WHO'S WHO IN PLATO'S TIMAEUS-CRITIAS AND WHY.
This paper will ascertain exactly who one, two, and three are through a detailed analysis of the historical information Plato provides in the two dialogues. The analysis strongly suggests just who the fourth was and why his absence mattered enough to make it the opening event of dialogues which set forth a whole cosmology and an elaborate tale of ancient Athenian greatness. Once all four characters are granted their proper weight, Timaeus-Critias as a whole must be measured anew. In the final part of this paper, then, we will begin the more difficult and contentious consideration of just how an appreciation of the characters provides a compelling perspective for interpreting the intention of both the cosmology and the patriotic tale set forth in these great dialogues.(1)
Our assumption throughout is that it matters who the three are and who the absent fourth was to be or Plato would not have given the issue such prominence. An ancient report states that Plato was an assiduous polisher, that he "combed and curled" his dialogues, the openings in particular, constantly revising them.(2) It is a true report, judging from the remarkable openings of so many of Plato's dialogues. Why did combing and curling the opening of these two dialogues entail counting the three individuals who are present and pointing to an absent fourth?
The Setting. The speeches of Timaeus-Critias are all given at a certain Kritias's house,(3) and they have a predetermined theme because of what was said at Socrates' house the previous day. Yesterday, when Socrates was host, he entertained his four guests with a speech outlining a city. Today's summary of yesterday's speech makes yesterday's city sound like the city built in the speeches of Plato's Republic. Once that apparent connection is reflected upon, however, it becomes evident that Socrates' speech yesterday was an incomplete version of the city of the Republic. Moreover, it was incomplete in a telling way: Socrates' speech yesterday stopped at the precise point where the Republic took up today's theme, how the city makes war.(4) By stopping there yesterday, Socrates also omitted any mention of the theme taken up immediately after the city at war in the Republic: the philosopher ruler. This theme too, perhaps the most memorable novelty of the Republic, has direct relevance for the Timaeus-Critias because Socrates flatters today's interlocutors by calling them philosophers and statesmen, men fit to speak on the grave topics of the city at war and its encompassing cosmos.(5)
Socrates had thus maneuvered, through his abridged account of the Republic, to induce the others to speak on topics on which he himself is wholly fit to speak and had in fact spoken in the Republic. Today he asserts his inability to continue, alleging his unfitness to speak about his city at war because he is unable to sufficiently magnify the citizens or city he had described yesterday.(6) Furthermore, he states that he is not alone: poets and Sophism are also unfit to praise their cities or citizens. Poets are unfit because they are imitators wholly tied to their own things, the things of the city in which they have been raised. Sophists--wanderers from place to place who/are neither wise nor politic--are unfit because their uprootedness makes them unable to represent men who are both philosophers and statesmen.(7) Socrates, poem, and Sophism are all unfit, but there are present here today, Socrates says, philosophers and statesmen fit to describe the city at war: Timaeus of Locri, Kritias of Athens, and Hermokrates of Syracuse. That is the task Socrates assigned them yesterday, having won the right to demand this effort by his own speech, that carefully truncated version of the Republic given yesterday and briefly recalled before today's speeches.
As if to dictate that the reader compare yesterday's city with the city of the Republic, Plato has Socrates end his summary in the Timaeus by asking the others if he had omitted any point. Timaeus answers emphatically: no point has been omitted. Readers of the Republic will therefore know that yesterday, with this audience, Socrates chose to stop abruptly, just short of the theme raised next in the Republic: war among Hellenes.(8) Such war is not war at all, Socrates had said, but faction, for Hellenes are kin and ought not to enslave one another or ravage their countryside or bum their homes. Socrates refrained from mentioning these matters in the conversation yesterday, a conversation which took place in a pause during the greatest war among Hellenes, the Peloponnesian war between Ionians and Dorians. Present at that conversation are a small number of very special Ionian and Dorian statesmen whose cities would all be swept up in the general conflict among Hellenes.
The Timaeus-Critias makes clear that Socrates gave his account of the city yesterday at the request of the others, but he agreed to do so only after extracting from them a promise that they would repay him with speeches on a subject he would prescribe.(9) Thanks to the bargain Socrates struck yesterday we have, in the Timaeus-Critias, a non-Socratic elaboration of a theme on which we have a Socratic account, the city at war. We also have a non-Socratic elaboration of a comprehensive setting for the city at war, a whole cosmology, on which we have no Socratic account.(10)
Although Socrates' plan had been carefully arranged, the others had, overnight, hit upon a scheme that would alter their task somewhat. Therefore, they ask Socrates' permission to make changes in the speeches he prescribed.(11) Instead of showing Socrates' city at war, they ask if he would be satisfied with a suggestion made by Kritias, the other Athenian present. Kritias would like to relate an ancient tale showing ancient Athens at war. For as Kritias listened to Socrates' speech yesterday, he was reminded of Athens and of an old tale about Athens at war against a great city: fabulous Atlantis.(12) Will Socrates be content to hear a tale of ancient Athens at war against a great enemy, a glorious tale celebrating an Athenian victory against an imperial foe far mightier than she but flawed and made vulnerable by its dreams of glory? It is wholly appropriate, Socrates says,(13) that such a tale be told by an Athenian today, for a Panathenaia is unfolding outside, a festival at which strangers were accustomed to gather and to be regaled with tales celebrating Athens, especially tales celebrating the Athenian victories over imperial Persia Rather than hear others describe his fictional city at war, Socrates agrees to hear an Athenian describe Athens at war, a much earlier Athens of noble forebears performing a deed of unparalleled heroism bound to inspire her citizens and sober her enemies.
