technique to translate the subsequent elaboration of this statement, in which Socrates reiterated the previous positions, so that he could illustrate the irrationality of the dialogue (361A–C). In the translation, this second passage was reduced to a brief, neutral description, which 11

Mill 1978, 43–4. Urbinati 2002, 10–12, 135. 13 Taylor 1976, 56. 14 Mill 1978, 60. 12

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minimized the illocutionary significance of Socrates’ remarks. The use of narrative prose deprived the text of the very quality Mill regarded as the foundation of philosophy: agonistic debate. What is more by omitting Socrates’ statement on mockery, the translation effaced the passage’s ironic overtones. In the source text, Socrates employed an ambiguous and selfcritical language to describe the dialogue in terms of a failure: the atopon of the two positions. By contrast, Mill did not so much speak of failure as of a peculiar twist in the discussion, a ‘turn’ attributable more to personal whims than to modes of philosophizing. Mill has not been the only translator to efface Socratic irony. Benjamin Jowett’s rendering, written towards the end of the nineteenth century also marginalized the ironic dimension of the passage. His translation reads: The result of our discussion appears to me to be singular. For if the argument had a human voice, that voice would be heard laughing at us and saying: Protagoras and Socrates, you are strange beings (emphasis mine).15

Like Mill before him, Jowett censored Socrates’ attempt at self-critique. His translation stressed the peculiarity of conclusions (‘The result … to be singular’) and the strangeness of interlocutors, but suppressed the overall questioning of the dialogue implied by the term atopoi. The words ‘singular’ and ‘strange’ have no philosophical implications. While identifying an unusual turn of the debate, they fail to establish the aporias of its logic. Likewise, Lamb’s translation for Loeb omitted the idea of an absurd argument: if it [the result of our discussion] were given a voice it would say: ‘What strange creatures you are, Socrates and Protagoras!’16

Guthrie’s translation for Penguin used the term absurd, but nevertheless weakened Socrates’ statement by personalizing the subject matter of atopia: If it [the outcome of our talk] had a voice it would say: ‘What an absurd pair you are, Socrates and Protagoras.17

While Guthrie introduced into the translation the idea of logical inconsistency, he immediately qualified this statement by the phrase ‘what an absurd pair you are,’ whose formulation seems to characterize people, rather than propositions. Most significantly, with the exception of Mill’s version, all of these translations (including that by Taylor, quoted after the ancient passage) use 15

Jowett 1892, 187. Ostwald, in his revision of Jowett’s work, kept the passage unchanged apart from the verb ‘saying’ which he translated as ‘charging us’ and the order of the names ‘Protagoras and Socrates’ which was reversed in his translation (1956, 68). 16 Lamb 1924, 255. 17 Guthrie 1985, 99.

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the words ‘result’, ‘conclusion’ or ‘outcome’ to render the term exodos. Arguably, the source phrase exodos tôn logôn conveys the idea of conclusions, and therefore illustrates the process of argumentation and persuasion that took place in the preceding sections. Yet, at the same time, exodos fits uneasily with this process, as it evokes not philosophy, but dramatic performance. Derived from the language of tragedy, exodos suggests an alternative to the philosophical traits of the dialogue, and hence the traits of philosophy as such. Far from simply criticizing the argument, as the comment on atopoi did, exodos points to an act of dissimulation: the hiding of art,18 technê behind philosophy and of public performance behind argumentative debate. Socrates reveals this dissimulation without assuming the role of an enlightened consciousness. He points towards the impure, mixed, incongruous nature of philosophy, without asserting a straight version. In this sense, he is ironic in so far as he criticizes false knowledge without making a positive claim to knowing.19 He is, in Lefebvre words, an actor in a drama of not knowing and of false knowledge. As an ironist, he plays a role. He wears a mask – the mask of philosophy – and in this way he separates actors from masks.20 Contrariwise, translators of the passage abolished Socrates’ self-questioning and declared the purity of philosophy. By rendering exodos by ‘conclusion’ or ‘result’, they missed philosophy’s allusion to what lies beyond its limits: technê, art and performance. Their work maintained the coherence of the dialogue, and by so doing, it also pronounced the coherence of philosophy. This exclusion of the artistic and performative aspect of philosophy allowed the forging of a direct link between philosophical dialogue and democratic politics. As we shall see, translations of the Protagoras defined the political in terms of critical discussion and persuasion that stands above or beyond the social sphere of technê. While Socrates’ statements partly induce this assertion, they are also critical of it. By allowing technê to interrogate the conditions of philosophy, Socrates invites us to question the purity of persuasion and thus interrogate – at least provisionally – the relation between philosophy and democracy.

18

The word ‘art’ is a poor translation of the term technê, as it downplays the role of technê as a social and practical enterprise. It is therefore used here more as a conventional rendering, than as an accurate representation of the ancient term. 19 As A. Nehamas points out, irony – and Socratic irony in particular – does not always hide an unambiguous truth nor does it imply that the ironists are themselves always in clear possession of a truth they are holding back (1998, 67). 20 Lefebvre 1965, 10.

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Phi los op hy f orge ts tec hnê When Mill brought together philosophy and democracy, in the form of dialectical search for truth, he both privileged and jeopardized the political. On the one hand, the art of critical persuasion precluded coercion and yielded equality. On the other hand, the accomplishment of these conditions by means of philosophy entailed that the art of politics, described in the Protagoras as no less a practical enterprise, a technê, than a philosophical endeavour, was to be split from within, divided into two distinct parts, one pertaining to philosophy and the other pertaining to practice. In Mill’s translation, politics dissects itself, and, in so doing, it reinvents the relationship between philosophy and technê, by subsuming the latter to the former. Philosophy, which is linked with the figure of Socrates, becomes the creator of politics, while technê, tied in with Protagoras, is realized as the implementation of philosophical knowledge. Hence, when Protagoras introduces himself in the dialogue as a teacher of political technê, Mill defines him in opposition to Socrates, in the sense that, unlike Socratic philosophy, his art lacks the principles of critical enquiry: para; d æ ejme; ajfikomevno" maqhvsetai ouj peri; a[llou tou h] peri; ou| h{kei. to; de; mavqhmav ejstin eujbouliva peri; tw'n oijkeivwn, o{pw" a]n a[rista th;n auJtou' oijkivan dioikoi', kai; peri; tw'n th'" povlew", o{pw" ta; th'" povlew" dunatwvtato" a]n ei[h kai; pravttein kai; levgein. – ’Ara, e[fhn ejgwv, e{pomaiv sou tw'/ lovgw/… dokei'" gavr moi levgein th;n politikh;n tevcnhn kai; uJpiscnei'sqai poiei'n a[ndra" ajgaqou;" polivta". – Aujto; me;n ou\n tou'tov ejstin, e[fh, w\ Swvk rate", to; ejpavggelma o} ejpaggevllomai – \H kalovn, h\n d æ ejgwv, tevcnhma a[ra kevkthsai, ei[per kevkthsai: ouj gavr ti a[llo prov" ge se; eijrhvsetai h] a{per now'. (318e-319a). I teach them what they come to learn, viz., how they may best manage their own families and how best to speak and act in the affairs of the state.’ – ‘You teach politics then, and profess to make men good citizens.’ – ‘I do so.’ – ‘You possess an admirable art, if you do indeed possess it, which I know not how to disbelieve’.21 (Mill 1978, 48)

Strikingly, Mill does not render euboulia, a term which conveys two distinct, yet interrelated ideas in the original. The first is the capacity to formulate good counsel. The second, which derives from the verb boulomai, is the ability to choose well for oneself, to prioritize one sort of argument or action as better than another. By eliminating this concept, Mill bestows a passive character on technê. He suggests that Protagoras teaches men how best to manage personal and public affairs without providing the principles that would sustain their good judgement. Yet, as Aristotle writes in the Nicomachean Ethics, if one does not know the principles more than the conclusions, he only has knowledge incidentally (1139b 31–6). Or, for that 21

Mill 1978, 48.

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matter, derivatively. In other words, while philosophy, in Mill’s text, is productive of knowledge, as it possesses the method for searching the truth, technê uses derived, incidental wisdom. It is realized by deploying the results of philosophical enquiry. Furthermore, when he describes Protagoras’ technê, Mill suppresses the word dynatôtatos, thus marginalizing the role of power, personal ambition and political manipulation in the organization of the social sphere.22 This rendering accords with both Mill’s and George Grote’s (1867) attempt to revaluate the philosophical and political role of the Sophists. As Mill argued in the introduction to his translation, the word ‘Sophist’, which ‘originally meant “a teacher of wisdom”’, had ‘misleadingly become significative of quibbling and deceit’, while ‘certain Church of England writers … have, for the base purpose of discrediting free institutions … , exaggerated grossly the mischievous tendency of what the Sophists taught’. Yet, as becomes evident in this dialogue, Mill suggests, ‘although Protagoras is confuted, and made to contradict himself … what he utters is by no means either absurd or immoral, but, on the contrary, sound and useful good sense’.23 On this view, Protagoras’s technê becomes valuable, but also harmless. Far from being a means of managing conflict and acquiring power, it becomes a way of disseminating and materializing philosophy in a seemingly harmonious, congruent and civic social realm. This choice does not simply entail that political technê is inferior to the philosophical quest for truth, but involves the conflation of the two concepts, whereby technê has no distinct status, but becomes assimilated to philosophy. It is itself reduced to a form of knowledge, even though a secondary and imitative one. From this perspective, it is not coincidental that Mill translates a Platonic term that combines wisdom and practice, entechnon sophian, by using ‘science’ as the equivalent of technê: ajporiva/ ou\n scovmeno" oJ Promhqeu;" h{ntina swthriva n tw'/ ajnqrwvpw/ eu{roi, klevptei JHfaivstou kai; jAqhna'" th;n e[ntecnon sofivan su;n puriv – ajmhvcanon ga;r a[neu puro;" aujth;n kththvn tw/ h] crhsivmhn genevsqai – kai; ou{tw dh; dwrei'tai ajnqrwvpw/. (321c) Prometheus, to remedy this blunder, stole th;n e[ntecnon sofivan (scientific wisdom) from heaven, and with it fire, without which it was of no use, and bestowed these upon man.24

The phrase ‘scientific wisdom’ is tautological. Mill has already evoked ‘science’ to designate the task of philosophy: ‘the science of the 22

I should like to thank Michael Trapp for pointing out this discrepancy between source text and translation. 23 Mill 1978, 44. 24 Mill 1978, 49.

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Investigation of Science’ (above). In the original, wisdom is reached by means of technê, the quest for philosophy is entechnos, which is to say that this quest passes through practice. In Mill’s translation, philosophy forgets technê, and this act of oblivion produces a new meaning of political technê as a passive enterprise. This meaning is consolidated when Mill translates the conclusion of Protagoras’ argument on flute-players. Protagoras pictures an imaginary city for whose maintenance flute playing is necessary and suggests that, in this city, all men would be educated to be competent flute-players. Likewise, he states, if a society considers justice and lawfulness as virtues that are crucial to its order and thus educates its men accordingly, then even the most unjust citizen of this society would seem just and capable of instituting justice: o{sti" soi ajdikwvtato" faivnetai a[nqrwpo" tw'n ejn novmoi" kai; ajnqrwvpoi" teqrammevnwn, divkaion aujto;n ei\nai kai; dhmiourgo;n touvtou tou' pravgmato", eij devoi aujto;n krivnesqai pro;" ajnqrwvpou" oi|" mhvte paideiva mhvte dikasthvria mhvte novmoi mhde; ajnavgkh mhdemiva dia; panto;" ajnagkavzousa ajreth'" ejpimelei'sqai, ajll æ ei\en a[g rioiv tine" (327cd).

Mill translated this passage as follows: All civilised men, even the most unjust, if compared with men among whom there is no training, no tribunals, no laws, with the wild men [of whom poets tell us,] would appear a perfect master in virtue (emphasis mine).25

The translation introduces two significant transformations of the original. At the beginning of the passage, Mill uses the distinctly modern notion of ‘civilised men’ in order to render Protagoras’ description of men reared within laws and society (tôn en nomois kai anthrôpois tethrammenôn). Subsequently he replaces the idea that each of these men is educated to be himself ‘just’ as well as ‘maker’, ‘craftsman’ (dêmiourgon) of justice with the assertion that a civilized man ‘would appear a perfect master in virtue’. The term ‘master (in)’ conveys the idea of expertise in the rules of justice, a man of learning and capacity (s.v. OED), who does not however ‘produce’ the laws by which virtue is determined. To be a master in virtue means to know what is considered as virtue in a certain social context, but not to participate, actively, in the establishment of this context. Mastery stems from acquired learning (described in the Meno 85c as doxa, in opposition to knowledge, at which the subject arrives by itself and thus becomes aware of the logic of knowing), but does not involve that specific form of knowledge, which would allow man to produce the rules for judgement.

25

Mill 1978, 51.The phrase ‘master of justice’ is also used in Ostwald’s revision of the translation (1956, 26).

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Yet at the very beginning of the Protagoras Socrates distinguishes between dêmiourgia, which stems from the possession of a technê, and mathêsis (learning) which pertains to the general education of free citizens (312b). Furthermore, when he contrasts empeiria and dêmiourgia in the Gorgias, he argues that although both are productive, only the latter produces its results with knowledge (501a–503e).26 While dêmiourgia is used in our passage by Protagoras, it seems contextually possible to read it as ‘productive’ in the latter sense. This reading is also consistent with Protagoras’ previous use of the concept, when, in the myth of Prometheus, he describes dêmiourgikê technê as entechnon sophian, thus combining productive technê with knowledge (321c, 322b). But if Protagoras’s technê, as Mill’s translation indicates, does not involve knowledge, while Socrates’ philosophy evokes knowledge through its division from technê, then virtue, the asserted end of political art, acquires two distinct meanings throughout the dialogue. Or, more accurately, Mill speaks of two roads to virtue, each of which stands in a specific relation to the organization of the polis. On the one hand, the virtue of philosophy, which is the virtue pertaining to ‘productive’ politics, is attained by separating knowledge from practice. It is therefore a virtue born from abstraction, in the sense that the very act of producing truth is accomplished through abstraction: the separation of philosophy from social life, from the realm of practice and technê. On the other hand, technê leads to another form of virtue, that is realized in the social, civil domain: the learning of truths produced by philosophy and politics, the implementation of political knowledge. In this second sense, virtue abandons politics, by renouncing the dialectical art that engenders knowledge. And with this denial, political and social life separate out into different, even though related, spheres. Thus, when Mill translates Protagoras’ description of Athenian politics, he makes a minor, yet highly significant, substitution of ‘the social’ for ‘the political’: ªoi{ te a[lloi kai; oiJ jAqhnai'oiº o{tan de; eij" sumboulh;n politikh'" ajreth'" i[wsin, h}n dei' dia; dikaiosuvnh" pa'san ijevnai kai; swfrosuvnh", eijkovtw" a{panto" ajndro;" ajnevcontai, wJ" panti; prosh'kon tauvth" ge metevcein th'" ajreth'" h] mh; ei\nai povlei". (322d–323a)

In Mill’s translation: [The Athenians and others] ... are ready, when the subject is social virtue, which depends wholly upon justice and prudence, to listen to all advisers; because of this virtue all should be partakers, or states cannot exist.27 26

I am grateful to Thomas Johansen for suggesting the connection between the two passages and for an illuminating discussion on dêmiourgia. 27 Mill 1978, 49.