Listening to this tale of Athenian glory against an imperial foe, however, listening almost silently but after strongly encouraging its narration, is a very special stranger: Hermokrates of Syracuse. Hermokrates would become a most fateful opponent of Athens' own, very real imperial ambition, the man most responsible for the ruin of that ambition. For Hermokrates would--a few years after the conversation in the Timaeus-Critias--advocate and help conduct a brilliant military campaign, directing his city's and island's resistance against Athens' great Sicilian adventure (415-413). Partly because of his remarkable knowledge of his enemy and their ways, Hermokrates would succeed in inflicting on Athens the crushing and demoralizing defeat which was decisive in Athens' ultimate decline. Not only is the Timaeus-Critias crafted to have great statesmen speak on the city at war, it is crafted to have a great Athenian statesman speak about a barely remembered glory claimed for Ionian Athens in war and to have that speech attended by the Doric statesman most responsible for Athens' great defeat in her own most significant imperial ambition.
As the details of this arresting setting come gradually into view, Plato's readers will want to know just who are one, two, and three? And just who is the absent fourth?
One: Timaeus of Locri. Was Plato's Timaeus an historical individual? We know little of such a Timaeus other than what Plato chose to present in the dialogue named after him. Plato informs his readers that Timaeus was from Locri, a city in southern Italy, and that his careers in both science and politics were well known at the time the conversation unfolds.(14) After presenting Timaeus as a prominent Dorian scientist and politician, Plato says nothing more about him, allowing him to present his cosmological views without interruption or discussion.
Timaeus's city, Locri, was well known as one of a number of Italian cities in which Pythagoreanism was both the dominant school of thought and the source of political leadership. The information Plato supplies about Timaeus and the cosmological teaching he attributes to him would be neither extraordinary nor surprising for an actual historical individual.
There is evidence which suggests that Timaeus was an historical individual. First, Iamblichus (fl. ca. 160-80 B.C.) records a "Timaeus" in his register of prominent Pythagoreans among the Paraians (another city in southern Italy), and this list immediately precedes his list of prominent Pythagorean Locrians. It is conceivable, as first suggested by Diels, that a copyist misplaced the name.(15) Similarly, the "Timares" Iamblichus lists among the Locrians could be a corruption of "Timaeus." Second, Cicero, writing about three centuries after Plato's death, twice records that Plato studied under Timaeus of Locri.(16) There is no good reason to simply reject Cicero's testimony as speculation or as the residue of an undependable tradition. It is wholly in keeping with Plato's practice to include in his dialogues well-known historical individuals, or individuals who were consequential in his own life, as any survey of the corpus shows. Moreover, it is our contention that the Timaeus-Critias are dialogues which are particularly concerned with historical events and are outfitted with a precise historical setting. All the other interlocutors of the Timaeus-Critias are decidedly historical and it would be incongruous to place a fictional character alongside an individual as historically prominent as Hermokrates of Syracuse. It is reasonable to suppose that Timaeus was an historical individual and that Plato's brief description of him would have cued in contemporary readers a recognition of an important Locrian philosopher and statesman without requiring extensive elaboration.(17)
Regardless of whether Timaeus is historical or fictional, the very fact that Plato places a Locrian diplomat in Athens for this conversation is of considerable importance: Athenian diplomatic relations with Locri Epizephyrii throughout the latter part of the fifth century permit a precise determination of the dramatic date of these dialogues. They also permit a reconstruction in imagination of the exact setting in which the conversation unfolded. Locri Epizephyrii was located in the "toe" of Italy. Like Hermokrates's Syracuse, Locri was an enemy of Athens during most of the Peloponnesian war.(18) The very mention of these two cities would have forced Plato's readers to ask just when it would have been possible for such enemies of Athens to be present in the city and free to converse with Socrates and Kritias about cities at War.
Plato supplies just enough information to provide the answer: the summer of 421--a date of special importance for the presence of Hermokrates and for the identity of the absent fourth events during the Ten Years War (431-421) suggest this dramatic date. When Thucydides outlines Athenian activity in the Western Mediterranean during the decade of the 420's, he relates, in fact, the infancy of Athenian imperial ambitions for Sicily, ambitions which would come to their fruition in 415. The first notice of Locri Epizephyrii is his account of 426 when Athens moved to assist their old ally Leontini in its war with Syracuse. Locri had allied itself with Syracuse in a growing conflict which was dividing Ionian and Dorian Greeks in Sicily and Italy. Athens assisted Ionian Leontini against the growing power of Syracuse.(19) This conflict lasted through the following year. Athenian forces even descended on Locri itself and were defeated by a Locrian fleet just off the Italian coast. Locrians also assisted a city in revolting from Athenian control and then invaded another of Athens' allies. Clearly, Locri had strong feelings against the Athenians.(20) When peace finally came to Sicily in 424, Locri was the sole polls which would not make peace with Athens. Locri's disposition would not change for the next two years, and when it did, it was due to necessity, for in 422, however, Locri became involved in a war against two neighboring cities. Because of this conflict, Locri welcomed assistance even from the hated Athenians.(21) The resulting treaty marked the only period of peaceful relations between Athenians and Locrians for the whole of the Peloponnesian war. The severity of Locrian hostility allows us to infer with some assurance that when this particular conflict was resolved, Locri immediately reverted to her previous disposition toward Athens.
Given these historical facts, it is likely that a leading citizen of Locri would have been present in Athens, accompanied by a leading citizen of Syracuse, sometime after the treaty between Athens and Locri was finalized during 422.(22) Moreover, Plato helps us to infer an even more precise dramatic date, and exclude 422, by his mention of the festival taking place that day. Plato refers to a lesser Panathenaia and not the Great Panathenaia or some other festival.(23) The Great Panathenaia occurred every fourth year and 422 was one of those years. Therefore, 421 presents itself as the most likely year in which the conversation in the Timaeus-Critias took place. Thus, by providing precise and leading clues, Plato makes it possible to conclude that Socrates entered the house of Kritias to discuss the city at war with Timaeus of Locri and Hermokrates of Syracuse and one other individual about 28 Hekatombaion of the Archonship of Aristion (mid-August 421).
If the mere presence of a Locrian permits us to secure the dramatic date of the Timaeus-Critias, our ignorance of Timaeus as an historical figure deprives us of one possible ground for answering a question that has troubled commentators on the Timaeus since ancient times: Is the Pythagorean cosmology described by Plato's Timaeus Plato's own? Or is it rather the cosmology appropriate to a fifth-century Pythagorean from southern Italy, a cosmology Plato had good reason to make prominent without necessarily holding as his own? We incline to the latter conclusion for reasons that will become apparent later in this paper--for Kritias's tale of ancient Athens has implications for the tale it frames, Timaeus's tale of the cosmos and the gods.
Two: Kritias of Athens. Two candidates have been put forward as the Kritias of Athens who appears in the Timaeus-Critias: Is he the most infamous member of the Thirty Tyrants, Plato's own maternal great-uncle (an hypothesis defended by J. Kirchner, reviving an ancient theory preserved by Diogenes and Proclus), or is he that tyrant's grandfather (a counter-proposal first suggested--as far as is known--by J. Burnet)?(24) The resolution of the issue seems quite straightforward. Since it is possible to secure the dramatic date of the Timaeus-Critias in 421, and since Plato clearly states Kritias's relationship to Solon, Athens' most famous statesman and lawgiver, Kritias's identity amounts to a simple matter of temporal possibilities.
Plato states that Solon was a relative and very dear friend of a great-grandfather of Kritias named Dropides. The story our Kritias will relate passed from Solon to his friend Dropides to Dropides's son Kritias, our Kritias's grandfather, and then on to our Kritias.(25) Our Kritias was told Solon's tale when he was just a boy, about ten years old, by his grandfather Kritias who was nearly ninety. The line of transmission thus runs: Solon to Dropides to grandfather Kritias to our Kritias to Socrates and the others in 421. Do these four generations provide enough time to cover the distance between Solon and Kritias the Tyrant? Ancient accounts make it possible to secure the dates of Solon and Kritias the Tyrant with some probability: Solon was born around 635-25 and his public activity ceased around 560/1.(26) Kritias the Tyrant was born between 460-455 and died during the civil war of 403.(27) Consequently, there are simply too many years between Solon and Kritias the Tyrant to be covered by the four generations Plato records--a chronological problem that was recognized in antiquity.(28) However, no chronological problems occur if we suppose that the Kritias of Timaeus-Critias is the grandfather of Kritias the Tyrant.(29)
Other factors point to this solution. Plato's treatment of Kritias suggests an old and respected statesman (which Kritias the Tyrant could not have been in 421). An aged Kritias is suggested by his remark that he has trouble recalling what happened yesterday but not what happened a great time ago.(30) In addition, it would hardly sound fitting for someone who was only thirty (as Kritias the Tyrant would have been) to say that the tale of Atlantis had been told to him "a great time ago." Furthermore, the dialogue highlights Hermokrates and Timaeus as prominent statesmen visiting Athens during an important festival in 421. Given the war and the gravity of events in Italy, leaders of such distinction who had only recently been enemies of Athens would presumably have come on important state business, and it would be fitting that they be hosted in Athens by a politically prominent elder statesman rather than by a political nonentity who only later gained prominence.(31)
It is altogether fitting that the teller of the tale which recalls and elevates an older Athens be an old and respected Athenian. It would be altogether unfitting that a young Athenian, one destined to disgrace Athens with tyranny, tell the tale of an old and free Athens that freed the whole of the Western Mediterranean from the threat of foreign rule. When Kritias heard the philosopher Socrates' description of a noble and orderly city he did what is natural for an old patriot: he transferred its features to his own city, identifying the best with his own. Whereas Socrates had held open the questions "Is it possible?" or "Is it for the best?" in the parts of the Republic he reported, Kritias thinks it was once actual and that it marked the best of times for his own people. That noble old Kritias tell the tale of a once nobler Athens fits the teller to the tale.