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This unconscious change of the political into the social, as Arendt observes, goes back to Seneca’s translation of Aristotle’s zôon politikon by animal sociale, which betrays the loss of the Greek understanding of politics as the distinctive feature of humanity. It is already in the Roman concept of societas generis humani that the political vanishes and the social acquires the meaning of a ‘fundamental human condition’: ‘that men cannot live without the company of their species’. While neither Plato nor Aristotle ignored this condition, they contended that man differed from animals not because of this natural association with other men, whose centre is the oikos, but because of bios politikos, a life as a citizen, whose centre was the city.28 Mill redeployed the Roman division and defined the social in opposition to the political. In his translation of the Protagoras this split evoked the distinction between philosophy and technê. In his political writings, it involved a division between the civil realm, which includes people’s private life, interpersonal relations, but also cultural habits and economic activity, as opposed to the political realm, which consists of state institutions and government.29 Thus, his translation articulated a key difference between Athenian and modern democracies, lying in two distinct conceptions of the political. In Athens, political technê was in a continuum with social life and could therefore be exercised (at least in principle) by all citizens. By contrast, modern democracies not only made politics a profession of experts, but also constructed the political as presumably elevated above or beyond the social sphere; as a realm of knowledge that is itself separated from the practices of society as well as the conflicts, divisions and power relations produced by these practices. By the same token, the realm of the social was deemed to safeguard democracy and offer a realisation of freedom, in so far as it endorsed and fortified this division by protecting man’s ‘freedom from politics’.30 That 28

Arendt 1998, 23–4. Hence Mill’ essay On Liberty uses the term social as equivalent to the civil, and presents its object as ‘civil, or social liberty’ (1989, 5). In The Subjection of Women Mill relates social virtue to private conduct and interpersonal relations: ‘Self-respect, self-help, and self-control are the essential conditions both of individual prosperity and of social virtue’ (1869, 163). In his Autobiography, Mill relates the ‘social’ to the economic realm: ‘The social problem of the future we considered to be, how to unite the greatest individual liberty of action with an equal ownership of all in the raw material of the globe & an equal participation of all in the benefits of combined labour’. (1969, 173). 30 This division has provided the foundation of all subsequent appropriations of Socrates by the liberal-democratic tradition. Hence, in the next century, Popper praised Socrates as a democratic critic of democracy on the grounds that he protested against the anti-democratic and oppressive tendencies of Athens: the contempt for intellectual honesty and the obsession with ambition and power. Against this condition, Socrates, in Popper’s view, proposed a conception of politics founded on the individual, ‘on what makes [one] human’: philosophy, that is, the reason and intelligence that sustain one’s self-sufficiency and allow one to stand beyond the corruption of power-politics’ (1962, 190–1). 29

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this division emerged by appropriating Socrates’ idea of the political becomes evident when we consider Mill’s choices in the translation. What remains, however, to be examined, is whether the dialogue between Socrates and Protagoras allows us to move beyond this appropriation, to deploy the limits of Mill’s translation in order to reinterpret the Protagoras and conceptualize an alternative relationship between philosophy, technê and politics. The e dg e o f tr ansl ati o n: re triev ing t he p olitic al ar t In the Protagoras, Socrates advances the paradoxical proposition that although political art is not teachable, it is knowledge. The resolution to this paradox, McIntyre suggests, is provided in other Platonic dialogues, where Socrates elaborates his theory of anamnêsis and argues that knowledge of virtue is already present in man and has to be brought to memory by a philosophical midwife.31 From this perspective, Mill, despite altering Protagoras’ words, could be said to be faithful to Socrates’ spirit. For if knowledge is the awakened memory of truth, present in the immortal soul, then Socrates, as C.C.W. Taylor has observed, operates in this dialogue with two different conceptions of virtue. The first, which underlies his original claim that excellence cannot be taught, is based on the popular belief that virtue neither is nor presupposes a scientific-philosophical technique of assessing one’s actions, and is, therefore, not teachable. The second, which articulates Socrates’ own definition of virtue, is developed when he argues that such a science of measurement, when applied to the measurement of pleasures and pains, is a necessary and sufficient condition of making the right choice of actions. Hence, ‘the appearance of contradiction’, as Taylor points out, ‘is illusory’,32 and Socrates’ final remark on the absurdity of both positions has no real philosophical function in the dialogue. On this view, Mill’s translation, by attributing to Protagoras the idea of separating knowledge from technê, can be read as conflating the Socratic and the Sophistic positions. It makes Protagoras articulate and sustain Socrates’ thesis that virtue does not stem from the ephemeral experience of technê, but from the secure knowledge produced by anamnêsis. Likewise, Mill’s choice to abstract the philosophical-political from the social, in shaping the figure of Protagoras, would also seem to repeat the Socratic claims in the Republic (6– 7) that the road to philosophy is the road out of the social cave, and that philosopher-kings are separated from the main social body. Yet a different reading – or translation – of the Protagoras, reveal a Socrates who is ambiguous with regard to both the relationship between technê and philosophy, and the role of technê in defining the political. As he 31 32

McIntyre 1998, 21; cf. Theatetus 149a–151d. Taylor 1976, 213.

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argues in 357b-c the source of timeless truth, the life-saving capacity for measuring pleasure and pain, is accomplished as the unity of art and science: jEpei; de; metrikhv, ajnavgkh/ dhvpou tevcnh kai; ejpisthvmh. – Sumfhvsousin. – {Hti" me;n toivnun tevcnh kai; ejpisthvmh ejsti;n au{th, eij" au\qi" skeyovmeqa: o{ti de; ejpisthvmh ejstivn, tosou'ton ejxarkei' pro;" th;n ajpovdeixin h}n ejme; dei' kai; Prwtagovran ajpodei'xai peri; w|n h[resq æ hJma'". (357bc).

Philosophy here defines virtue by using both knowledge and technê. It follows that virtue, as John Wallach has argued, requires the harmonious concordance of word and deed, of thought and practice, which technai demonstrated.33 Admittedly, this unity is subsequently questioned by Socrates when he says that the art of measurement is proved to be epistêmê. What is more, Socrates further disputes the interrelation of truth and technê in other dialogues, where he argues that knowledge of ethical notions could not be reduced to a technê or epistêmê. Yet in the specific passage, the practical complement of philosophy re-emerges in the form of a contradiction: the statement that the art of measurement is both technê and epistêmê, followed by the assertion that it is only epistêmê. This aporetic formulation is transformed in most translations of the passage, which alter the conjunctive to disjunctive syntax, thus defining measurement as either art or science. [the security of our lives comes] to measuration, art, or science. What kind of art or science it is, we will enquire another time: for the purpose of our argument, enough has been done when we have shown that it is science.34 And this, as possessing measure, must undeniably also be an art and science. – They will agree, he said. The nature of that art or science will be a matter of future consideration; but the existence of such a science furnishes a demonstrative answer to the question which you asked of me and Protagoras.35 And being measurement, I presume it must be an art or science? – They will assent to this. – Well, the nature of this art or science we shall consider some other time; but the mere fact of its being a science will suffice for the proof which Protagoras and I are required to give in answer to the question you have put to us.36 And if so [if it is a question of measurement], it must be a special skill or branch of knowledge.’ – Yes, they will agree.’ – ‘What skill, or what branch of knowledge it

33

Wallach’s suggestion is that, while both epistêmê and technê implicitly refer to activities that connect thought and action, technai evidenced a broader consensus backing their social practice (2001, 128). 34 Grote 1867, 65–6. 35 Jowett 1892, 182. 36 Lamb 1924, 241.

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is, we shall leave till later. The fact itself is enough for the purposes of the explanation which you have asked from Protagoras and me’.37 And this, as possessing measure, must undeniably also be an art and science. – They will agree, he said. – The nature of this art or science will be a matter of future consideration; but the demonstration that it is a science has been adequately made, and that is what you asked of me and Protagoras (emphases mine).38 ‘And since it’s measurement, then necessarily it’s an art which embodies exact knowledge.’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Now which art and what knowledge, we shall inquire later. But this suffices to show that it is knowledge, and to provide the demonstration that Protagoras and I were required to give in reply to your question (emphasis in the original).39

The ambiguity of the Platonic Socrates as to the state of philosophy is largely eliminated in the translations. The original proposition is aporetic in stressing, at first, the interconnection of technê and epistêmê in order to immediately identify the art of measurement with the latter. By contrast all of the above translations (with the partial exception of Ostwald’s and Taylor’s rendering of the first phrase)40 make the two statements consistent, by dissociating knowledge and practice. On this view, while Socrates asserts the limits of knowledge in the realm of the political, the translators declare the autonomy of both philosophy and politics. This choice brings us back to the logic that underlies the effacement of irony from Socrates’ final remarks in the dialogue. When Socrates uses metaphor to present reason as a human accuser, he both asserts and interrogates the autonomy of philosophy. The irony of the scene lies in the dual move of oblivion and remembrance, which qualifies the entire dialogue. As Linda Hutcheon has put it, the ironic mode takes place ‘in the space between (and including) the said and the unsaid’ and entails that ironic meaning ‘is always different – other than and more than the said’.41 On this view, the irony of the last passage (357b–c) emerges as the return of the encounter between epistêmê and technê, a conflict between the said and the repressed, which becomes the foundation of philosophy. In other words, the 37

Guthrie 1985, 94. Ostwald 1956, 63. 39 Taylor 1976, 51. 40 Yet Ostwald immediately qualifies this statement by the use of disjunctive syntax in rendering the following phrase. Likewise, Taylor’s translation ‘an art which embodies exact knowledge’, while indicating the interconnection between technê and philosophy, seems also to downplay the practical element of the former, and thus subsume technê to philosophy. Furthermore his subsequent phrase ‘which art and what knowledge’, by using two different pronouns (which are italicised in the text) follows all previous translations in separating the two concepts. 41 Hutcheon 1994, 12–13. 38

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object of this irony is not Socrates’ or Protagoras’ positions taken in isolation, but their mode of enquiring into truth. Socrates’ remarks convey a certain attitude towards the mode of their enquiry, they reveal the irony inherent in the very practice of philosophy – a practice which emerges victorious from the very conflict it strives to suppress. This acknowledged concealment of philosophy’s silenced counterpart is also present in other Platonic dialogues: when, for example, the technê of midwifery in the Theaetetus both serves and engenders knowledge (149a–151d); or the technê of drawing in the Meno, as Howard Caygill has argued, becomes the slave of a slave, and yet also secures, through this double slavery, the eternal memory that informs philosophy.42 But since this enquiry lies beyond the scope of this essay, I now wish to complete my analysis, by noting how Mill’s translation of the last passage preserves the aporia of the original, thus demonstrating the contradictions of modern conceptions of technê and philosophy. As he writes, But if it be measurement, it is art, and knowledge. What particular art and knowledge it is, we shall hereafter inquire; but that it is knowledge, we have clearly shown, in opposition to that opinion of the vulgar which we set out with combating (emphasis mine).43

By conceptualizing this Socratic alternative, Mill’s translation not only interrogates the task of philosophy, but also invites us to think that the uncertain victory of knowledge over technê – a victory first accomplished by forbidding irony – presupposes a something beyond their opposition, a category that made their antagonism possible. I suggest that this category can be found in Arendt’s description of technê in terms of the distinction between labour and work.44 As she contends, labour and work correspond to the division between working with one’s hands – the art of the cheirotechnês or craftsman – and working with one’s body – the work of those who, in Aristotle’s words, ‘like ‘slaves and tame animals with their bodies minister to the necessities of life’ (Politics 1254b25). While the semantic field covered by the two concepts was not fixed throughout antiquity, the act of labour, as Arendt points out, generally meant to be enslaved by necessity, while work involved a condition of freedom acquired by entering the public sphere of the polis. Work and labour were further conceived as related, Arendt contends, on the grounds that enslavement by necessity is inherent to the conditions of human life. Thus, since men are unavoidably dominated by the necessities of life they

42 43 44

Caygill 1996, 3–4. Mill 1978, 59. Arendt 1998, 80.

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could win their freedom and acquire technê only by dominating those whom they subject to necessity by force.45 If then political technê is located not in the opposition between philosophy and technê, but in the triptych philosophy-work (technê)-labour, then the accomplishment of the political is revealed to involve the very condition that democratic politics presumably excludes: force. Through its connection with labour, technê exposes the limits of politics as an act of persuasion and dialogue, it brings to light the oppression and unreason that lies in the heart of what counts as conviction and reason. In other words, Socrates’ enunciation of philosophy’s counterpart criticises democracy for violating the principle that engenders the political: the free and critical debate that excludes coercion and allows the community to formulate judgement. His ironic voice pronounces the irony inherent in this judgement, the aporias of dialectics and the iniquities of virtue and justice. Yet he also invokes, through this negation, the potential for judgement in the correlation of technê and philosophy, the reinstitution of the political as the realm of remedying injustice. As Lefebvre wrote, the ironic Socrates, ‘a man who passed judgement, who wanted to pass judgement, … probably also knew that judgement is impossible’. At the same time, however, he allowed us to realise that: perhaps true justice comes from the outrage judgement provokes, and is done only in the aftermath of that outrage. (This proposition can be reversed. Perhaps true judgements come only from the outrage all human justice provokes).46

Refere nces Arendt, H. (1998), The Human Condition, Chicago; London: The University of Chicago Press (originally printed 1958). Arendt, H. (1993), Between Past and Future: eight exercises in political thought, Harmonsdworth: Penguin Books (original ed. 1961). Bolgar, R.R. (ed.) (1976), Classical Influences on Western Thought A.D. 1500–1700, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bolgar, R.R. (ed.) (1979), Classical Influences on Western Thought A.D. 1650–1870, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Caybill, H. (1996), ‘Editorial: a touch of memory’, Tekhnema. Journal of Philosophy and Technology 3: 3–6.

45 46

Arendt 1998, 79–86. Lefebvre 1965, 9.

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Gadamer, H.G. (1989), Truth and Method, tr. J. Weinshemier and D.G. Marshall, London: Sheed and Ward (original ed. 1960). Grote, G. (1867), Plato and the Other Companions of Socrates, vol. 2, London: John Murray (original ed. 1865). Guthrie, W.K.C. (1985), Plato. Protagoras and Meno, Harmondsworth: Penguin (original ed. 1956). Hardwick, L. (2003), Reception Studies, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Harrison, S.J. (2001) (ed.), Texts, Ideas, and the Classics: scholarship, theory and classical literature, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Highet, G. (1949), The Classical Tradition: Greek and Roman influence on Western literature, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Hutcheon, L. (1994), Irony’s Edge: the theory and politics of irony, London and New York: Routledge. Jowett, B. (1892), The Dialogues of Plato, vol. 1, Oxford: Oxford University Press (original ed. 1871). Lamb, W.R.M. (tr.) (1924), Laches, Protagoras, Meno, Euthydemus, Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Lefebvre, H. (1965), Introduction to Modernity, London: Verso (original ed. 1962). MacIntyre, A. (1998), A Short History of Ethics: a history of moral philosophy from the Homeric age to the twentieth century, London: Routledge (original ed. 1966). Martindale, C. (1993), Redeeming the Text: Latin poetry and the hermeneutics of reception, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mill, J.S. (1869), The Subjection of Women, London: Longman’s Green. Mill, J.S. (1969), Autobiography, ed. J. Stillinger, Oxford: Oxford University Press (original ed. 1873). Mill, J.S. (tr.) (1978), ‘Protagoras’, in Essays on Philosophy and the Classics, in J.M. Robson (ed.), Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, vol. 6, Toronto and London: University of Toronto Press; Routledge and Kegan Paul, 39–61 (original ed. 1834). Mill, J.S. (1989), On Liberty and Other Writings, ed. Stefan Collini, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (original ed. 1859). Nehamas, A. (1998), The Art of Living: Socratic reflections from Plato to Foucault, Berkeley: University of California Press. Ostwald, M. (ed.) (1956), Protagoras, tr. B. Jowett, rev. M. Ostwald, ed. G. Vlastos, New York: Indianapolis. Pfeiffer, R. (1968), History of Classical Scholarship from the Beginnings to the End of the Hellenistic Age, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Pfeiffer, R. (1976), History of Classical Scholarship from 1300 to 1850, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Popper, K.R. (1962), The Open Society and Its Enemies. The spell of Plato, London: Routledge; Kegan Paul (originally printed 1945). Taylor, C.C.W. (tr. and comm.) (1976), Plato. Protagoras, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Urbinati, N. (2002), Mill on Democracy: from the Athenian polis to representative government, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Wallach, J.R. (2001), The Platonic Political Art: a study of critical reason and democracy, University Park, The Pennsylvania State University: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

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Williams, R. (1993), Culture and Society, Coleridge to Orwell, London: The Hogarth Press (original ed. 1958). Williams, R. (1977), Marxism and Literature, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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10 Totali tari an Socr ates * Iskra Gencheva-Mikami This chapter is not about Socrates. Nor is it about totalitarianism in Eastern Europe, or about Soviet influence on its culture. Its real subject is intellectual space in a non-intellectual environment, and the ways in which Socrates can constitute a welcome symbol for both those opposites. It concentrates principally on the experience of one Eastern Bloc country – Bulgaria – but offers it as symptomatic of a broader pattern. Why Socrates? And how did it become possible to encounter both extremes in his image? To put them together sounds like an attempt at erasing the unerasable – the difference between dialogue and monologue as social characteristics. It is nevertheless true that they converged in the ‘totalitarian’ Socrates. By modifying his image, the official State propaganda of Eastern Bloc countries after 1946 sought to manipulate a highly controversial cultural symbol, the potential social function of which was not to divide, but to introduce an element of dialogue into structures addicted to monologue. The controversies surrounding Socrates’ case mirror the contradictory development of a society under an imposed foreign cultural domination – a society which never strongly resisted the blind copying of hollow ideological patterns, but never really managed to reconcile them with its own genuine nature. Such a society inevitably remains deadlocked somewhere in between the intellectually camouflaged surface and its own inner emptiness, thus generating negative dialectical models and moving only, unproductively, in the vicious circle of a destructive social scepticism. In such a context the totalitarian image of Socrates embodied a very different outlook and social functions to the one we know in fifth-century Athens, or at any later time. Challenging existing rules, nourishing social protest, he strongly encouraged dialogue between the established order and *

With admiration and gratitude to Petar Hristov Pachnikov – a Bulgarian educator who devotedly believed in creative trouble in an era of silence. I would like to express my gratitude to the editor Michael Trapp for his generous assistance, for his sensitive reading of the text, cogent suggestions and stimulating questions.