Before Kritias relates his great tale of Athens' war with Atlantis he provides a detailed description of his own first hearing of it--and in those details Plato seems to supply the framework for interpreting his fabulous tale. Kritias first heard the tale from his grandfather Kritias during the festival of Apaturia. At this festival Athenian youth were officially admitted into the phratries, or Brotherhoods, an essential step on the way to Athenian citizenship.(32) The name Apaturia suggested to the ancient Athenians apate--deception, trickery, cheating, guile--and in keeping with that word, the Apaturia celebrated a legendary Athenian act of deception that gave them the victory in a war with Boeotia. A certain Melanthos, a legendary ancestor of Solon (and hence of Plato), putting himself forward as the Athenian champion in the single combat that would decide the war, devised a ruse which enabled him to defeat and kill the Boeotian champion. Through his victory Melanthos ascended to the kingship of Athens. Kritias's ancestors thus came to rule Athens through a famous deception that happened to be celebrated at the very festival during which Kritias first heard the tale of Athens' victory over Atlantis.
Kritias heard the tale on the third day of the Apaturia, called Kureotis, the day of youths. On this day the boys to be initiated into the phratries engaged in a contest of recitations. There, in the midst of a contest of boys reciting remembered poems, Kritias's ninety-year-old grandfather recited the tale of Atlantis. It happened that the poems the boys had been reciting at the Kureotis that year singled out Solon, Athens' lawgiver, and old Kritias's tale will assign Solon an ascendant place. In the midst of the recitations, a member of the Brotherhood, a certain Amynander, whose name means "man who defends," declared that Solon was not only the wisest of men but in poetry the most noble of poets. Is this truth or flattery? Kritias himself forces this question because he reports that Amynander may not have believed his own claim but have spoken it only as deceptive flattery to compliment old Kritias(33) There is no doubt that it had the effect of flattery for it goaded old Kritias into praise of Solon that exceeds all bounds. Had Athens' troubles not forced him to take up other matters, had Solon been able to dedicate himself solely to poetry, his fame would have surpassed that of Homer or Hesiod.(34) Old Kritias's proof for this outrageous claim is that Solon had a tale to tell of the greatest of all human exploits. Kritias's statements about Solon's fame and Solon's theme imply that if Solon had only had time to tell this tale, Greeks would most remember Solon's tale of Athens' defeat of Atlantis, not Homer's tale of the war with Troy or Hesiod's tale of the coming to be of the gods. The tale we are about to hear failed to achieve its deserved renown because Solon was just too busy with Athenian affairs to record it. Thus did Homer and Hesiod ascend to a supremacy undue them; they wrongly became the educators of Greece.(35) Now that an old Athenian has the leisure to finally tell Solon's tale, could it perhaps ascend to its fitting supremacy and replace Homer and Hesiod as it deserved to from the beginning?
According to Plato's account of the Kureotis that year, instead of a boy reciting a remembered poem at a festival celebrating an Athenian victory by deception, a very old man recited a never-told poem of a very different Athenian victory. A little boy remembered it and recites it now at a festival celebrating Athena when he in turn is very old, and the story he tells would have replaced the poems of Homer and Hesiod had the great Athenian Solon only been free to tell it at the right time.
Is it possible to imagine a more graceful setting for one of Plato's great deceptions? Placing the first telling of his invention of Atlantis on the day when all Athenians celebrate victorious Athenian deception, Plato, Solon's descendent, invents a tale of Athens at war and, like Homer and Hesiod, sets that tale in the broader setting of the cosmos and the gods. Plato's Atlantis tale is poetry, loyalty-enhancing poetry, fit to be recited by boys entering the ancient Brotherhood's preparatory to Athenian citizenship. It is too late for that poem to be an actual part of Athens' past. It is not too late, however, to act as if it would have been a part of that past had that past not been so turbulent that it forced the wisest Athenian away from poetry. It is not too late to tell it now, on Athena's day, and from now on to act as if the tale that should have been told had always been told. Thus does Plato solve the philosopher's problem of innovation: where only the old can be respected, he acts as if the newest of the new were really older than the old. He lets us know that he is solving that problem by placing his tale during the Apaturia and its celebration of victory-bringing deception. Athenian ascendancy, gained late, after the Persian wars, an ascendancy that some Athenians were planning to augment during this Peace of Nicias, would thus be given its legitimacy in stories which replaced the epic poetry in which Athens played a negligible part ill-befitting its present and future greatness.
If a setting in the Apaturia suggests the proper perspective from which to understand the fabulous tale told by Kritias, it seems to suggest as well the perspective from which to understand the still more fabulous tale told by Timaeus. Timaeus's cosmology is framed by Kritias's Athens-Atlantis tale. If the proper placement for Timaeus's cosmology makes it a long pause in the legitimating myth of Athenian ascendancy, then the cosmology itself is to be seen as mythic, as cosmos-creating, god-creating poetry whose uses are political and not scientific. Like Homer, Plato places his defining war in the broader setting of the cosmos and the gods. Timaeus's cosmology replaces Homer's and Hesiod's: while decently providing a place for their gods, it leaves those gods with no possibility of actually taking part in the affairs of men. In addition, it is silent on the Homeric heroes while providing a new view of the cosmos within which all great human deeds are performed, including those deeds which it exists to preface: the deeds of the city at war.
The tale venerable Kritias tells takes the place of earlier tales told by Homer and Hesiod, and it is a tale that grounds Athens' leadership of Hellas: not the defeat of Persia but the far earlier, far greater defeat of Atlantis justifies Athens' continued dominance of Greece. Why, then, is Hermokrates of Syracuse audience to this great tale of Athenian ascendancy?
Three: Hermokrates of Syracuse. Throughout a night in the summer of 413, the Syracusan army celebrated in honor of Heracles. While the drinking and revelry continued, a general by the name of Hermokrates, son of Herman, pondered alone the perilous military situation his city faced. A mighty army of invaders still threatened his island of Sicily even though the main force had been defeated in a great naval battle earlier that day, a battle Thucydides said matched in ferocity any battle up to that point in the Peloponnesian war.(36) Now, however, if the surviving army was allowed to escape, it might disappear into the frontier only to return later to threaten Syracuse again.
The invaders had arrived two years before, under false pretenses--not as allies seeking to assist friends but as conquerors. They ruled the most powerful empire in the Mediterranean based on a mastery of the sea built up over decades of daring. Despite the acknowledged superior prowess of their sea-faring enemy, the Syracusans had inflicted on them a great naval defeat. Their massive imperial adventure, thinly masked under a veil of friendship, was now in jeopardy and could be brought to total ruin with quick action.
Hermokrates had to act alone. Because of the religious festival and the drunken state of the army, the other Syracusan generals believed it impossible to persuade or compel their soldiers to do anything to stop the invaders' retreat. Hermokrates therefore took matters into his own hands and devised a ruse that would stymie the escape he could not otherwise prevent. He secretly dispatched a false message that would reach the commander of the invaders warning them that all the roads and passes were heavily guarded. Knowing the credulous temperament of his foreign counterpart, Hermokrates could have some confidence that his ruse would work. As a result of his trickery, the invaders delayed their retreat for two crucial days giving the Syracusans time to recover and in fact guard the roads and passes and block the invaders' escape.
By the time the 40,000 invaders finally began their delayed retreat, Hermokrates, with the help of Gyllipus the Spartan commander, had set in motion an offensive plan to block the retreat and capture and destroy the whole invading force. Hermokrates' action resembled the plan of Themistocles the Athenian who, a few generations earlier, had blocked the retreat of the Persians after that invading army from the east had been defeated at the decisive naval battle of Salamis.(37) For six days, however, Hermokrates had been successful only in engaging the invaders in several small skirmishes. The decisive moment had eluded him, and it looked as if the large force might actually slip away. Then, quite unexpectedly, under the duress of a constantly harried retreat, the invaders split their forces in half--a tactical blunder of staggering proportions. The Syracusans immediately routed one group, annihilating all but 6,000 of the men.(38) The other group made a desperate frontal assault, a direct push to fight their way to freedom. At the river Assinarus that remnant of the invading army was crushed. Of the 40,000 soldiers who began the desperate flight after the naval defeat a mere 7,000 remained--and even this remainder met their final miserable fate as prisoners in the terrifying squalor of the Syracusan quarries.(39)
These invaders from the east, a threat to the whole western Mediterranean, had been defeated by a smaller but courageous force brilliantly led by a wise general who knew the ways of his enemy and how best to counter them.(40) Thus did the greatest imperial adventure of Athens come to a ruinous end, thanks in no small measure to Hermokrates of Syracuse. Plato's art places Hermokrates in Athens eight years earlier, in the summer of 421, as silent auditor of a tale of Athens' victory over a sea-faring power from the west whose imperial ambitions threatened the whole eastern Mediterranean.