From Socrates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, ed. M.B. Trapp. Copyright © 2007 by M.B. Trapp. Published by Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Gower House, Croft Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 3HR, UK. 187

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its opponents. By thus defending what seem to be two opposed poles, totalitarian Socrates multiplied his own image, saturating it with the sharp contrasts of his own native social and cultural environment. * Whose was ‘totalitarian’ Socrates, then, if he was allowed to make such a notable splash of colour on the monochrome ideological canvas of Eastern European totalitarianism? Against this background the phenomenon of Socrates stands out in bold contrast. Why was such a stark exception officially permitted? Didactic purposes must be mentioned first. Whatever was done in the field of Marxist ancient history, it was all supposed to correspond closely to the code of values that fitted the Procrustean bed of totalitarian culture. The basic information about Socrates obtainable from reference books of those times was thus deliberately simple. The entries introduced him as a famous Athenian philosopher who did not leave any written works, but many followers instead, and whose life ended tragically with the death penalty imposed on him by his fellow citizens of Athens.1 This presentation of Socrates leaves various options open, some very desirable, others less welcome, for any totalitarian ideology. The images of Socrates that resulted can be divided into two main groups; the first represented a Socrates entirely consonant with the basic postulates of totalitarian culture, while the second united everything that challenges it. Those which were officially approved as serving clearly defined ideological demands were surrounded in their turn by other positive or negative versions, evaluated respectively as good and bad, but always as embodying useful 1

A good example is the entry in the Short Historical Manual (I. The Ancient World), which deserves extended quotation: ‘S S o crat es (46 9– 39 9 BC) – distinguished Athenian idealist philosopher, ideologist of the slave-owing aristocracy. S. deliberately undertook the task of substantiating idealistic philosophical theories; he accused the Sophists of being not men of wisdom, but tradesmen in wisdom. He doubted if human beings are able to understand the world. He used to say: ‘I know that I know nothing.’ No works by him have come down to us, and his importance was greatly exaggerated by his pupil Plato. According to S. not every citizen can take part in the government of the state, but only those who had been through the proper preparation, i.e. the aristocrats. This teaching went against the democratic government of those times in Athens and at a moment of particular tension in political life he was sentenced to death as an enemy of the democracy. With his teaching, which was a sign of the debasement of the Athenian democracy, S. did indeed politically debauch the young; prosecuted for this, he was condemned to drink poison, which he did surrounded by his followers’ (Tacheva, Danov, and Stancheva 1980, 180). In this historical manual the authorship of the entries included is not mentioned, there is no index nominum either. For milder and more neutral accounts, see: Radev 1988, 198–9; Nikolova 1985, Appendix: Alphabetical index of ancient names and terms (Azbuchen pokazaletz na imenata i antichnite poniatia), 278.

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lessons. A man of wisdom thus appeared, the image of Socrates as educator and mentor, with a bold emphasis on his humble social origin and poverty. In this rather neutral version of the totalitarian Socrates, equally comfortable both for defenders and for critics of the political regime, there are several distinguishable strata. For the admirers of totalitarian culture, Socrates was above all the source of an everyday wisdom that could disguise any banality as an eternal truth. But not only that. Being a citizen of the mother of democracy, Athens, Socrates embodied in this case also the wisdom of democracy itself – a very desirable link for any totalitarian regime wishing to insist on the strength of its democratic credentials. Thus, through the imputation to Socrates of a mentor’s ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’, this image became popular as a moderate, intellectually-shaped but soft propaganda tool – modifiable, flexible and therefore adaptable to different contexts.2 The dominant illustrative form here was the anecdote or sententia: short, expressive, often witty, and therefore easy to memorize, its proverb-like form makes it approachable for a wide audience. A translation of Aulus Gellius’ Noctes Atticae3 is characteristic of this presentation of Socrates. Drawing exaggerated attention to several chapters containing anecdotes about Socrates, it co-opted his image as a valuable, but painless and conveniently ancient part of the so-called ‘mass-culture’ policy.4 Socrates the educator was a different figure for the critics of totalitarianism. First and foremost, he was not a dogmatic mentor; his way of educating was not through giving answers but through posing questions. It was then up to his ‘pupils’ whether or not they could benefit from this kind of dialogic education. There were no prescriptions in the teaching of this Socrates, nor were there rigid educational formulae – a lively and flexible idea of education, which could however exist only theoretically in an age of petrified education of a purely ideological kind. This Socrates was not popular, nor was he influential; during the decades of totalitarian rule he remained a shadow, questioning the established rules, a shadow which official propaganda tried to keep as invisible as possible.5 Viewing the history of Classical Antiquity in a deliberately simplified way produced another very popular image of Socrates, the philosopher as victim of a slave-based and slave-minded society. The emphasis here fell on the supposedly irreconcilable contradiction between slaves and slave-owners – a 2

Nikolova 1985, 1.17; 2.1, p. 30. Tomov 1985, 62–70. See also Sventzitzkaiya 1982, 286–7: ‘Happiness comes from virtue … No one would refuse happiness … Vices come from not knowing the way to the virtue, i.e., they come from ignorance’. 3 Nikolova 1985. 4 Nikolova 1985, 1.17; 2.1, pp. 25, 30. Tomov 1985, 62–70. 5 Mihailov et al. 1979–90, vol. 1, 7–33 (foreword by Mihailov); Tomov 1999, 67–70 (article originally written in 1996).

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topic beloved of Marxist historians. 6 Socrates provided a comfortably illustrative example. Within a generally event-oriented framework, personalizing the victim has a particularly important role to play in this case, calling as it does both for sympathy for him and for antipathy to the social order which made such a case possible. The image of Socrates as victim is designed to recall also the martyrdom of self-sacrificing individuals in later times, who accepted death rather than give up their ideals – an image well-suited to the ideological canvas of totalitarian propaganda in general, where this heroic screenplay with a transparent ancient Greek overlay is supposed to add a somewhat more intellectual tone.7 Illustrations in textbooks on Ancient Greece reveal this quite plainly. Most of them do not show the face of the philosopher, but they rarely omit the prison in which he waited for the day of his execution. The atmosphere of victimization is deepened by the contrast between the primitive physical surroundings and the refinement of philosophy itself, symbolized by the prisoner. Black-and-white pictures of the rocky prison with its heavy doors are the leitmotif of popular and school-oriented publications on Socrates.8 Two other strong emphases are remarkable in this image of Socrates as victim: on the last days of the philosopher with his followers, and on the famous moment with the cup of hemlock. In both cases, however, what is portrayed is the suffering rather than the sufferer: he is either hardly recognizable among the other personages of the group illustrated, or remains half-hidden behind the poisoned cup. The central element is the suffering of the victim, not the victim, nor the reason for his suffering. What is deliberately left out is his trial. It was hardly ever described in detail, and still more rarely analyzed. This is not surprising. From a society notorious for innumerable civil trials of intellectuals, it would be illogical to expect a concentration on the arguments brought for and against Socrates in court. Avoiding discussion of the complications of his trial was advisable for other reasons too. In the first place, entering on any such discussion would inevitably have lead to the unmasking of the Athenian democracy, which had a truly golden image in studies of classical Greek history in totalitarian times. Secondly, it would have meant allowing Socrates to speak and – as is well known – most of what he said at his trial is not as comfortably ancient as 6

Golubtzova 1988, Preface, 9 ff. (in Russian); Murigina 1967, 3–25, in Russian; Rossius 1988, 7–19 (in Russian); Sventzitzkaiya 1982, 5–28. 7 Golubtzova 1988, 296 ff. and 336 ff. 8 The first illustration showing the prison of Socrates appeared in a pre-totalitarian edition from a politically left-oriented publishing house: Plato 1941, xv (Fig. 10.1). No additional explanation is given, the only caption under the black-white picture being: ‘The prison in which Socrates was kept’ (‘Zatvorat, v koito e lejal Sokrat’). During the period of the totalitarian regime the same illustration was widely used for educational purposes and reprinted without any commentary or critical annotation.

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it might at first seem. At the base of all these fears no doubt lay the main fear, of disputing, discussing, exchanging opinions. That is why the Socrates of totalitarian imagination remained silent, as if the threat raised in Libanius’ declamation had been realized.9 Thus another paradox appeared in the depiction of Socrates as victim: condemnation without description of the crime. The fact of suffering, which was supposed to monumentalize the philosopher in his identity as the just man, was considered the most important from the ideological point of view. Such a version of the last days of Socrates thus had a double goal. The monumentalized suffering was supposed to influence the collective mind of the people by making them subconsciously identify themselves with a hero who was ‘one of us’. Leaving the audience to undergo its dramatic katharsis by making it focus on the suffering thus allowed avoidance of a particularly dangerous topic, the problem of the trial itself. At the opposite pole was the ‘negative’ portrayal of Socrates, which was not monumental at all, but operated rather at the primitive level of everyday street-gossip. The formula was simple: to be a philosopher means to be an intellectual, but to be an intellectual means above all to question the postulates of collectively-minded totalitarian society, in a way hardly welcome to a monologic community. The means adopted to compromise the figure of the intellectual through the image of Socrates are easy to trace, consisting of attributing to him generally unpopular behaviour and personal eccentricities. There were two main elements, the philosopher’s irregular family life and his sex-life (presented in a deliberately reticent manner). In both respects, Socrates failed to fit in with the code of everyday values in totalitarian society. Emphasizing them therefore meant using Socrates as a way of personalizing social sin. The family life of the philosopher appeared rather in the form of a caricature with some grotesque accents.10 The topic of his sexual orientation acquired more dramatic tones. This contrast should cause no surprise, as it is here that the Socrates theme approached one of the most firmly established 9

Libanius, Declamations 2, The Silence of Socrates; translation in Russell 1996, 58–66. Nikolova 1985, 1.17 (fn. 2); Appendix, 258: ‘Xanthippe – wife of Socrates, who became the prototype of the shrew and capricious housewife’; Tomov 1985; Boyadziev 1987, 37ff. (and passim). Also noteworthy is the translation of Phaedo in Balabanov 1925. The version of Socrates’s home life given in the preface of this old school oriented edition (p. 5) remained influential after 9.ix.1944 too, as successive generations of teachers repeated and embroidered it: ‘So comical are the aspects and habits of his teacher that Plato emphasizes, that when reading about those things in his dialogues, one is willing to admit that Socrates’ wife Xantippe had reasons enough to ‘caress’ him with her broom, as the stories say she did, especially when he would return home after his many wise discussions and pleasant conversations in the coffee shops and barbers’ shops of those days, wandering around the streets and public eating-places, but returning home with empty hands, so that there was nothing with which to feed either his children, or Socrates himself’. 10

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taboos of totalitarian society, homosexuality. It is difficult to find this topic in printed publications either on Ancient Greece or on Socrates himself, written during this fiercely homophobic period. Such whispering was left instead for seminars and lectures, which were supposed to add a grain of salt to otherwise insipid books in this field. The so-called ‘unnatural’ sexual orientation of the Athenian philosopher (this was the usual totalitarian euphemism for ancient homosexuality) conjured up a very different image of Socrates, indirectly justifying the only charge against him that was commonly cited: his bad influence on young people. A bold emphasis on the correlation between homosexuality and intellectuals on the one side, and corruption of the young on the other, was hardly accidental. It was supposed to fuel doubts about the nature of intellectuals and their role in a totalitarian community, and fears about their influence on the education and upbringing of the younger generation.11 It is in this connection that we encounter a marked frequency in appearances of the philosopher’s face. The reason for its (over)exposure in an otherwise event-oriented narrative is clear; portrayal of the sin was supposed to be more convincing than any merely verbal description. In order to deepen the impression of Socrates’ irregularity, his image was presented to the public side-by-side with the more ‘regular’ facial features of others of his contemporaries. The contrast was intended to be eloquent: the contrast between right and wrong, sin and virtue, symbolized in a simplified (and therefore widely comprehensible) manner by physical beauty and ugliness. But there was no accompanying verbal explanation of the sin itself; the topic of homosexuality was something that could not even be spoken about. The sinner thus appears without the sin, but nevertheless condemned and all the more humiliatingly degraded because of it.12 This would have remained just a case of the misunderstanding and misuse of classical antiquity, if it had not generated the presumption of an equivalence between the figures of the intellectual and the homosexual, and 11

Cf. Tacheva, Danov, and Stancheva 1980, 180: ‘… S. did indeed politically debauch the young; prosecuted for this, he was condemned to drink poison, which he did surrounded by his followers.’ Yanakiev 1988, 72: ‘… With mild-seeming, but somehow perverse smiles they [sc. philosophers] upset the thoughts of the young; with ‘velvet gloves’ they tear up their ‘rational minds’. It is important to emphasize that this conclusion comes after a discussion on the influence of Zeno and Parmenides on the young, ‘naïve’ and ‘enthusiastic’, Socrates and Aristotle, whose minds get seduced and confused by the older philosophers (ibid., 72). More detailed discussion of the problem in: Bogdanov 1989, 189 ff. (‘The Greek philosopher – a marginal figure’). 12 Tacheva et al. 1980, 180 (Fig. 10.2); Vorontzov 1976, illustrative appendix between pages 160 and 161 (Fig. 10.3). No explanation of Socrates’ image is given in these books; the only caption under the portrait in both cases is ‘Socrates’. In contrast, there is an attempt to introduce another kind of ‘visual effect’ in the design of the appendices to Chamoux 1979, 272 ff., ill. 163, 164 (Fig. 10.4). Other individual illustrations also emphasize Socrates’ ugliness (Fig. 10.5).

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thus also the intellectual and sin, 13 which is still one of the practically incurable malformations of post-totalitarian times. If there is any good outcome of this cultural deadlock, it is the effect that generalizing the ‘sin’ and attributing it to a particular group has in opening space for the establishment of a counter-society within society itself. We could reasonably call it a Socratic society in this latter context, since its own existence is a questioning of and a challenge to the general environment, just by being different. Between the images of Socrates the mentor, Socrates the victim, and Socrates the sinner, there still remained space for yet another ‘otherness’, one which in its avoidance of both black-and-white and over-coloured representations can claim to be the most intellectually satisfying of them all. This image emerged not in talk about Socrates, but through Socrates. This was the space where the Athenian philosopher was allowed to make himself heard, speaking in the (somewhat divergent) voices assigned him by Plato and by Xenophon. The tradition of translating classical texts from Greek and Latin has had different fortunes in each one of the countries of the former Soviet bloc.14 In Soviet Classics, the tradition was never interrupted: good and bad, translations continued to be produced. Hungary, too, constitutes a remarkable case: here also an uninterrupted tradition of translating classical texts was maintained both at high-school and at university level. And in Czechoslovakia and Poland too much was done to keep Classics alive. In Bulgaria, the picture was different. Soon after the so-called ‘socialist revolution’ of 9 November 1944 came a ‘reform’ of the educational system. The Higher Education Law of 1948, together with the Public Education Law and legislation concerning the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences put the educational and scholarly field entirely under the direct control of the party in power. This is the crucial point when Bulgarian connections with European educational traditions are drastically interrupted. The alternative was the Soviet model of education and scholarship. This reform resulted in the abolition of all ‘bourgeois’ disciplines, Classics at university and secondary level among them, and in the removal from the educational system of all ‘bourgeois’ professors, teachers, intellectuals, students.15 The following decades inherited therefore a practically Soviet-shaped Classics in Bulgaria, and even after the classical education in Bulgaria was re-established institutionally, 16 this ‘heritage’ 13

See Mihailov et al. 1979–90, vol. 2 (1981), notes 646–647. Bogdanov 1989, 189 ff. and 202–3; cf. Chamoux 1979, 224–5. 14 Natunewicz 2000; online version available at http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~sarmatia/400/ natunewicz.html. 15 Donkov 1999, 180 ff. Bogdanov 1999, 9–13. 16 Following multiple re-organizations at the University of Sofia, classical subjects were restored at secondary level as late as in 1977 through their introduction into the curricula of

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remained particularly vital. Everything needed for educational purposes concerning classical antiquity was in Russian, or translated from Russian into Bulgarian. We had to see it therefore through the eyes of Soviet scholars, and to learn about it from Russian translations, because texts in their original classical languages were practically inaccessible. One of the consequences of this extreme ‘reform’ was the gap which appeared in the tradition of translating texts from classical languages into Bulgarian: old translations were already outdated, and new ones were not produced because of the lack both of educators and learners with the necessary background in classical languages. The case of Plato’s and Xenophon’s Socrates constitutes a particularly eloquent example. Thanks to a well-established classical tradition, many translations were made before 1944 either for educational or for scholarly use, in an intellectual dialogue uninterrupted until the advent of socialism. As far as Plato’s Socrates is concerned, the main emphasis was on the Apology and, from among the dialogues, Phaedo, Crito, and Euthyphro. Translations appeared frequently between 1907 and 1928, followed in 1943 by an isolated reprint of a version of the Apology first published in 1925. 1946 saw the last translation, of the Symposium; the date is no co-incidence, since this is exactly the time of the brutal interruption of the classical tradition in Bulgaria. Then came silence, through the long decades until 1979, when Plato’s Socrates was allowed to speak again in a four-volume translation of his works. 17 With the way thus re-opened, separate editions of selected dialogues followed soon afterwards, in 1982. 18 The editors of the 1982 edition of Selected Dialogues (the same as were responsible for the four-volume Plato) highlighted Ion, Protagoras, Symposium and Phaedo, a selection which focused on some extremely hot topics for the totalitarian regime: the state constitution, a re-opening of the old discussion of the cohabitation of soul and body. As to the translations’ social role, we could call them educational in a purely Socratic way; their translators’ real intention was not just to restore the classical tradition in Bulgaria, but to change society by making it think about its current state and its future. In this latter context, the image of Socrates promoted by the four-volume Plato must also be considered. What is most remarkable in this case is the very act of publishing a book with such a dangerously challenging title, ‘Dialogues’. In 1979, when it makes its appearance, no dialogues are officially favoured; this is the period of Bulgaria’s strictest and most complete some specialist schools, first in Sofia, then in Varna and Gabrovo. See Bogdanov 1999. 17 Mihailov et al. 1979–90. This Bulgarian translation of Plato’s Dialogues (Dialozi) was at first announced as a two-volume edition; a third volume, containing Plato’s Politeia (Darjavata), was then added; vol. 4 followed after an interval, to complete the edition. The first two volumes appeared in 1979 and 1981; vol. 4 was published in 1990. 18 Mihailov and Bogdanov 1982.

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domination by monologue. The second volume, and the third one containing the Republic, appearing shortly after the first in 1981, made the work’s social message easily readable: that there was a need of real public discussion of the state constitution, citizens’ obligations and rights, and all existing forms of government. Xenophon’s Socrates had a different way of approaching the changing totalitarian reality. Excluding some valuable translations from the Greek dating from before 1944, nothing else of his was published in Bulgaria until 1984. Xenophon thus existed during the period from 1942 to 1984 only for learners of classical Greek at the University of Sofia, after the restoration of the Department of Classics, and for pupils in specialist high schools. Even in 1984, it was Xenophon for schools, the author of the Anabasis, who came first. His Socrates had to wait for 1985.19 In the same year, the publication of a translation of Diogenes Laertius’s Lives of the Philosophers, which includes the story of Xenophon’s and Socrates’ first meeting, lent additional anecdotal colour to perceptions of their relationship. Thus one further Socrates reached an audience – Socrates as pious and loyal citizen, wise preacher, and practical tutor.20 We can only guess why it was that this (to the totalitarian outlook) far more acceptable version of Socrates’ personality only appeared four years after the ironical, contradictory Socrates of Plato, with his intellectual devotion to the pursuit of knowledge in his own distinctive manner; but it would be wrong to expect to see scholarly motives alone at work. Although the creation of an indirect dialogue between Plato’s Socrates and Xenophon’s was no doubt valuable enough, it would seem that there was also an intention to prevent either one of them from achieving any degree of intellectual domination. The very availability of these two traditionally opposed images naturally encouraged their juxtaposition, and questions about their relative reliability, thus reviving the question of the ‘authentic’ Socrates. Such results as there were of this renewed quest for the (so-called) ‘historical’ Socrates were summarized mainly in works on Greek philosophy,21 which served further to limit its scope and impact. For during the decades of totalitarian rule in Eastern Europe ‘philosophy’ meant nothing but Marxism. All that therefore could be expected in a case like this was pale shadows of ideological schemata, with their obligatory identifying historical labels. 19

The last two translations of Xenophon are from 1941 and 1942: Molchanov 1941; Mirchev 1942. Translations of Xenophon after 9.ix.1944: Mirchev and Stefanov 1984; Stefanov 1985. 20 Tomov 1985. 21 Radev 1988; Boyadziev, prefaces to the translations of Xenophon, Plato, Diogenes Laertius (Stefanov 1985; Mhiailov and Bogdanov 1979; Tomov 1985). See also Ierman 1988a, 19–31; Ierman 1988b, 31–42.

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Exceptions were few, but sufficient to lead to a further stage in the development of Socrates’ image: ‘ … there is no such thing as an authentic Socrates at all, as there is no authentic Plato, or authentic Descartes, as there is no such thing as an authentic human being … and it seems that we have to give up once and for all the hope – or illusion – of reaching the authentic Socrates … ’ Conclusions of this kind, widely popular in philosophical publications, suggest the further image of Socrates, of the intellectual who remains in voluntary seclusion in his own world of wisdom, renouncing the search for truth or knowledge as in principle unattainable. This passive social protest, although truly intellectual, suited the totalitarian cultural context: upholding social petrifaction rather than social mobility, it can pose no real threat to the established order.22 * Between the images of Socrates as mentor and educator, and as sinner and victim, between his words and his silence, his Platonic and his Xenophontic versions, appeared the contours of an essentially double-natured intellectual, the figure of an ever-doubtful man in search of the truth about himself and about the world around him. He protested, but his protest remained moderate and passive. He challenged basic social structures, but allowed them to control the course of his own life. He put society metaphorically on trial, but was himself literally put on trial. He left many followers, but all of them, at the extremes of their respective fields of politics, philosophy and literature, reproduced in their own way his inner polarity.

22

Yanakiev 1988 is a characteristic example of how this deadlock in late- and posttotalitarian philosophy in Bulgaria, with its voluntary self-isolation, has coloured the study of antiquity as well: ‘The life of the people is basically a chaocosm [mixture of ‘chaos’ and ‘cosmos’; Yanakiev gives an interpretation of the term, quoting A.F. Lossev] (10–11). … The perfect human type is the man of wisdom (11). … The life of human beings is a constant convulsion, a constant and polymorphous anger against the world and in the world (15). … As we mentioned at the beginning [sc. of the book], the human being is fatally situated between two extremes. He cannot entirely relax himself in the uncontrollable turmoil of passion. On the other hand, he is fated from the outset never to achieve perfection. The human is not a logos, and he is not a hthon [sic] either, but life is stronger than him (41ff.). … Meditation as a kind of eros, eros as a kind of meditation. The soul loses itself in a self-oblivion (78f.). … The artist listens to himself, he is always lost in thought, his sensors are always directed inside him. Something deep in his soul pulls him constantly inside. There, deep inside, something always bothers him, keeps his attention. The artist focuses. And exactly at the moment of the deepest concentration, when the artist has forgotten the outer world, when he is completely lost in self-oblivion, when his soul collapses within itself, exactly at this extreme moment the image flashes. The act of focusing becomes an act of hallucination (86). … Something is always there. But at the same time, what is there? It doesn't belong to any kind known to us … It is impossible. It is a deepest sinking into itself, voiceless, faceless, collapse, closure (96).

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Where was he therefore? On the side of totalitarianism through his search for a political constitution in which the status of ‘king’ and ‘ruler’ is reserved for ‘those who know how to rule’? On the side of the critics of totalitarianism, through his famous unmasking of ignorance through irony, or his declaration that ‘kings and rulers are not those who hold the sceptre’, nor ‘those who are chosen by the multitude … nor those on whom the lot falls … nor those who owe their power to force or deception’? The answer is in the question itself. Weak or strong, sociable or isolated, the totalitarian Socrates gave to his world the art of questioning, the art of doubting and unbelief – the art, that is to say, of being free when freedom was lacking, of being Socratic in a non-Socratic world.

Refere nces Balabanov, A. (1925), Phaedo (Phaedon ili za dushata) (Classical Library 2), Sofia: Darjavna pechatnitza. Bogdanov, B. (1989), History of Ancient Greek Culture (Istoriya na starogratzkata kultura), Sofia: Nauka i Izkustvo. Bogdanov, B. (1999), ‘Classical education in Bulgaria’ (‘Klasicheskoto obrazovanie v Bulgaria’), Prometheus 1: 9–13. Boyadziev, T. (1987), The social idea of the scholar (sotzialnata predstava za uchenia), in T. Boyadjiev, K. Petkova and P. Boyadjieva (eds), The social idea of the scholar: the background of an ideal (Sotzialnata predstava za uchenia: Osnovaniyata na edin ideal), Sofia: Nauka i Izkustvo. Chamoux, F. (1979), Greek Civilization (Gratzkata civilazacia, tr. of La Civilization greque à l’époque archaique et classique, Paris: Artaud, 1963), Sofia: Balgarski Hudojnik. Donkov, R. (1999), ‘The nationalized University (1944–1949)’ (‘Natzionaliziraniyat universitet’), in M. Radeva, R. Donkov, L. Ogniyanov, M. Lalkov, T. Popnedelev and A. Kochankova (eds), The University (Universitetat), Sofia: University of Sofia. El’vova, V.A. (ed.) (1985), A Garden Library: ancient, medieval and renaissance writers on books, reading and bibliophilia (Biblioteka v sadu. Pisateli antichnosti, srednevekoviya i Vozrojdenia o knige, chtenii, bibliofil'stve), Moscow: Kniga. Gasparov, M. L. (tr.) (1979), Diogenes Laertius, Lives, Doctrines and Sayings of the Philosophers (Diogen Laertskiy, O jizni, ucheniyah i izrecheniyah philosophov, Misl’), Moscow: Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R., Institute of Philosophy (Philosophskoe nasledie, AN SSSR). Golubtzova, E.S. (ed.) (1988), History of Europe (Istoriya Evropi) 1. Ancient Europe, Moscow: Nauka (Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R.). Ierman, K. (1988a), ‘Philosophy and politics: studies on the structure and problems of Plato’s idealism. Analysis of methodology’ (‘Philosophia i politika: issledovania v oblasti strukturi i problematiki platonovskogo idealizma. Analiz metodologii’), Method and Methodology in the study of ancient cultures: the cultures of Classical Greece in

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foreign publications (Metodika i metodologia izuchenia antichnoi kul’tura klassicheskoi Gretzii v zarubejnih issleovaniah), Moscow: Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R., Social Sciences Institute. Ierman, K. (1988b), ‘The philosopher in politics’ (‘Philosoph v politike’), in Method and Methodology in the study of ancient cultures: the cultures of Classical Greece in foreign publications (Metodika i metodologia izuchenia antichnoi kul’tura klassicheskoi Gretzii v zarubejnih issleovaniah), Moscow: Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R., Social Sciences Institute. Mihailov, G. et al. (tr. and comm.) (1979–90), Plato, Dialogues (Platon Dialozi), 4 vols, Sofia: Nauka i Izkustvo. (Vol. 1, G. Mihailov and B. Bogdanov, 1979; vol. 2, G. Mihailov, 1981; vol. 3, A. Milev; vol. 4, T. Boyadjiev, B. Bogdanov, D. Markovska, G. Mihailov, 1990). Mihailov, M. and Bogdanov, B. (tr. and comm.) (1982), Plato, Selected Dialogues (Izbrani dialozi), Sofia: Nauka i Izkustvo. Mirchev, M. (tr.) (1942), Xenophon, Anabasis, Sofia: Bulgarska Kniga. Mirchev, M. and Stefanov, R. (trs) (1984), Xenophon, Historical Works (Istoricheski sachinenia), Sofia: Nauka i Izkustvo. Molchanov, M. (tr.) (1941), Xenophon, Anabasis, book 1, Sofia: Pechatnitza Dobrinov. Murigina, N.F. (1967), ‘On some problems in Bulgarian historiography concerning the social structure and development of the Roman provinces of Moesia and Dacia’ (‘Problemi razvitiya obshestvennogo stroiya rimskih provintziy Phrakii i Moezii v sovremennoi bolgarskoi istoriographii’), Vaprosi istoriographii, Uchoenie zapiski, 275: 3–25. Natunewicz, C. (2000), ‘Classical studies in central and eastern Europe’, The Sarmatian Review 20.2; http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~sarmatia/400/natunewicz.html. Nikolova, A. (ed.) (1985), Aulus Gellius Noctes Atticae, tr. V. Atanasov, Sofia: Nauka i Izkustvo. Plato (1941), Platonis Apologia Socratis, Criton, Phaedon (Bibliotheca Graeca et Latina 12), Sofia: T. Ph. Chipev (Knigoizdatelstvo T. Ph. Chipev). Radev, R. (ed.) (1988), Ancient Philosophy (Antichna filosofia), Sofia: Nauka i Izkustvo. Rossius, A. A. (1988), ‘The problem of equality in the philosophy and politics of the earlier period’ (‘Problema ravenstva v philosophii i politike rannego perioda’), in Method and methodology in the study of ancient culture: the cultures of Classical Greece in foreign publications (Metodika i metodologia izuchenia antichnoi kul’tura klassicheskoi Gretzii v zarubejnih issleovaniah), Moscow: Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R., Social Sciences Institute. Russell, D.A. (tr.) (1996), Libanius. Imaginary Speeches, London: Duckworth. Stefanov, R. (tr.) (1985), Xenophon Socratika (Sokraticheski sachinenia), Sofia: Narodna Kultura. Sventzitzkaiya, I.S. (ed.) (1982), History of the Ancient World 2. Flourishing of the Ancient Societies (Istoriya drevnego mira. Pastzvet drevnih obshestv), Moscow: Glavnaya redaktzia vostochnoi literaturi / Nauka (Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R.). Tacheva, M., Danov, A., and Stancheva, V. (eds) (1980), Short Historical Manual, I. The Ancient World (Kratak istoricheski spravochnik, I. Stariyat Sviyat), Sofia: Narodna Prosveta.

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Tomov, R. (tr.) (1985), Diogenis Laertii, De clarorum philosophorum vitis (Diogen Laertziy, Jivotat na philosophite), Sofia: Narodna Kultura. Tomov, T. (1999), ‘The struggle of Socrates with the shadows (the skiamachia of Socrates)’ (‘Borbata na Sokrat sas senkite [skiamachia-ta na Sokrat]’), Thracia Antiqua 10 (Studia in memoriam Magistri Prof. George Mihailov): 67–70. Vorontzov, V. (1976), Symphony of Wisdom (Symphonia razuma), Moscow: Molodaya Gvardiya. Yanakiev, K. (1988), Ancient Greek Culture – problems of philosophy and mythology (Drevnogratzkata kultura – problemi na philosophiata i mitologiata), Sofia: University of Sofia St. Kliment Ohridski.

Fig. 10.1 The prison of Socrates; from Platonis Apologia Socratis 1941.

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Fig. 10.2 The face of Socrates; from Tacheva et al. 1980.

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Fig. 10.3 The face of Socrates; from Vorontzov 1976.

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Fig. 10.4 The face of Socrates; from Chamoux 1979.

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Fig. 10.5 The face of Socrates; from El’vova 1985.

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11 ‘Gadfl y in God’ s Own Coun try’: Socrates in twen tie th -centu ry America * Melissa Lane Until the twentieth century the career of Socrates in European and American thought was quite distinct. In Europe, the eighteenth century had witnessed intellectual challenges to the role of religion, while the nineteenth century saw political struggles to widen the suffrage (to most working men in Britain in 1867, to the bourgeoisie in the continental revolutions of 1848). Socrates was invoked on both sides of those contests.1 Perhaps the most influential image of Socrates in both British and continental thought was that of the great English liberal historian of Athens, George Grote, who distinguished a free-thinking, sceptical and tolerant Socrates from the brilliant but incipiently tyrannical Plato: ‘Neither the Sokrates [sic] of the Platonic Apology, nor his negative Dialectic, could be allowed to exist in the Platonic Republic’.2 While questions of religion and suffrage did arise in the United States in these periods, they were subordinate there to other great convulsions in political and intellectual life. These revolved around independence and the terms of federalism (in the late eighteenth century) and slavery (in the nineteenth). And Socrates played a far lesser role in these two great American contests – the drama of independence and founding, and the tragedy of slavery and Civil War – than he did in the contemporaneous European debates.

* Thanks are due to Jo Maybin for research assistance; Michael Trapp for his good and generous counsel; and Mary Beard for helpful criticism in the course of publishing a precursor of this essay in the Times Literary Supplement (13 December 2002). 1 For aspects of this story, see Turner 1981, 264–321; Macgregor Morris in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment; and Lianeri in this volume. 2 Grote 1865, vol. 3, 240. See discussion of this ‘Grotean’ tradition in Lane 2001, 27–9.

From Socrates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, ed. M.B. Trapp. Copyright © 2007 by M.B. Trapp. Published by Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Gower House, Croft Road, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 3HR, UK. 205

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As self-conscious ‘founders’, the generation of 1789 were more interested in Plato’s political philosophy (and in Polybius, Cicero, Plutarch and Livy) than in Socrates as an individual character. In correspondence, Thomas Jefferson did defend Socrates against Plato, not for Grote’s later political reasons but out of distaste for Plato’s ‘mysticism’ and ‘foggy mind’, writing to John Adams that ‘Socrates had reason, indeed, to complain of the misrepresentations of Plato; for in truth, his dialogues are libels on Socrates’.3 But his acquittal of Socrates of the ‘puerilities [in Plato’s portrait of him] so unlike his character’ – to another correspondent – rested solely and vaguely on the testimony of all antiquity to his ‘superlative wisdom’.4 Jefferson did not enter deeply into the question of Socrates’ beliefs, character, or fate. Emerson, it is true, was deeply affected by Plato, as were some other Transcendentalists and also utopian socialists, and there were reading groups and publications devoted to Plato in the Midwest as well as in New England – yet none of these were particularly engaged with the figure of Socrates.5 In the South, put on the defensive with regard to slavery, it was Aristotle who played the largest role, his arguments for natural slavery, patriarchal power in the household, and organic society being enthusiastically mined. A few skirmishes set this conservative Aristotle against a Plato painted as a Northerner – indicting the latter for purported speculative abstractions and embrace of communism and promiscuity – but the genuine interest in Plato evinced here was slight.6 Socrates scarcely figured in these debates. From the late nineteenth century to the 1920s, however, American and European intellectuals converged on Socrates in relation to two major themes. The first was whether their maturing industrial civilizations were sustainable, or bankrupt. The grounds for the judgment were variously taken to be cultural (were the arts in danger from public philistinism?), ethical (was capitalism undermining moral authority? was advertising deluding consumers about their true wants and needs?), social (was social unity being undermined by individualism and materialism?) and political (how far could mass democracy adequately respond to any of these challenges?). On such 3

Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 5 July 1814, repr. in Jefferson 1999, 42–4; quotations from 43, 43, and 44 respectively. 4 Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 4 August 1820, repr. in Jefferson 1999, 401–5; all quotations from 402. 5 On the less well known case of the Midwest, see Anderson 1963. 6 See Wish 1949, though Wish dwells far more on the Southerners’ reliance on Aristotle than on their disparagement of Plato, and the evidence he offers for the latter is in all but one case quite mild. The fiercest and most cogent Southern defender of slavery, George Fitzhugh, treats Plato’s hostility to money as an indication of his status as a ‘Social Reformer’ and his affinity to the socialist doctrines and communities rampant in the North: see Fitzhugh 1982, 207. Ironically, Southern conservatives overlooked the tacit acceptance of slavery in Plato’s writings, choosing instead to contrast him with Aristotle, perhaps because Plato had already been captured by the New England Transcendentalists.