Thucydides paints Hermokrates as a very special character, a brilliant student of Athenian ways who became a most successful anti-Athenian because he adopted the keys to Athenian success, transforming his Doric city into the Athens-like enemy of Athens. Thucydides goes so far as to call him a man "second to none in point of intelligence"(41) and allows us to witness that intelligence in Hermokrates's speeches and deeds. It is first displayed in his remarkable speech at Gela in 424--"a masterpiece of statesmanly foresight"(42)--by which he united Doric and Ionian Sicilians against Athenian imperialism using an argument that counters in an Athenian manner Athens' own argument on behalf of its imperialism.(43) It has been well said of this speech that "Hermocrates casts Athens as the new Mede, Syracuse as the new Athens--and himself as the new Themistocles."(44)
Immediately after his description of the glorious departure of the Athenian fleet for Sicily in 415, Thucydides switches abruptly to Syracuse and the debate about Athenian intentions, and he begins with Hermokrates' speech.(45) Hermokrates knows full well that the Athenians are coming, and he knows too how to use the threat of their coming to cement an alliance among Sicilians that would place all under Syracusan leadership. Moreover, Hermokrates has already devised an intricate and aggressive strategy to meet and defeat the Athenian fleet while it is still underway, thus thwarting their whole offensive before it reached Sicily. Hermokrates' strategic analysis matches Athenian daring with Syracusan daring and is acknowledged by a modern expert in trireme warfare to be a "penetrating" analysis with a high likelihood of success.(46)
In the speech which he prefaces with his own testimony to Hermokrates' intelligence, experience, and courage, Thucydides shows Hermokrates in the winter of 415/4, after a defeat at the hands of the Athenians, rallying his countrymen and giving them the sound advice which led both to his own election as general and eventually to their victory.(47) Hermokrates' speech at Camarina, which follows almost immediately,(48) again refuses to denounce Athenian imperialism, for such imperialism, as Athenian spokesmen repeatedly state, is completely natural. Hermokrates denounces instead the failure of those subjected to that imperialism to respond in kind.
Hermokrates' response in kind is further characterized in a speech aimed to rally his countrymen to challenge Athens at sea where Athenian supremacy was all too easily granted by Athenian foes.(49) Refusing to grant it, Hermokrates argues that Athenian maritime skill was not a legacy from their fathers nor a possession for all time, but rather a consequence of being forced to become nautical under Themistocles due to the threat of the Persians. Now the Syracusans under Hermokrates are forced to become nautical due to the threat of the Athenians. The Syracusans must confront daring with daring, exhibiting to the Athenians the very qualities Athens used to terrorize her foes.(50) Though the initial conflict at sea confirmed Syracusan inexperience and handed Athens the victory,(51) their recognition that they could well have won, plus the rigorous training and constant practice subsequently encouraged by Hermokrates, led eventually to Syracusan confidence(52) and to victory in the decisive sea battles.
By making this great anti-Athenian general who adopted Athenian ways the silent auditor of Kritias's glorification of ancient Athens, Plato gives Kritias's Atlantis speech an unexpected and unsettling new content. He forces a comparison between ancient Atlantis and present-day Athens in its great Sicilian enterprise, its own "Atlantian" undertaking. That enterprise too, like the enterprise of the Atlantians, was a maritime adventure by an imperial sea power, and it too was defeated by a single city standing alone against a mighty enemy, and the defeat led to the permanent decline of the imperial invader. By stationing Hermokrates at this conversation in the summer of 421, Plato opens a whole new constellation of issues about Athens and imperialism.
In 421, however, Hermokrates is known to Socrates only from the reports of others which speak highly of his nature and training.(53) The Hermokrates of Timaeus-Critias is evidently a younger man who, though his greatest achievements still lie ahead of him, had already ascended to a position of leadership in Syracuse and indeed in Sicily. From the memorable portrait painted by Thucydides, he is a man of the highest competence, hostile to Athenian ambition, patriotic to his country, and keen with vision and foresight.(54) Is there any indication in the Timaeus-Critias of this great enemy statesman's future deeds?
Ancient and modern commentators, in considering Hermokrates' actual role in the Timaeus-Critias, have focused on the possible content of the "missing" dialogue Hermocrates, but their speculations have been almost wholly fictional, because they have neglected entirely the suggestion made by the Timaeus-Critias itself about the content of Hermokrates' promised speech. Hermokrates speaks twice, once in each dialogue. His only speech in the Timaeus(55) is the first response to Socrates' repetition of what he had prescribed for today's speeches: he is the one who reports that they have devised a plan that alters Socrates' prescription. On their way back to Kritias's house last night, Hermokrates reports, Kritias told them that Socrates' city reminded him of an ancient tale about Athens passed down within his own family. The foreigner Hermokrates, a most intelligent and observant enemy of Athens, the city that posed a great threat to the well-being and expansion of his own city, is the first to mention Kritias's patriotic tale: he has his own pressing reasons for wanting to hear that tale.