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issues, what Jefferson had excoriated as Plato’s ‘mysticism’ – his idealism and otherworldly aspirations – came into its own, among writers seeking to re-establish cultural and moral values for (or against) a mass age. And Socrates was invoked, especially by the American New Humanists, as a timeless moral exemplar. The second broad theme in which Socrates figured in both America and Europe in the twentieth century was as a political exemplar in relation to democracy. Among writers oriented primarily to European politics, it was between the 1920s and 1940s that the question of whether Socrates or Plato had been a democrat – or a fascist, or a communist – was most urgently asked. And the typical answer among those influenced by Grote – not only the English, but also the Austrian classicists whose work shaped the inimitable expression of it by Karl Popper in his 1945 The Open Society and Its Enemies7 – was that Socrates was a true democrat, whereas Plato was a proto-fascist. A few Marxists tried to rebut this argument by casting Socrates, Plato and Aristotle all as reactionary enemies of the progressive classes of their day.8 The Marxist picture of the reactionary Socrates popped up occasionally in the United States, but far more pervasive there was the democratic Socrates. Yet the American debates about democracy in which he figured were not primarily those of the WWII era about fascism, but those of the Cold War and the subsequent upheavals in domestic politics. Three crises in particular saw widespread appeal to a refashioned figure of Socrates: McCarthyism, civil rights, and the war in Vietnam. In striking contrast to European precedents, where both the radical utilitarian John Stuart Mill and the cultural conservative Matthew Arnold could in a single generation claim Socrates as their hero, in postwar American debates Socrates was virtually always invoked on a single side. Thus, he was cast as a resister of McCarthyism; an advocate of black civil rights; and a protester against the Vietnam war – in the last two cases also as a civil disobedient when necessary to defend higher constitutional or moral values. These episodes in the reception of Socrates have left an indelible mark on American scholarship on Socrates and Plato to this day. Defe ndi ng ‘ huma nis m’ The moral crisis of Western industrial and democratic societies had been diagnosed before the twentieth century began. Attempts to heal modernity from within competed for the attention of nineteenth-century readers with attempts to overturn it and return to ancient or medieval values. In Europe, 7

On the influence of Theodor and Heinrich Gomperz (themselves influenced by Mill and Grote) on Popper’s view of Plato, see Hacohen 2000, 149–50; see also the note on this in Lane 2001, 153–4. 8 For an attack on Socrates inspired by Marxism, see Winspear and Silverberg 1939.

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Plato and Socrates were celebrated by some (such as Coleridge) as the source of an idealist philosophy which could salve a society scarred by materialism and empiricism; by others (such as Nietzsche) they were indicted as the progenitors of that very same idealism, seen as a desiccating and deceptive betrayal of healthy affirmation of the world as it is. But Nietzsche’s own emphasis on the role of Socrates did not carry over into the passionate debates about his philosophy after his death. For some, such as Martin Heidegger, Plato and Platonism mattered far more than Socrates; for others, less affected by the Nietzschean problematics than was Heidegger, Socrates remained the familiar Grotean democrat. Meanwhile European arguments over the nature and value of modernity were traumatically reshaped by the Great War, the reeling recovery of the 1920s, and the rise first of Mussolini and then of Hitler. America was not untouched by the reception of Nietzsche, but it was largely insulated from the cultural (as distinct from the social) dislocations engendered in Europe by the War. Instead the debates about culture were generated primarily by the expansion of higher education and its remodelling along elective lines (for undergraduates) and the German system of seminars and doctorates (for postgraduates). This was what prompted the self-declared ‘humanist’ polemic of the University of Chicago Plato scholar Paul Shorey. Shorey was one of the first wave of Americans in the last quarter of the nineteenth century to seek a German doctorate (awarded in his case in Munich in 1884). He later stirred controversy about the value of such doctorates with an article in the Nation in May 1911 which self-consciously continued the Emersonian case for the distinctively ‘American’ scholar, who would ‘harmonize the aims of culture and scholarship’, and to this end he criticized the unthinking adulation of German universities which led to a devaluing of what he took to be the increasingly more rigorous American doctoral programmes.9 But while urging the merits of American classicists, his broader point was that classical scholarship in itself was valuable in part because it was the source of genuinely valuable cosmopolitanism. The other recurrent theme in Shorey’s aggressive defense of the classics was his claim that only humanist learning can engender true culture. He 9

He reiterated these thoughts in 1919 in an address to the American Philological Association, one which has to my mind been seriously mischaracterized by classicist historiographer William M. Calder III, as an ‘hysterical racist harangue’ (Calder 1995, 410). So far is Shorey there from racism that he states: ‘The Germans were in fact our teachers, and, whatever the passion of our political convictions, most of us retain our admiration for the industry and organization of German scholarship, and cherish pleasant memories of our discipleship’ (Shorey 1919, 43). He does engage in detailed criticism of current German scholarship, but the tone of the text overall supports his claim that his motive in so doing is only to ‘establish a tradition of the independence of American scholarship’ (Shorey 1919, 44).

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engaged in vociferous battles about curriculum reform in high schools and universities, at a time when Greek was disappearing from public schools and losing the battle for students at the university level. Shorey’s argument was that while science and Latin (or classical learning) need not be incompatible, Latin and Greek were being squeezed out of the curriculum by what he called the ‘pseudo-science’ of educational psychology. He mocked the crass and unthinking utilitarianism which could see in Western society (as exHarvard President Charles William Eliot had done) only the doctrine of the ‘sanctity of contracts’ or the military advances of the Great War.10 For Shorey, a commercial and contractarian society was as bad as a society which would devote itself to producing the destructive weapons of war – indeed, bereft of humanist values, they were become the same society. Despite laying claim to the mantle of humanism, and despite the commonality of many of their concerns, Shorey never adhered to the contemporaneous group of ‘New Humanists’ who clustered around Irving Babbitt and Paul Elmer More, although in published remarks he was relatively sympathetic to them. For both of the New Humanist leaders, Socrates and Plato were fundamental to their humanism, though neither of them (unlike Shorey) was a professionally trained classicist. Both had studied oriental and classical languages at Harvard, but neither chose to pursue the doctorate. Babbitt taught in the Departments of Romance Languages and Literature and of Comparative Literature at Harvard from 1894 until his death; More taught Sanskit and classical literature at Bryn Mawr, left academe to become literary editor of the Nation, and even when eventually lured to Princeton to teach Greek and patristic philosophy, was excused from the bureaucratic tedium of the normal academic routine.11 But for More in particular, Socrates and Plato were at the heart of his humanist commitments, and it was an intense engagement with Platonism which led him to accept Christianity as a symbolic myth true to the facts of human experience.12 The high point of More’s New Humanism was expressed in the eleven volumes of ‘Shelburne Essays’ published between 1904 and 1921. Essays devoted to Socrates and Plato, separated by More’s translation of Plato’s Apology of Socrates, appeared in the sixth series (1909) entitled ‘Studies in Religious Dualism’.13 Here, even before his overt commitment to Christianity, More dwelt on the way in which Socrates’ exemplary life and Plato’s dualistic philosophy could play the role of ‘religion’ for modern 10

Shorey 1917, 17; on ‘pseudo-science’ see 51 and passim. Hoeveler 1977, 11. 12 Hoeveler 1977, 162–3, 173. 13 The essay on Socrates was a reprint of the introduction to More’s The Judgement of Socrates (1898), which also contained the translation of the Apology reprinted in the Shelburne Essays sixth series together with translations of the Crito and the closing scene of the Phaedo (Dakin 1960, 108 n.71). 11

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searchers hungry for a taste of the eternal.14 At this point in his life More found Socrates a better moral exemplar than that of the ‘historic error of Christianity’ (though even in his later enthusiasm for Christianity he would never become a full adherent): ‘I can speak only of what I know, and for me, as one deceptive hope after another has fallen away, I go back to the life of Socrates and the reasoning of Plato and am never deceived’.15 In his essay on Plato he explained the value of Socrates for religion thus: ‘In the early [Platonic] dialogues which tell the story of Socrates’ trial and death we have the perfect record, – clearer, I am constrained to think, and less mixed with dubious elements than the Gospels, – of the religious sense in practice’.16 In thinking in such terms about the relative value of Socrates and Plato versus Christianity, More set himself a problematic broadly similar to that of Nietzsche. The similarity was one of which he was himself conscious. The eighth series of Shelburne Essays, titled ‘The Drift of Romanticism’, included an essay on Nietzsche (as well as one on Walter Pater, whose this-worldly Platonism More rejected). It is of interest for the calm way in which More considers Nietzsche’s views, acknowledging his sympathy with much of Nietzsche’s protest against the excesses of humanitarianism … [such as] the danger that threatens true progress in any system of education and government which makes the advantage of the ordinary rather than the distinguished man its first object.17

But he concluded that ‘the cure Nietzsche proposed for these evils was itself a part of the malady. The Superman … is a product of the same naturalism which produced the disease it would counteract …’.18 Nietzsche had sought to escape nihilism by means of the transvaluation of values, but More found this to amount merely to a ‘devaluation’ (a term he claimed to coin) collapsing back into nihilism itself.19 All that Nietzsche could offer was ‘the will to endure the vision of endless, purposeless mutation’20 – but this was no satisfaction for the soul yearning, as More held all humans did, for something purposeful and eternal beyond the world of flux. Socrates in making man the measure of all things had sought just such a universal, contrary to the Sophists’ use of the formula to subordinate judgement to flux and individual variety. So More had contended in his essay on Plato that the ‘rage of universal inquiry’ which the citizens of Athens (and, we might add,

14

More 1967a, 258. More 1967a, 247. 16 More 1967b, 326. 17 More 1967c, 183. 18 More 1967c, 184. 19 More 1967c, 187. 20 More 1967c, 188. 15

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Nietzsche) had condemned in Socrates, was unbeknownst to his critics in fact ‘the greatest affirmation and conservative force the world has known’.21 Though the politics of More’s Socrates were never clearly developed, his larger point was that all politics must be subordinate to the individual’s moral quest. Humanists should dedicate themselves primarily to the struggle for self-mastery rather than social improvement. Writing of the humanist schooled by Plato, More claimed that: [h]e will be no humanitarian, casting the responsibility of his sins upon some phantom perversion of society and looking for redemption to some equally phantom work of social sympathy. He will feel the compassion of the world; but he will be convinced that the fateful struggle for him, as for each man, lies within his own nature and is for the possession of himself.22

But More stopped short of a Nietzschean anti-democratic conclusion from this point just as he rejected Nietzsche’s attack on traditional religion. Instead More avowed allegiance to democracy, and was forced to ask how Socrates could have stood aside ‘when the voice and arm of every good man was needed to save the constitution, nay, even the very existence of the State’ – referring to the oligarchic revolution against democracy in Athens in 404/03 B.C. His answer for Socrates was that he had felt his power and his vocation to lie in his relations with individuals, not in public affairs, and had known himself too honest to survive in the latter arena.23 His answer for America was not ‘more democracy’ but ‘better democracy’, which meant in turn democracy tempered by aristocracy in recognizing the value of exceptional character above the mere ‘raising of the material welfare of the masses’.24 This unabashed partisanship for aristocracy was shared by Babbitt in his Democracy and Leadership (1924) and contributed to the controversy surrounding the New Humanist movement which peaked in 1930 with public discussion in Carnegie Hall and books expounding and attacking the movement.25 More’s Socrates did not seek out public affairs or political participation. He acted politically only when such action was forced upon him: Yet when political duties devolved on him unsought, he never shirked, and courageously opposed both the fury of the people and the despotism of the Thirty. As a soldier he served through two campaigns, and on both occasions gave signal proof of his fortitude and bravery.26 21

More 1967b, 332. More 1967b, 355. 23 More 1967a, 263. 24 More 1967d, as quoted in Hoeveler 1977, 132; Hoeveler 1977, 136, draws the ‘more democracy/better democracy’ contrast from H.L. Mencken. 25 Hoeveler 1977, 25–6. 26 More 1967a, 263; More is relying (for Socrates’ bravery in battle) on Alcibiades’ speech in Plato’s Symposium (219e–220e) and (for his resistance to pressure from the demos and from the 22

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This remark contains a kernel of the thought that Socrates would resist injustice when confronted with it, a thought which would inspire Mahatma Gandhi and, as we shall see, the Americans who claimed Socratic inspiration in protesting the violation of black civil rights and the violent war in Vietnam. But it is remarkable that More hardly ever mentioned Socrates’ trial and execution. He ranged himself firmly with those lovers of Socrates more inspired by aspects of his life (with the likes of Montaigne and Rousseau) as opposed to those captivated primarily by the spectacle of his trial and death (such as Justin Martyr or Robespierre). It was the spectacle of other trials – the trials and hearings of alleged Communists and Communist sympathizers inflicted on the American nation in the early 1950s by Senator Joseph McCarthy – which brought the latter aspects of Socrates to the forefront of later twentieth-century American minds. Mc Cart hyism The trial of Socrates is unfinished. When disloyalty or heresy is charged today, the prosecutor’s words are different from those used by Meletus [one of the citizen-prosecutors of Socrates], but … the issues are unchanged.

So declared John D. Montgomery – a professor who had been Allied Consultant to the Hiroshima City Reconstruction Planning Board – in his introduction to a pointed 1954 collection of essays on The State versus Socrates: A Case Study in Civic Freedom. Montgomery divided the volume into four sections. • ‘The Background of the Case’ (consisting of excerpts from Werner Jaeger and the same Paul Elmer More essay on Socrates which we have been considering) • ‘The Case for the Prosecution’, including among others, excerpts from the Marxists Alban D. Winspear and Thomas Silverberg, from Grote, and from Nietzsche • ‘The Case for the Defense’, including not only Popper, Jaeger, Zeller, and others, but also – making Montgomery’s sentiments clear – Plato’s Apology printed under the title ‘The Pious Citizen’ • ‘The Appeal to History’, featuring among others British historian Arnold J. Toynbee on Socrates and Jesus, and John Stuart Mill’s famous panegyric to Socrates in On Liberty

In his introduction to the collection, Montgomery made explicit his conviction that the ‘unparalleled influence [of Socrates] cannot be explained in terms of his life alone’. He rejected the claim that Socrates was a profound religious prophet and concluded that ‘[n]either his virtues nor his

Thirty) on Socrates’ speech in Plato’s Apology (32b–d).

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achievements offer a clue to his greatness’.27 It was instead ‘the tragic end of Socrates which provided the timeless element in this heroic myth’.28 Strikingly, unlike later Americans who would valorize the idea of Socrates as in some way resistant to unjust laws, Montgomery’s emphasis lay almost entirely on the idea of Socrates as victim. It was the fact that Socrates for the first time symbolized sacrifice which captivated him, for he said somberly that such sacrifices are repeatedly required. ‘Moloch can never be satisfied’.29 And so ‘the trial of Socrates is unfinished’ – wherever ‘disloyalty or heresy is charged today’, the tragedy is destined to be repeated.30 Montgomery drew several political lessons from this casting of Socrates as paradigmatic victim of prejudice and intolerance. First, he noted that the vagueness of the charges against Socrates were contrary to the theory of civic freedom, which demands compelling reasons for and tightly specified restrictions on any silencing of free speech – a clear reference to the vagueness of McCarthyite innuendo. Second, he diagnosed psychological and intellectual insecurity as the source of McCarthyism. Fear, uncertainty, and intellectual desperation had provided the spiritual basis of Socrates’ persecution, just as they yield today only intellectual insecurity and intolerance. America, standing at the zenith of its power and influence, seems to pause uncertainly: some of her citizens find it necessary to defend her traditions with a fanaticism and intolerance reminiscent of the Athenian jurors.31

And third, he appealed to ‘the spiritual bases of Western unity’ as contrasted with the concentration of Western material power – a contrast which would have appealed to More, except that Montgomery links it to the direct political need to withstand the abridgement of freedom and the trampling of ‘individual moral values’. The very survival of the present way of life of the West, he concludes, ‘requires that we refrain from a second and even more disastrous verdict against Socrates’.32 Montgomery was not the first to invoke Socrates against McCarthy. Socrates had already appeared as a hero of free speech on the 3 May 1953 broadcast of You Are There, a programme penned pseudonymously by blacklisted writers.33 And playwright Maxwell Anderson had even earlier 27

Montgomery 1954b, 4–5, both preceding quotations from p.5. Montgomery 1954b, 5. 29 Montgomery 1954b, 5. 30 Montgomery 1954b, 6. 31 Montgomery 1954b, 15. 32 Montgomery 1954b, 15. 33 You Are There was a CBS series directed by Sidney Lumet, investigating major ethical and political crises in history, which drew on several blacklisted writers writing under front names. The episode, ‘The Death of Socrates: 399 B.C.’, was written by Arnold Manoff under the front name of Kate Nickerson, and broadcast on 3 May 1953. 28

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presented Socrates in his 1951 play Barefoot in Athens as a proponent of free speech within democracy.34 Anderson took pains to establish his anti-communist credentials in the play as in his life (on which see below). But the playwright also considered himself a champion of free speech.35 Barefoot in Athens can be seen as an attempted reconciliation of his anti-Communism with his commitment to the First Amendment by fashioning a Socrates who combines both. Socrates is presented as a democrat opposed to Communism in a wholly imagined scene of argument with the Spartan king Pausanias, whom Anderson makes a proto-Communist claiming that at least the Spartans don’t let poor men starve.36 With Socrates’s anti-Communist credentials established, the play can move on to its principal purpose, which is to rebut McCarthyism not in its view of Communism (which Anderson largely accepted)37 but in its claim that free thinking and free speech threaten national cohesion, even national existence. In Anderson’s trial scene, such a McCarthyite claim is framed by one of Socrates’ accusers thus: 34

The play was a stage flop, but was filmed for television by George Schaefer (broadcast in 1966, with Peter Ustinov as Socrates). This television version was later released and widely distributed as an educational video by Films for the Humanities (Princeton, New Jersey, 1978, re-released 1983). 35 Although, as discussed below, he defended elements of the anti-Communist crusade in letters to friends and accepted them in his public behaviour, he had earlier (1948) signed a letter sent by the National Institute of Arts and Letters protesting investigations by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. See Avery 1977, 257 n.5 (comment by the editor of the letters). 36 Anderson 1952, 38 (Act I, Scene 3). The contest between political rights and freedom on the one hand, and economic and social rights on the other, was a staple of Cold War discourse in which both sides claimed superior merit. 37 Writing to Elmer Rice on 13 February 1952, Anderson made his view of Communism clear: ‘you [Rice] believe our local Communists to be acceptable citizens, while I believe them to be enemy agents, engaged in wrecking us from within’ (as published in Avery 1977, 256; see also the further quotation from this letter below). Anderson’s anti-Communism had also been shaped by his tour of Greece with the production of his ‘Joan of Lorraine’ in 1947, when he was made a member of the Greek Dramatist Guild (Avery 1968, 137–8). He wrote five articles on the Greek civil war for the New York Herald Tribune, of which two were published with subsequent letters to the editor. Anderson’s interpretation of the war was summed up in his letter to the Tribune on 9 January 1948 stating: ‘a victory for the Communist guerrillas in Macedonia would be a disaster for all free men’ (Avery 1977, 218–21, quoting from p.218) and reiterated in a letter to the Atlantic Monthly on 30 August 1948 (Avery 1977, 223–4). While in Athens he had promised (as he later recounted) to ‘'try to write a play about Athens, for the Athenians’ (Avery 1977, 246): that was the play about Socrates which he began to think about in June 1948 (originally to be called Socrates in the Round, a title which one manuscript leaves standing with Athens in Shadow and Barefoot in Athens crossed out: Avery 1968, 51). He offered ‘Barefoot in Athens’ to Athenian director Theodore Kritas (who was eager but unable to organise a production) before offering it to his own Playwrights Company in New York (Avery 1968, 138).

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This little question-and-answer game which you play at the bidding of Apollo, this game is not so harmless as you pretend! It’s a murderous weapon, this little game! You point it at patriotism and it degenerates into treason! You point it at a soldier and he begins to wonder why he should fight for his country! You turn it on morals and the robber begins to look like the honest man! You turn it on the gods and suddenly the gods are puppets that some fool imagined…38

And when Socrates asks, ‘Is it corruption to examine into the conditions of life?’39 Lycon erupts: ‘No belief will bear examination! Life will not bear it! A tree cannot live if you look at its roots!’ Socrates’ response is that these are convenient beliefs for a tyrant, but: ‘The evidence will not destroy a free city, Lycon. Far from destroying it, the truth will make and keep it free! A despotism dies of the truth, a democracy lives by it!’40 But although sharing Montgomery’s later fascination with Socrates’ death as a model for victims of McCarthyism, Anderson also took pains to show a Socrates who resisted injustice in life as well as suffering it in death. He invented a scene between Socrates and Critias – leader of the tyrannical junta ‘The Thirty’ in 404/03 and close friend of Socrates in previous years – in which Critias personally orders Socrates to sit in judgment on Leon of Salamis, who has supposedly disobeyed the Thirty.41 Anderson’s Critias makes explicit that the order is designed as a test for Socrates: if he obeys, he will be part of the government; if he disobeys, Critias may not be able to protect him from falling victim to just such an arbitrary trial. Socrates says that he must refuse, as urged by the god or demon who advises him, and because he has always said that it is better to suffer injustice than to commit it. Finally, Anderson stages a confrontation with the charge that it was Socrates’ own teaching which inspired the betrayal by Critias, Charmides (another of the Thirty) and Alcibiades (an earlier traitor to Athens) of Athenian democracy – all three of them close friends of Socrates in earlier years. Socrates demands of Critias how he could have listened to his teachings (recall that Anderson has carefully burnished Socrates’ patriotic credentials before this point) and then betrayed the city. Critias retorts, ‘Whatever I believe you taught me!’ He goes on to demand of Socrates whether the latter has ever found anything sure in all his searching – and when Socrates replies, ‘Nothing sure, worse luck’, Critias concludes, ‘Then why not murder, why not rob, why not take what you can get where you find it?’ The response by Anderson’s Socrates is quite interesting. Rather than 38

Anderson 1952, 59–60. Anderson 1952, 60. 40 Anderson 1952, 60. 41 Plato’s Apology (32c–d) and Xenophon’s Memorabilia (4.4.3) mention Socrates’ refusal to arrest Leon, without specifying that Critias himself had given him an order; Anderson changes the order from that of arresting Leon to that of participating in a kangaroo court to sentence him. 39

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invoking an absolute moral value as one imagines More’s Socrates would do, he clings to his dialectical method: But while we are at it, Critias, should we not also question the value of murder, the value of blood-money, the value of high office in the state illegally attained, before we destroy all we have to possess them? 42

Critias stalks out, ordering a Spartan slave to kill Socrates if he goes anywhere but to the Senate. A year after the play’s brief run, Anderson drew on his vision of Socrates to defend himself against colleagues who saw his personal refusal to work with known Communists as blacklisting, and other aspects of his conduct as objectionably craven. His friend Elmer Rice had attempted to invoke Socrates in order to shame Anderson for his anti-Communist zeal. In a letter of 13 February 1952, Anderson sought to rebut Rice’s view of Socrates in order to defend the claim that the right of free association allows him to shun working with Communists: I have never accused anybody of being a Communist, but I reserve the right, as any free man must, of choosing my associates and steering clear of what looks to me like traitorous company. Your mention of Socrates is apropos here. Socrates maintained the right of anybody to speculate and converse on any subject. He did not defend those who betrayed their country. You are actively defending Alcibiades and his sell-out to Persia. The Communists are not questioning, philosophizing or speculating. They are agents of a foreign power 43 who wish to defeat us and set that power over us.

Anderson saw Socrates (and by implication himself) not as selling out in opposing treachery of a Communist kind, but as defending democracy as well as free speech. In being presented as so ostentatiously democratic, Anderson’s Socrates stood in the Grotean line of treating Socrates as a democrat which had already informed so many discussions of him.44 But a later American writer would invert this claim: the iconoclastic muckraker I.F. Stone, who taught himself Greek in old age in order to argue in his The Trial of Socrates (Stone 1988) that Socrates with his oligarchical associates had in fact betrayed the ideals of Athenian democracy. (Stone added however that Athens had in turn betrayed its own free-speech ideals by condemning him to death.) 45 And Stone’s view appears to have inspired an essay posted on a libertarian website – ‘Socrates had it coming’ by Martin Lindstedt of 42

Anderson 1952, 28, for all quotations in this paragraph. As published in Avery 1977, 255–6. 44 A significant immediate influence on Anderson’s portrayal seems to have been Popper’s Open Society (1945), which prompted a revision of his draft of Barefoot in April 1951 (Avery 1968, 139; Shivers 1983, 237), and which echoes in the preface to the published edition (Anderson 1951, x–xi and xiv). 45 On Stone and (discussed below) Vlastos, see Schofield 2002. 43

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Granby, Missouri – which claims that Socrates provoked his own death to undermine Athens’ ‘moral legitimacy’. For Stone, breaking with the Grotean tradition at last, the distinction between a democratic Socrates and an undemocratic Plato could not hold. Lindstedt appears in effect to concur. He lists Socrates alongside Plato as ‘big government butt-kissers’.46 Civil diso be die nc e: ci vil rig hts a nd Vie tna m It is curious to find Socrates cast in Lindstedt’s libertarian website as an antidemocratic stooge of the state. For Americans have more often invoked him in conjunction with someone seen as a forefather of libertarian resistance to the state, Henry David Thoreau (1817–62). Thoreau was the protégé of transcendentalist Concord, who declared himself a denizen of the woods in order to write the fiercely epigrammatic Walden, a classic of American individualist literature (1854). But it was his writings against slavery, above all his shrewdly polemical 1848 lecture recounting the night he spent in jail for having refused to pay the taxes that would support the federal government’s aggressive war against Mexico, republished in 1866 as ‘Civil Disobedience’, which became a key source for Mahatma Gandhi during his formative years in South Africa. And after Mahatma Gandhi drew on Thoreau in formulating his policy of civil disobedience for Indians in South Africa, Americans in their turn came to elevate Socrates, Thoreau and Gandhi into a trio of patron saints of civil disobedience. A pacifist letter to a local draft board in 1967, expressing a refusal to serve in Vietnam, invoked the three of them as more general models as well. Having named them, it concluded: ‘The world would have lost much if these men had not seen fit to become impractical idealists and nuisances to their societies’.47 Martin Luther King Jr. – who would choose Plato’s Republic as his desert island book in a 1965 interview with Playboy48 – was one of those who drew fundamental inspiration from this trio in the struggle against injustice. Writing from Birmingham city jail in 1963, he invoked Socrates to show that a certain kind of mental and social tension was necessary for growth – so that tension should not be avoided at all costs, and especially not at the cost of injustice. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must see the need of having non-violent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that 46

Lindstedt 1996 (no pagination); the website declares itself as ‘Patrick Henry On-Line: Your One-Stop Shopping for Sedition’ (http://users.mo-net.com/mlindste/index.html, last checked 23 November 2005). 47 Boardman 1969, 182. 48 King 1986c, 370.

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will help men to rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.49

King also called on Socrates to establish that such tension had had good results in the past, noting both in 1961 and in 1963 that ‘[t]o a degree academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practised civil disobedience’.50 And against those who – like some ‘liberal’ white Alabama ministers – would blame the non-violent protesters for the violent reactions they precipitated, King thundered: ‘Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical delvings precipitated the misguided popular mind to make him drink the hemlock?’51 Socrates, Thoreau and Gandhi were similarly woven together in a powerful address by King’s friend and early comrade in the civil rights movement, Harris L. Wofford, Jr., to the Howard University School of Religion in 1957. Wofford claimed to have been the first to recommend Gandhian non-violence to American blacks (in a November, 1955, speech at the Hampton Institute several weeks before the Montgomery bus boycott began).52 Though a lawyer, Wofford argued that freedom and law could in extremis be reconciled only through peaceful civil disobedience. … I am arguing that under our social contract man is to be free, and that a free man should look on each law not as a command but as a question, for implicit in each law is the alternative of obedience or of respectful civil disobedience and full acceptance of the consequences. Once men no longer believe that they as good citizens must obey any law passed by the legislature, no matter how bad, then they must ask themselves of each law, Is this a law that I should obey? Is it a just law? Is it so unjust that it needs to be resisted from the very inception, and cannot wait the slow process of parliamentary reform? This choice we always have to make. It is the choice which makes us free. I am talking about the freedom which Socrates felt on that morning when, having refused to obey the law abridging his freedom of speech but also refusing to evade the law by escaping from Athens, he peacefully drank the hemlock.53

To the objection that this threatened civil order, Wofford replied caustically that in an age of ‘monster bureaucracies’ the danger would never be severe. ‘The leviathans … need have no fear of being stung too often, for the

49

King 1986b, 291. The reference to ‘gadflies’ was of course a direct reference to Plato’s Apology (30e) in which Socrates imagines himself a gadfly sent to prick the noble but sluggish horse of Athens. On King’s debt to classical learning and his appeal to Socrates in particular, see West 2000, who discusses the passages considered here. 50 King 1986a, 50; King 1986b, 294. 51 King 1986b, 295. 52 Wofford (1969 [1957–58]), 63; on Thoreau, 62. 53 Wofford (1969 [1957–58]), 66.

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gadflies who will willingly go to jail to make their point are normally not so numerous’.54 But had Socrates really ever been civilly disobedient? As the Vietnam war expanded and opposition to it sprang up (including King himself, who when excoriated for mixing ‘peace and civil rights’ replied that he had been forced to practice segregation long enough55), this question was reopened. Contrary to Wofford’s claim above that Socrates had refused to obey a law abridging his freedom of speech, the peculiarities of the Athenian legal system meant that he need not have broken a specific written law in order to be successfully prosecuted. Moreover, although Wofford invoked Socrates’ decision to stay in jail as the obedient completion of his civil disobedience, it is arguable that this should be seen simply as an act of obedience instead. Paul Elmer More had (perhaps too unperturbedly) affirmed this in passing, identifying Socrates with the ‘Laws’ of the Crito and so stating that Socrates ‘was a persistent advocate of submission to the laws and of obedience to authority …’.56 Charles E. Wyzanski – questioning civil disobedience against the Vietnam war – invoked Socrates similarly as an example not of disobedience but of obedience. Arguing that the English philosopher G.E. Moore had concluded that ‘in most instances civil disobedience is immoral’, Wyzanski claimed Socrates as a precursor of the same conclusion: ‘He swallowed hemlock pursuant to an arbitrary Athenian decree rather than refuse obedience to the law of the city-state which had formed and protected him’.57 The opacity in Socrates’ views here bolstered a few sceptics about his being used to justify civil disobedience, though none of those actively defending segregation or the war in Vietnam went so far as to appeal to him. And the question of whether Socrates was a progenitor of civil disobedience has preoccupied American scholars ever since.58 Phi los op hy and poli tics Two scholars who questioned whether Socrates was a model of civil disobedience also reflected over the course of their long careers on a deeper question inspired by him: whether philosophy can and should direct political 54

Wofford (1969 [1957–58]), both quotations from 68. King 1986d, 636. 56 More 1967a, 254. 57 Wyzanski 1969, 196. 58 For the Vietnam-era debate, see Woozley 1971; Dybikowski 1974; Vlastos 1974; Young 1974; McLaughlin 1976; and Barker 1977. More recently, see for example Colaiaco 2001. The great Plato scholar Gregory Vlastos’ own final thoughts – that his hero Socrates was not sufficiently committed to resisting injustice – were expressed in an address to a Berkeley graduating class in the 1980s: that Socrates’ commitment to resist injustice had not gone far enough in harmonizing the two concurrent claims of ‘the intellectual’s lonely search for truth and the corporate struggle for justice’ (Vlastos 1994, 133). 55

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engagement, and conversely whether politics is a danger to philosophy. This problematic of the city and philosophy – embodied in the life and death of Socrates – preoccupied both Hannah Arendt and Leo Strauss. Both of them were German Jews whose thought was formed by engagement with European philosophy before the traumas of the 1930s led them into exile and eventually to America. Their political and intellectual positions, though congruent at some points, were in many ways diametrically opposed. A rough contrast might state that Arendt celebrated the value of civic life as independent from philosophy, while Strauss sought simultaneously to protect philosophy from the city and the city from philosophy. But for both, the figure of Socrates invited more complex reflections on the nature and relationship of philosophical and civic life. It has been shown that Arendt’s views of Socrates changed in subtle but important ways in her various published and unpublished works, though these changes are not readily ordered by any teleological account.59 Being unable to detail this evolution here, we will confine ourselves to identifying two themes. The first, one to which Arendt frequently recurred, is that Socrates modelled the process of thinking, a process which she explained as one of inner dialogue seeking harmony with(in) oneself.60 But while Arendt took thinking to be essential to individual ethical action – famously diagnosing its absence in Adolf Eichmann as responsible for the ‘banality’ of the evil that he did – she insisted that individual ethics was not in principle an adequate basis for politics.61 Only in one circumstance could philosophical truth become relevant to politics without endangering the latter: ‘philosophical truth can become “practical” and inspire action without violating the rules of the political realm only when it manages to become manifest in the guise of an example’.62 This is what Socrates (and Jesus, and 59

Villa 2001, 246–78 on Arendt specifically; 246–98 (a chapter entitled ‘Hannah Arendt and Leo Strauss: citizenship versus philosophy’) comparing and contrasting Arendt and Strauss on Socrates. Villa himself is particularly interested (2001, 259–65) in Arendt’s unpublished essay ‘Philosophy and Politics’ which he takes to anticipate his own ideal of the ‘moderately alienated’ Socratic citizen. Villa remarks that the essay compares Socrates with Jesus and contrasts a democratic Socrates aiming at friendship through dialogue within oneself and with one’s fellow citizens, with a tyrannical Plato – though he fails to remark that both of these moves have a longstanding history in the reception of Socrates, the first going back to the early Christians, the second most famously to George Grote as noted above. 60 In ‘What is freedom’ (in Arendt 1968, 157), Arendt spoke of the ‘inner dialogue which, since Socrates, we call thinking’, though seeking to distinguish a conception of philosophical freedom founded on this view from properly political freedom; in ‘The crisis in culture’ (in Arendt 1968, 220), she noted that this ‘principle of agreement with oneself’ was discovered by Socrates and formulated by Plato thus: ‘Since I am one, it is better for me to disagree with the whole world than to be in disagreement with myself’. 61 On Eichmann, see Arendt 1963. 62 Arendt, ‘Truth and politics’, in Arendt 1968, 247–8. Interestingly, Arendt’s husband Heinrich Blücher was more unambiguously positive in asserting the relevance of thinking and

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St. Francis), achieved. ‘Socrates decided to stake his life on this truth [that it is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong] – to set an example, not when he appeared before the Athenian tribunal but when he refused to escape the death sentence’.63 Here, it was Socrates’ decision to accept the death sentence which enabled him to turn his personal moral choice and philosophical stance into a paradigm for others. But if Socrates could as a model make philosophy practical, Arendt at another moment worried that the model which he set was in one fundamental way misleading. The moment was that of the very movements for civil disobedience which we considered above: Arendt published her essay ‘Civil Disobedience’ in 1970 and collected it in her book Crises of the Republic in 1972. Here Arendt did not deny that Socrates had engaged in civil disobedience. But she argued that both he and Thoreau did so for reasons of their own ethical or religious conscience, and that civil disobedients who adulated and followed them in this appeal to individual morality risked destroying the public realm.64 They risked dissolving the properly political questions that citizens should confront among their fellows into matters of private and unchallengeable belief. Arendt’s great fear was that appeal to a privately perceived higher law or Truth would invade the public realm, destroying the concert of appearances which is the legitimate space of politics. To the extent that she took Socrates to have made such an appeal, she sought to expunge his image from politics; but to the extent that she saw Socrates as an exponent of thinking, she recognized that he was indispensable for individual moral reflection and action and sometimes saw that he could in his exemplary way bridge the gap between individual and collective ethics. Strauss by contrast suggested that appeal to the higher principles of natural right was indispensable for philosophy, though he was elusive when it came to stating just what those principles were, to the extent that Dana Villa identifies a ‘skeptical’ Strauss standing behind the ‘Platonic’ Strauss who trumpeted the existence of natural right. But if the best life for the few capable of philosophy is to search for such principles, that life has no political bearing. Indeed, the city has to be shielded from the full brunt of philosophy which will corrode the myths and poetry by which it lives. Strauss’s Socrates is clearly on the side of philosophy – that is why he was mocked, by Aristophanes, and killed, by decision of a democratic Athenian jury. philosophy (and of Socrates as paradigm of both) to politics: he told students in 1967 that ‘Socrates is not the philosopher-king but the philosopher-citizen, telling everybody that every man can be a philosophizing being and that no one can be a good citizen – that is, a political being – without being also a philosopher’. See Heinrich Blücher, ‘A lecture from the common course’, as printed in Kohler 1996, 390–400, quotation on 398. 63 Arendt, ‘Truth and politics’, in Arendt 1968, 247. 64 Arendt 1972, 63–4.