When Kritias reports their plans for today's speeches,(56) he makes no mention of a speech by Hermokrates, stating only that Timaeus will first set out the origins of the cosmos up to the generation of humanity and that he, Kritias, will then take over with his tale of ancient Athens. It becomes apparent soon enough, however, that they have planned a speech for Hermokrates as well, for when Hermokrates speaks in the Critias he calls attention to the difficulty of the task assigned to him.(57) Timaeus had just finished speaking and Kritias, the next speaker, had repeated a request for Socrates' indulgence--a request first made by Timaeus when the speeches began. Kritias claimed a right to a still larger measure of indulgence because his assigned topic is more difficult than Timaeus's: Timaeus spoke of matters about which the listeners are necessarily inexperienced and ignorant, knowledge of the gods. With such topics we can be satisfied, Kritias says, if the account possesses a small degree of likelihood.(58) We can doubt whether Socrates applies such a lax measure to the topic of the gods, for Socrates' city in the Republic had devised strict criteria to measure stories of the gods from the perspective of the well-being of the city. Socrates' city tolerated only those stories about the gods which teach that they are responsible only for the good, that they do not lie, and, most emphatically, that they do not war among themselves. Above all, Socrates condemned as "the biggest lie about the biggest things" any story that would suggest that the divine order was established by a crime, by warfare among the highest beings.(59) Timaeus's cosmology and theology fit for a city at war is being silently measured by a reforming theologian bent on burying Homer's warring gods.
Why did Kritias think he had a harder task than Timaeus's immense cosmological and theological task?--because he speaks of mortal and human things, things we all can measure. In making his case for the greater difficulty of his task, Kritias says that we are most critical of representations of that with which we are most familiar.(60) Expecting to be held to a more exacting standard, Kritias requests a greater degree of indulgence. Socrates not only grants Kritias's request, he anticipates the same request from Hermokrates when his turn to speak arrives and he grants Hermokrates indulgence in advance.(61)
Hermokrates then speaks for the final time, taking Socrates' words to be a warning addressed to him as well. He does not define his own topic but instead makes a fitting speech for a great general, rallying Kritias to advance manfully and to invoke the aid of both Apollo of Victory and the Muses in exhibiting and celebrating the excellence of his own ancient citizens; only with their aid could Kritias hope to have a trophy raised to himself. In response, Kritias warns Hermokrates that his time is coming: standing in the last rank of the phalanx he is, for now, still sheltered by Kritias, but Hermokrates's need for courage will arrive soon enough. Aware of the difficulty of his own task Kritias adds to the list of gods Hermokrates recommended he invoke; he calls upon all the gods but names one in particular: Mnemosyne's grace will be especially needed for Kritias's speech, the speech of a very old man on very old things. The others will not be able to measure his speech by their own memory but only by their knowledge of human affairs and human nature.
The topic of Hermokrates' speech, never directly stated, can now be accurately inferred. Kritias has provided the rationale for a trajectory of speeches that will reach its peak in difficulty with the speech of the man in the last row of the phalanx. Their speeches are increasingly difficult because they deal with the more and more familiar and hence the more and more easily judged. Hermokrates has the most difficult topic because it is the topic about which they will all have the most direct experience. It will, therefore, concern neither gods about whom we are inexperienced and ignorant and dependent upon the Muses, nor ancient human matters about which we have no direct experience and are dependent upon Mnemosyne and the reports she allows to be passed down by the aged. Hermokrates' speech will therefore concern human matters about which all the interlocutors have, or will have, direct experience: present and future matters for which courageous Hermokrates can call on the aid of Apollo of Victory and for which he is destined to have a victory trophy raised to himself by his own people.
Plato thus seems to have arranged for a series of speeches that pass from the cosmos, to the mythic past, to the historic present and future, speeches culminating in a speech about Athens' greatest imperial endeavor by the single individual most responsible for crushing it. Hermokrates is to speak on that matter which the tale of Atlantis and Athens has beautifully prepared and about which he is singularly fit to speak: Athens engaged in imperial war in the present and future against his own people of Syracuse.
The missing speech by Hermokrates would have been a marvel of a speech. It would have rivaled Thucydides--and rivaled Solon--in depicting Athens as an imperial power setting sail out of the east against the island of Sicily and eventually the whole western Mediterranean--Athens as a mighty people with a storied past setting out to enlarge its empire by swallowing up a smaller, weaker people on its way to greater glory. Plato indicates, however, that such an undertaking would come at a high price, for the missing speech of Hermokrates would resemble in content the missing speech of Zeus prepared by the final lines of the Critias. It would have spoken of the punishment accorded an imperial city acting out of hubris but flawed in its actions.
Hermokrates' speech cannot be given at the gathering Plato has contrived because its culminating events still lie in the future. The contents of that speech can well be anticipated by the author, the Athenian philosopher who must know intimately the events of 415-413 in which Hermokrates played the essential role against imperial Athens.