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Dwelling on the inescapable tension between Socrates and the city – a tension seen as merely temporary by the ‘civil disobedience’ invokers of Socrates, for whom civil disobedience will itself lead to public healing – Strauss questioned the simplest basis for claiming Socrates as a civil disobedient. This was the strategy, tacitly used by More as we saw above, of simply identifying Socrates with the arguments he puts forward in the voice of the ‘Laws’ in order to persuade his friend Crito in the eponymous Platonic dialogue. For Strauss, ‘[T]he logos [argument] which convinces Socrates would not convince Kriton [Crito] and vice versa’.65 Strauss concluded: … Socrates did not think that there could be an unqualified duty to obey the laws. But this did not prevent him from thinking, nay, it enabled him to think that the demand for such obedience is a wise rule of thumb as distinguished from an unqualifiedly valid law.66

This remark captures the nub of Strauss’s politics. There is no unqualified duty to the city, but there are good reasons to protect it (including the protection afforded it when its commands are obeyed). Yet these reasons can be known only to the philosophers, who when speaking to the multitude must offer them other reasons which the latter will be able to understand. For Arendt and Strauss, then, the Socrates of the great resistance movements which stirred America from the 1950s to the 1970s was a mistaken one. Socrates was at best a model of thinking, and where he became relevant to politics, the danger was that his ethical vision or his political arguments might all too easily mislead. The ‘pious citizen’ of Montgomery’s 1954 collection was not, for these two refugees from Nazism, innocuous: in his radical arguments, as in philosophy generally, lay hidden dangers to the city. Co ncl usi on This essay has confined itself to some of the more public invocations of Socrates in American culture and politics. It has not attempted to trace all the convolutions of scholarly debates about Socrates, nor to explore some of the more perfunctory if powerful evocations of him, for example the ‘Socratic method’ by which teaching in American law schools traditionally proceeds. It has been argued here that the peculiar American focus on Socrates’ trial was a product of McCarthyism; the contestable conception of him as a democratically committed civil disobedient, a product of the 1960s and 1970s political upheavals; and the older if equally contestable vision of him as a moral conservative and inspiration, due to earlier battles over the place of classical culture in the United States. In each case a particular 65 66

Strauss 1983 [1976], 66. Strauss 1983 [1976], 66.

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feature of Socrates was seized upon and sometimes exaggerated. But the motive to return to Socrates as the name for some kind of commitment to argument and inquiry remains potent. That another moment has come for Socratic defences of free inquiry and argument in America is evident. In his 1957 speech Harris Wofford, Jr., defended the ‘courageous non-violence’ practised by the civil rights movement and advocated by Gandhi with a simple observation: ‘The old law of an-eye-for-an-eye-for-an-eye leaves everyone blind’.67 The rejection of retaliation is in Plato an original Socratic thought: retaliation is wrong not only because it is better to suffer wrong than to do it, but also because there is no point in harming even (or especially) enemies except so as to make them morally better. In 2001 a sign reading ‘An eye for an eye makes the world blind’ was spotted at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). Instead of invoking memories of Wofford, King, and Gandhi, the sign was named among the ‘Campus Responses to September 11th’ condemned by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni report, ‘Defending Civilization: How our Universities are Failing America and What Can Be Done About It’.68 Socratic gadflies are not the ones who most threaten our sight.

Refere nces American Council of Trustees and Alumni (2001), ‘Defending civilization: how our universities are failing America and what can be done about it’, available online at http://www.goacta.org/publications/Reports/defciv.pdf (last checked 18 November 2005). Anderson, M. (1952), Barefoot in Athens, Acting Edition, New York: Dramatists Play Service (original ed. 1951, New York: W. Sloane Associates). Anderson, P.R. (1963), Platonism in the Midwest, Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Arendt, H. (1963), Eichmann in Jerusalem: a report on the banality of evil, London: Faber and Faber. Arendt, H. (1968), Between Past and Future: eight exercises in political thought, New York: The Viking Press (original ed. 1954). Arendt, H. (1972), Crises of the Republic, New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich. Avery, L.G. (1968), A Catalogue of the Maxwell Anderson Collection at the University of Texas, Austin: University of Texas. Avery, L.G. (ed.) (1977), Dramatist in America: Letters of Maxwell Anderson, 1912–1958, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Babbitt, I. (1924), Democracy and Leadership, Boston; New York: Houghton Mifflin. 67 68

Wofford 1969 [1957–8]), 67. American Council of Trustees and Alumni 2001, 19.

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Barker, A. (1977), ‘Why did Socrates refuse to escape?’, Phronesis 22: 13–28. Bedau, H.A. (1969) (ed.), Civil Disobedience: theory and practice, New York: Pegasus. Boardman, R.M. (1969), ‘Letter to Local Board No.114’, in Bedau 1969, 179–86 (originally printed in Hear Ye, June 1967, 2–19). Calder, W.M. (1995), ‘William Abbott Oldfather and the preservation of German influence in American classics 1919–1933’, in H. Flashar (ed.), Altertumswissenschaft in den 20er Jahren: neue Fragen und Impulse, Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 403– 421. Colaiaco, J.A. (2001), Socrates against Athens: philosophy on trial, New York; London: Routledge. Dakin, A.H. (1960), Paul Elmer More, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Dybikowski, J. (1974), ‘Socrates, obedience, and the law: Plato’s Crito’, Dialogue 13.3: 519–36. Fitzhugh, G. (1982), Cannibals All! or, Slaves without Masters, ed. C.V. Woodward, Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (original ed. 1857). Grote, G. (1865), Plato, and the Other Companions of Sokrates, London: John Murray. Hacohen, M.H. (2000), Karl Popper – The Formative Years, 1902–45, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hoeveler, J.D., Jr. (1977), The New Humanism: a critique of Modern America, 1900–1940, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press. Jefferson, T. (1999), Political Writings, ed. J. Appleby and T. Ball, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. King, M.L. (1986a), ‘Love, law and civil disobedience’, repr. in King 1986e, 43–53 (originally printed 1961). King, M.L. (1986b), ‘Letter from Birmingham City Jail’, repr. in King 1986e, 289–302 (originally printed 1963). King, M.L. (1986c), Playboy Interview: Martin Luther King, Jr., repr. in King 1986e, 340–377 (originally printed 1965). King, M.L. (1986d), ‘The trumpet of conscience’, repr. in King 1986e, 634–653 (originally printed 1967). King, M.L. (1986e), A Testament of Hope: the essential writings of Martin Luther King, ed. J.M. Washington, San Francisco: Harper and Row. Köhler, L. (ed.) (1996), Within Four Walls: the correspondence between Hannah Arendt and Heinrich Blücher 1936–1968, tr. P. Constantine, New York, San Diego and London: Harcourt. Lane, M. (2001), Plato’s Progeny: how Socrates and Plato still captivate the modern mind, London: Duckworth. Lindstedt, M. (1996), ‘Socrates had it coming’, Freedom’s Home Page Gazette, online at http://users.mo-net.com/mlindste/socrates.html, last checked 18 November 2005 (publication record is according to the site and has not been independently verified). McLaughlin, R.J. (1976), ‘Socrates on political disobedience: a reply to Gary Young’, Phronesis 21: 185–97. Montgomery, J.D. (ed.) (1954a), The State versus Socrates: a case study in civic freedom, Boston: The Beacon Press.

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Montgomery, J.D. (1954b), ‘Introduction: the unfinished trial’, in Montgomery 1954a, 3–15. More, P.E. (1967a), ‘Socrates’, Shelburne Essays, 6 th series: Studies of Religious Dualism, New York: Phaeton Press, 242–73 (original ed. 1909). More, P.E. (1967b), ‘Plato’, Shelburne Essays, 6 th series: Studies of Religious Dualism, New York: Phaeton Press, 321–55 (original ed. 1909). More, P.E. (1967c), ‘Nietzsche’, Shelburne Essays, 8th series: The Drift of Romanticism, New York: Phaeton Press, 145–90 (original ed. 1913). More, P.E. (1967d), Shelburne Essays, 9 th series: Aristocracy and Justice, New York: Phaeton Press (original ed. 1915). Popper, K. (1969), The Open Society and Its Enemies , ed. 4, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul (original ed. 1945). Schofield, M. (2002), ‘Socrates on trial in the USA’, in T.P. Wiseman (ed.), Classics in Progress: essays on ancient Greece and Rome, London: Oxford University Press for The British Academy, 263–83. Shivers, A.S. (1983), The Life of Maxwell Anderson, New York: Stein and Day. Shorey, P. (1911), ‘American scholarship’, Nation 92 (11 May): 466–69, repr. in Shorey 1995, 383–97. Shorey, P. (1915), ‘National culture and classical education’, address delivered before the Verein der Freunde des humanistischen Gymnasiums, 11 May 1914, first published in German in Mitteilungen des Wiener Vereins der Freunde des humanistischen Gymnasiums, Vienna and Leipzig: Carl Fromme, 1915, 1–22; translated in Shorey 1995, 359–81. Shorey, P. (1917), The Assault on Humanism, Boston: Atlantic Monographs. Shorey, P. (1919), ‘Fifty years of classical studies in America’, Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 50: 33–61. Shorey, P. (1995), The Roosevelt Lectures of Paul Shorey (1913–1914), tr. and ed. E.C. Reinke, W.W. Briggs and E.C. Kopff, Zurich and New York: Georg Olms Verlag. Stone, I.F. (1988), The Trial of Socrates, London: Jonathan Cape. Strauss, L. (1983), ‘On Plato’s Apology of Socrates and Crito’, in Id., Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy, ed. T.L. Pangle, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 38–66 (repr. from Studies in Honor of Jacob Klein, Annapolis: St John’s College Press, 1976). Turner, F.M. (1981), The Greek Heritage in Victorian Britain, New Haven and London: Yale University Press. Villa, D. (2001), Socratic Citizenship, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. Vlastos, G. (ed.) (1971), The Philosophy of Socrates, Garden City, NY: Anchor Books. Vlastos, G. (1974), ‘Socrates on obedience and disobedience’, The Yale Review, Summer: 517–34. Vlastos, G. (1994), ‘Epilogue: Socrates and Vietnam’, in M. F. Burnyeat (ed.), Socratic Studies, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 127–33. West, W.C. (2000), ‘Socrates as a model of civil disobedience in the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr.’, Classical Bulletin 76: 191–200. Winspear, A.D. and Silverberg, T. (1939), Who Was Socrates?, New York: The Cordon Company.

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Wish, H. (1949), ‘Aristotle, Plato, and the Mason-Dixon Line’, Journal of the History of Ideas 10: 254–66. Wofford, H.L. (1969), ‘Non-violence and the law: the law needs help’, in Bedau 1969, 59–71 (originally printed in Journal of Religious Thought 15 (1957), 25–36). Woozley, A.D. (1971), ‘Socrates on disobeying the law’, in Vlastos 1971, 299–318. Wyzanski, C.E., Jr. (1969), ‘On civil disobedience and draft resistance’ in Bedau 1969, 194–200 (originally printed as ‘On civil disobedience’, The Atlantic Monthly 221 [Feb. 1968], 58–60). Young, G. (1974), ‘Socrates and obedience’, Phronesis 19: 1–29.

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Gener al bibli ograph y

This bibliography lists only studies of general scope dealing with more than one text, author, period or medium (including those printed in the companion volume to this one, Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment = Trapp 2007a). It is heavily dependent on existing published bibliographies (including those assembled by the contributors to this volume). Abma, E. (1949), Sokrates in der deutschen Literatur, Utrecht: Schotanus & Jens. Adamson, P. (2006), ‘The Arabic Socrates: the place of al-Kind’s report in the tradition’, in Trapp 2007a, 161–78. Allard, S. (2001), ‘La mort dans l’âme. Essai sur la représentation des derniers moments de Socrate dans la peinture française du XVIIIe siècle’, in Laks and Narcy 2001, 183–203. Belgioioso, G. (2004), ‘I “filosofi pezzenti” e gli “honnêtes hommes”. Immagini di Socrate nella cultura italiana del Seicento’, in Lojacono 2004, 147–72. Berland, K.J.H. (1986), ‘Bringing Philosophy down from the Heavens: Socrates and the New Science’, Journal of the History of Ideas 47: 299–308. Berland, K.J.H. (1990), ‘Dialogue into drama: Socrates in eighteenth-century verse dramas’, in J. Redmond (ed.), Drama and Philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 127–41. Berland, K.J.H. (1993), ‘Reading character in the face: Lavater, Socrates, and physiognomy’, Word & Image 9: 252–69. Bergmann, J. (1936), ‘Sokrates in der jüdischen Literatur’, Monatschrift für die Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums 44: 1–13. Bohm, B. (1966), Sokrates im achtzehnthen Jahrhundert. Studien zum Werdegange des modernen Persönlichkeitbewusstseins, ed. 2, Neumünster: Wachholtz. Brenning, E. (1899), ‘Die Gestalt des Sokrates in der Literatur des vorigen Jahrhunderts’, in Festschrift der 45. Versammlung deutscher Philologen und Schulmänner, Bremen: G. Winter, 421–81. Brown, P.G.McC. (2004), ‘Socrates in comedy’, in Karasmanis 2004, 525–34. Brown, P.G.McC. (2006), ‘The comic Socrates’, in Trapp 2007a, 1–16. Bury, E. (2004), ‘Aspects de la philologie socratique au XVIIème siècle’, in Lojacono 2004, 10–32. Carson, K. (1971), ‘Socrates observed: three eighteenth-century views’, Diderot Studies, 14: 273–81. Cavaillé, J-P. (2004), ‘Socrate libertin’, in Lojacono 2004, 33–65. Charalabopoulos, N. (2006), ‘Two images of Sokrates in the art of the Greek east’, in Trapp 2007a, 105–26. Chroust, A-H. (1957), Socrates, Man and Myth, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

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Dall’Orto, G. (1989), ‘“Socratic love” as a disguise for same-sex love in the Italian Renaissance’, in K. Gerard & G. Hekma (eds), The Pursuit of Sodomy: male homosexuality in Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe, New York: Haworth Press, 33–66. Danzig, G. (2006), ‘Socrates in Hellenistic and medieval Jewish literature, with special regard to Jehuda Hallevi’s Kuzari’, in Trapp 2007a, 143–60. Döring, K. (2001), ‘Sokrates auf der Opernbühne’, Antike und Abendland 47: 198–213 (abbreviated version, ‘Socrate sur la scène de l’opéra’, in Laks and Narcy 2001, 205–20). Edwards, M.J. (2006), ‘Socrates and the early church’, in Trapp 2007a, 127–42. Ferguson, J. (ed.) (1970), Socrates. A source book, London: Macmillan. Fitzpatrick, P.J. (1992), ‘The legacy of Socrates’, in B.S. Gower and M.C. Stokes, eds, Socratic Questions: the philosophy of Socrates and its significance, London: Routledge, 153–208. Frede, M. (2004), ‘The early Christian reception of Socrates’, in Karasmanis 2004, 481–90. Geffcken, J. (1908), Sokrates und das alte Christentum, Heidelberg: C. Winter. Geiger, J. (2006), ‘Socrates and his companions in art’, in Trapp 2007a, 89–104. Gigon, O. (1947), Sokrates. Sein Bild in Dichtung und Geschichte, Bern: A. Francke. Hankins, J. (2004), ‘The figure of Socrates in the Italian Renaissance’, in Karasmanis 2004, 517–23. Hankins, J. (2006), ‘Socrates in the Italian Renaissance’, in Trapp 2007a, 179–208. Hertel, W. (1921), Sokrates in der deutschen Dichtung der Aufklärung, diss.Munich. Hulse, J. (1995), The Reputations of Socrates. New York: P. Lang. Karasmanis, V. (ed.) (2004), Socrates. 2400 years since his death, Delphi: European Cultural Centre of Delphi. Kofman, S. (1989), Socrate(s), Paris: Galilée. Tr. by C. Porter as Socrates: fictions of a philosopher, London: Athlone, 1998. Laarmann, M. (1995), ‘Sokrates im Mittelalter’, in R. Auty et al. (eds), Lexikon des Mittelalters, vol. 7.2, Munich and Zurich: Artemis-Verlag. Laks, A. and Narcy, M. (2001), eds, Figures de Socrate (= Philosophie Antique 1), Villeneuve d’Ascq: Septentrion. Lane, M. (2001), Plato’s Progeny: how Plato and Socrates still captivate the modern mind, London: Duckworth. Levi, A. W. (1956), ‘The idea of Socrates: the philosophic hero in the nineteenth century’, Journal of the History of Ideas 17: 89–108. Lojacono, E. (2004), ed., Socrate in occidente, Florence: Le Monnier. Lojacono, E. (2004a), ‘Socrate e l’honnête homme nella cultura dell’autunno del Rinascimento francese e in René Descartes’, in Lojacono 2004, 103–146. Long, A.A. (1988), ‘Socrates in Hellenistic philosophy’, Classical Quarterly 38: 150–71. Lundgren, L.O. (1978), Sokratesbilden: från Aristofanes till Nietzsche, Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell. Macgregor Morris, I. (2006), ‘The refutation of democracy? Socrates in the Enlightenment’, in Trapp 2007a, 209–28. Marcel, R. (1951), ‘“Saint” Socrate, patron de l’humanisme’, Revue internationale de philosophie 5: 135–43.

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McGrath, E. (1983), ‘The drunken Alcibiades: Rubens’s picture of Plato’s Symposium’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 46: 228–35. McLean, D.L. (2006), ‘The Socratic corpus: Socrates and physiognomy’, in Trapp 2007a, 65–88. Montuori, M. (1974), Socrate: fisiologia di un mito, Florence: Sansoni. Montuori, M. (1981a), Socrates: physiology of a myth, Amsterdam: Gieben. Montuori, M. (1981b), De Socrate iuste damnato: the rise of the Socratic problem in the eighteenth century, Amsterdam: Gieben. Montuori, M. (1992), The Socratic problem: the history, the solutions, from the 18th century to the present time, Amsterdam: Gieben. Nehamas, A. (1998), The Art of Living: Socratic reflections from Plato to Foucault, Berkeley: University of California Press. Oberreuter-Kronabel, G. (1986), Der Tod des Philosophen: Untersuchungen zum Sinngehalt eines Sterbebildtypus der französischen Malerei in der zweiten Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts, Munich: Fink. Patzer, A. (1987), Der Historische Sokrates, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftlicher Buchgesellschaft. Pigler, A. (1938), ‘Sokrates in der Kunst der Neuzeit’, Die Antike 14: 281–94. Schofield, M. (2002), ‘Socrates on Trial in the USA’, in T.P. Wiseman (ed.), Classics in Progres: essays on Ancient Greece and Rome, London: The British Academy (Oxford University Press), 263–83. Seebeck, H.G. (1947), Die Sokratesbild vom 19. Jahrhundert bis zur Gegenwart, diss. Göttingen. Seznec, J. (1957), ‘Le Socrate imaginaire’, in J. Seznec, Essais sur Diderot et l’antiquité, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1–22. Smith, A. (2004), ‘The Neoplatonic Socrates’, in Karasmanis 2004, 455–60. Spiegelberg, H. (1964), ed., The Socratic Enigma, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. Stavru, A. (2001), ‘Il “Socrate” di Walter F. otto nel contesto degli studi socratici in Germania tra ottocento e novecento’, Studi Filosofici 24:173–90. Trapp, M.B. (2004), ‘The image of Socrates in art from the fifth century BC to the twentieth century AD’, in Karasmanis 2004, 507–16. Trapp, M.B. (ed.) (2007a), Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment, Aldershot: Ashgate. Trapp, M.B. (ed.) (2007b), Socrates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Aldershot: Ashgate. Trousson, R. (1967), Socrate devant Voltaire, Diderot et Rousseau. La conscience en face du mythe, Paris: Minard. Turner, F.M. (1981), The Greek Heritage in Victorian Britain, New Haven: Yale University Press, 264–321. Zanker, P. (1995), The Mask of Socrates. Berkeley: University of California Press, 32– 9, 57–62, 172–4, 370–2.

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~ Taylor & Francis

~ Taylor & Francis Group http://tayl ora ndfra ncis.com

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Index For references to themes, see principally under ‘Socrates’ Brecht, B., 71, 119–22, 125, 134–9 Britten, B., 70–1, 141-66 Bruni, L., 68 Bruno, G., 110 Buchanan, R., 106 Bulgaria, 187–97; education post-1948, 193–4; translations from Greek and Latin (esp. Plato and Xenophon), 194–6 Burton, R., 99

Agathon, 60, 69, 82–4, 87, 90 Alcibiade fanciullo a scuola, 111 Alcibiades, 26, 66, 68–71, 82–4, 86, 106, 110, 111–12, 121, 123–7, 129– 33, 137–8, 150–1, 215 All About Love, 66–7 Anaxagoras, 6 Anderson, M., 214–16 Anti-Climacus (pseud.), 24–5, 29; see also Kierkegaard Antinous, 82, 104 Apollo, Apolline, 40–3, 144, 155 Apollodorus, 70 Arendt, H., 170, 179, 183–4, 220–1 Aristodemus, 70 Aristophanes, 4, 11, 13, 21, 44, 69 Clouds 4, 13, 120 Aristotle, 175, 183, 206 Aristoxenus, xviii Asclepius, 48, 49 Ast, F., 14 Athenian Mercury, The, xvii Auden, W.H., 144 Augustine, St, 62 Aulus Gellius, 189

Cage, J., 66 Canova, A., 70, 76 Capitalism, 134–5 Carpenter, E., 99, 103, 105 Carstens, A.J., 69, 75 Castiglione, B., 63 Caygill, H., 183 Charmides, 103 Chorier, N., xvii Cicero, 6, 50, 110 civil disobedience, 217–19, 221 civil rights, 217–19 classical tradition, see reception studies Climacus, J. (pseud.), 23–7; see also Kierkegaard Cold War, 134, 207 Coleridge, S.T., 208 Colorado amendment, 66, 112–13 communism, 187–97, 214–16 Comte, A., xv Critias, 215–16 Cuasiteatro (Seville), xviii Cunningham, M., 66

Babbitt, I., 209 Bacon, F., xx Barefoot in Athens, 214–16 Bas(s)in, P.V., 70 beauty, 60 Bembo, P., 63 Bernard of Clairvaux, St, 29, 62 Bernstein, L., 66 Besetzung, 142–3 Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, xviii biography, 97–8 Blücher, H., 221 Bonaventura, St, 62 Boy Worship, 104 Brandis, C., 109

Dante, 62 David, J-L., xx, 65, 74, 90 decadence, 49–52 democracy, 172, 174–5, 179–80, 211 Democritus, 45, 46, 47 Derrida, J., xx 231

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232 Diogenes Laertius, 195 Dionysus, Dionysiac, 40–2, 55, 144, 147, 149, 152, 155 Diotima, 60–6 Douglas, Lord A., 109 Dresig, S.F., 3 Drinking Party, The, 66 Dufresnoy, C-A., xx Ebreo, L., 63 Eliot, T.S., 65 Emerson, R.W., 206 Empedocles, 45 Enlightenment, 3 Erni, H., 66 erôs, see Platonic love, Socrates and sex Eryximachus, 69, 83 Euripides, 41, 44, 144–5 European Community, xix Eurovision Song Contest, xviii Feo, A., xx Ferobanti, P., 63 Feuerbach, A., 69–70, 77–95 Gastmahl, preliminary sketch, 78–9, 93 Gastmahl, Karlsruhe version, 69–70, 79, 84, 94 Gastmahl, Berlin version, 79–82, 85, 95 Fichte, J.G., 4, 14 Ficino, M., 62–3, 69, 103–4 Finnis, J., 112–13 Fitzhugh, G., 206 Forberg, F.K., 97, 112, 117 Foucault, M., 97, 98, 106 Frankenstein, 100 French Revolution, 4, 14–15 Fréret, N., 3 Freud, S., 55, 142 Galileo, 138–9 Gandhi, M., 138, 212, 217, 223 Garnier, E-B., 70 Gérôme, J-L., 70 Gesner, J., 111

INDEX

Graves, R., 64 Gregory of Nyssa, 62 Gross, R., xix Grote, G., xv, xx, 176, 181, 205, 207, 212 Guthrie, W.K.C., 173, 182 Hamann, J.G., 3, 19, 34–5 Ha ek, J., 135 Hegel, G.W.F., 1–16, 19–22, 25, 28–9, 44 Heraclitus, 6, 47 herms, 128–30, 131–2 Herodicus (of Seleucia), xvi, xviii Himmelstrup, J., 20, 23 Hirschfeld, M., xvii Hölderlin, F., 70–1, 120, 150–1 homosexuality, 63, 66–7, 97–117 Hutcheon, L., 182 Hyacinthus, 110 irony, Romantic, 4, 13–14; see also under Socrates Jefferson, T., 206 Jones, I., 70 Jowett, B., 108, 173, 181 Jung, C., 144 Juvenal, 110 Kaiser, G., 71, 119–34 Kaufmann, W., 38 Keller, H., 141–2 Kierkegaard, S., 16, 19–35 King, M.L. Jr, 217–19 Laclos, C. de., xvii Lefebvre, H., 167, 174, 184 Leon (of Salamis), 215 Lessing, G.E., 19, 34–5 Levinson, P., xx Levy, A., 107 Libanius, 191 liberalism, 105 Lindstedt, M., 217 Los Angeles Powerhouse Theater, 67

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INDEX

love, 31–3 Lucian, 71, 110 Lumet, S., 214 Luther, M., 50–1 Lycon, 215 Mackie, G., 103 McCarthy, J., 212–17 McIntyre, A., 180 McKern, L., 66 Mahler, G., 143, 154 Mallock, W.H., 100 Mann, T., 143, 145–8, 152, 155–6 Manoff, A. (‘Kate Nickerson’), 214 Marchesi, P., 70 Marsyas, 151 Marxism, 120, 123, 134, 137–9, 189–90, 207, 212 Maximus of Tyre 111 Mill, J.S., 167–84, 212 Miller, J., 66 Montgomery, J.D., 212–13 Moral(ität), 7–9 More, P.E., 209–12 negativity, infinite absolute, 21–3 Nehamas, A., 38–9, 44, 174 New Humanism, 209–12 New Man, 131–4 Nietzsche, F., 37–56, 119–20, 128, 132–3, 141–2, 143–5, 151, 155, 208, 210–11, 212 Birth of Tragedy, 40–7 Ecce Homo, 54–5 Twilight of the Idols, 49–55 Nussbaum, M., 112–13 Origen, 62 Orpheus, 42 Ostwald, M., 182 Oxford tutorials, 108 pacifism, 122–3, 127, 135 Parmenides, 46–7 Pater, W., 103, 109 Pausanias, 69

Pears, P., 143, 151, 152, 153 Peloponnesian War, 8, 14, 120 Perry, B.E., 2 Peyron, J-F-P., 70 Phaedo, 110 Phillips, C., xix philosophes, 3 philosophia, 2 Phryne, 130 Pico della Mirandola, G., 63 Piper, M., 143, 148–9, 153–4 Plato, 2, 3, 11, 14–15, 21, 39, 51, 59–95, 112–13, 119–20, 193–5, 206 Apology, 39, 67, 120, 121, 209, 212 Charmides, 101–3, 113 Crito, 219, 222 Euthyphro, 67 Gorgias, 178 Laws, 101, 110, 113 Lysis, 101 Meno, 23–4, 177, 183 Phaedo, 48, 66, 132 Phaedrus, 66, 100–2, 108, 110, 141– 2, 143, 147–9, 152–4 Protagoras, 167-84 Republic, 101, 180 Symposium, 22, 59–95, 100–2, 104, 108, 123-4, 150 Theaetetus, 183 Platonic love, xvii, 59–63, 66–7, 99– 102, 108, 110, 147–55; see also Socrates and sex Platt, A., 104–5 Plotinus, 61–2 Plutarch, 100 Popper, K.R., xv, 179–80, 207, 212 Presocratic philosophy, 6, 45–6 Pressfield, S., xx Protagoras, 6 Pseudo-Dionysius, 62 Raphael, xx reception studies, 168–71 recollection, 23–5 Regnault, J-B., 70 Rice, E., 216

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234 Rocco, A., 111 Rosa, S., xx Rubens, P.P., 69, 82 Sade, Maquis de, xvii Satie, E., 66, 149 Schlegel, F. von, 4, 13–14, 21 Schleiermacher, F.E.D., 11 Schopenhauer, A., 38–9, 144 Schwartz, D., 64 Sebastian, St, 104 Secundus (the Silent Philosopher), 2 sexual identity, 97–113 Shaw, G.B., 128, 130 Shelley, M., 100 Shorey, P., 208–9 Sigea, A. (L.), xvii Silverberg, T., 212 Simon the Cobbler, 128 sin, 24–5 Sittlichkeit, 7–9 Socrates appearance, 32–3, 45, 50, 121–2, 129–30, 192 and art, 39, 41–3, 55–6 and Christ(ianity), 5, 19–35, 47–9, 53, 61, 105, 131, 209–10, 212, 221 corruption of the young, 9, 12 daimonion, 9, 13, 42, 48, 51, 145 death, 3, 22, 48, 49, 53–4, 106, 131, 132–3, 145, 219, 222 and democracy, 175–80, 184, 189, 211, 212–23 dialectic (cf. methodology), 51–2, 171–4, 189, 215–16 as dissident, 120, 168, 212–19 in drama, xviii, 65–7, 71 elenchus (cf. methodology), 215 iconography, ancient, 86 iconography, post-antique, xx, 65– 6, 69–70, 86 ignorance, 34, 121 irony, 1, 3, 4, 11–15, 21–3, 51–2, 55, 167–8, 173, 182–3 know thyself, xix, 112

INDEX

methodology (cf. dialectic, elenchus, maieutic), xix, 1–2, 25–7, 29–31, 33, 39, 51–2 midwifery (maieutic; see also methodology), 22, 23–4, 30, 136– 7, 183 military career, xvi–xvii, 22, 68, 71, 119–39 in music, 66 ‘music-making’ (musiktreibende), 43 in opera, 125 as pacifist, 135–6 and personal development, xvii as (archetypal) philosopher, 68–71 and politics, xvi, 3, 8–11, 105, 172, 175–80, 184, 187–97, 211–12, 212–23 rationalism, 40–7, 51–3, 55, 129, 145 religious views, 8-9, 209–10 and scientific method, xv, xx as sculptor, 128–30 and sex (see also Platonic love), xvii, 59–63, 66–7, 70–1, 97–117, 130, 147–55, 191–2 as spiritual guide, 59–68 trial, 8–11, 136, 190–1, 212 as turning-point in thought, xvi, 2–3, 5–9, 12–13, 15, 22, 28, 40–7, 171 as victim of persecution (martyr), 3, 10–11, 22, 104–6, 137, 190–1, 210, 212–18 wives, 106–7 Sócrates Superstar, xviii Socratic love, 110; see Platonic love, Socrates and sex Socratic problem, xviii–xx, 11, 13–14, 21, 39–40 Solger, K.W.F., 14 Solomon, S., 111 Sophists, 176 Spangenberg, G.A., 69 Stanfield, J.F., 100 Stiedry, F., 125 Stone, I.F., 216–17 Strauss, L., 221–2 subjectivity, 6–7, 13, 22

235

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vejk (Schweyk), 135 Swinburne, A.C., 111 Symonds, J.A., xvii, 101–4, 105, 107, 111, 113 Taylor, C.C.W., 180, 182 technê, 174, 175–84 Teleny, 106–7 Testa, P., 69, 82 Theaterworks Company (Colorado Springs), 66–7 Thoreau, H.D., 217, 221 Threepenny Opera, 121 Toynbee, A., 212 tragedy, ‘the tragic’, 9–10, 40–7 translation, 168–71, 180–3 Tyrwhitt, R.S., 103 Ulrichs, K.H., xvii Ustinov, P., 214

Vlastos, G., 219 Voltaire, F.M., 110 voyeurism, 102–4 Wagner, R., 38–9, 44, 55, 145, 155–6 Wallach, J., 181 war, see pacifism Whitman, W. 106 Wilde, O.F.O.W., xvii, 98–9, 103, 104, 108 Williams, R., 170 Winspear, A.D., 212 Wofford, H.L., 218–19, 223 Wyzanski, C.E., 219 Xant(h)ippe, 106–7, 126, 134, 138 Xenophon, 3, 11, 21, 195 Apology, 132 Memorabilia, 67 You Are There, 213–14

Vietnam war, 217, 219 Vincent, F-A., 70

Zopyrus, xvi, 50, 109–10