If Hermokrates, however, the brilliant young scourge of Athenian glory, is one of the three present for the celebration of the fabulous Athenian past and the grounding of Athenian might in the will of the goddess and the greatness of her citizens, who must the absent fourth be? Who should have been present at this elevation of Athens and foreboding of its demise and was not? Who but the brilliant young architect and moving force of that expansion of Athenian glory which the Sicilian expedition was meant to be? Who but Alkibiades?
Four: Alkibiades. When we consider that the general theme of the Timaeus-Critias is the city at war and that the great cosmology of Timaeus (which most commentators sever from its setting) lies nested within specific themes of political philosophy including a myth of ancient Athenian greatness according to which it succeeded in defeating an imperial maritime power that invaded it from the west--and when we consider that the dialogue's interlocutors consist of Socrates and men counted both philosophers and statesmen and that among these interlocutors is the general most responsible for defeating Athens' great Sicilian invasion--and when we consider that that imperial maritime expedition was proposed, conceived, and led, up to the last minute, by Alkibiades--then we are led to conclude that Plato, by beginning these paired dialogues with Socrates' ostentatious flaunting of one absent interlocutor, points to the absence of that one individual who could have played the pivotal role in the great Athenian imperial events to come and whose attentive presence at a conference like this--were it only possible--might have made all the difference. Alkibiades, who dreamed of imperial conquest and who, in the view of Thucydides himself, possessed the talent to make the dream real, must be the absent fourth in Plato's depiction of a whole cosmos within which great human undertakings occur.(62)
Were the cast complete, an old Athenian statesman would have laid out the mythic background of Athenian greatness during a pause in the great war between Ionians and Dorians, and he would have done so in the presence of decisive actors in that war--and in the presence of the Athenian philosopher who had himself set up the conversation with his own speech yesterday. Is Alkibiades a fit heir to the ancient greatness of Athens, as Hermokrates will prove a fit heir to the ancient greatness of the Dorians? Alkibiades is absent and Hermokrates is present: Hermokrates will prove to be the new Themistocles to his people. What are we to make of this contrast between the absence of Alkibiades and the presence of Hermokrates? Does it mean that Plato believed that had Alkibiades been present--had he attended to the cosmic and civic setting of great human enterprises--Athens' Sicilian enterprise could have succeeded? That in fact something much deeper is meant comes to light when the Timaeus-Critias is considered alongside the Platonic dialogues in which Alkibiades is significant.
Plato's dialogues display the relationship between Socrates and Alkibiades as a singularity. No individual but Socrates is mentioned in the dialogues as often as Alkibiades or appears as often as Alkibiades. Plato shows Socrates pursuing Alkibiades with so great an ardor that his pursuit became the occasion for jokes and scorn.(63) Socrates says of himself that he has only two loves, philosophy and Alkibiades, son of Kleinias.(64) And, at the end, when Socrates is charged with corrupting the young, his notorious association with Alkibiades is the most prominent evidence, and it requires an explanation.(65)
Plato's presentation of Socrates' pursuit of Alkibiades begins with the Protagoras, for the Protagoras is set during the Panathenean festival of 434 and is therefore the earliest of the Platonic dialogues in dramatic setting.(66) It displays an unprecedented meeting of great Sophists in Athens, where Socrates, the thirty-five year old local champion of talk, shames the world champion, compelling the sixty-five year old Protagoras to resign in defeat before the whole group of admirers and competitors--and just after he had boasted that he had never ever been defeated in a contest of talk in his whole long career. Why does Socrates so shamelessly whip old Protagoras both in dialectic and in long speeches? Why does Socrates, on this occasion, indulge in such uncharacteristic self-display? The dialogue itself suggests that, in part, Socrates parades his talents in order to charm Alkibiades. For the opening of the dialogue alerts us not only to a Socrates already famous for pursuing Alkibiades, it alerts us as well to Socrates' success on this very occasion, informing us in advance that Alkibiades had rallied to Socrates' side and spoken on his behalf.(67) The attention Socrates seemed to lavish on the silly young Hippokrates in order to defend him from the corrupting influence of the Sophists veils the attention Socrates in fact lavished on the sixteen year old Alkibiades. Socrates defends Alkibiades from the powerful lure of the Sophists by displaying his own superiority at their game and wins him over to his own side. For the Alkibiades who "said much on my behalf"(68) spoke up three times and all three speeches have the same purpose: defending Socrates.
Alkibiades' first and primary speech occurs at the center of the dialogue.(69) It is a remarkable outburst made just after Socrates had stood up to leave, claiming that Protagoras had reneged on their earlier bargain to engage in dialectic. The sixteen year old lover of victory(70) jumps into the fray at this critical moment and takes Socrates' side. First, he rebukes their host Kallias for his ignorance of fair play, and then he challenges famous old Protagoras whom the others have just applauded, for Alkibiades sees clearly that what they applauded was in fact only an evasive tactic by a fighter on the brink of defeat. Either fight it out in dialectic as you agreed, says this brash youth to their esteemed guest, or you will have shown yourself a fraud. You may be able to spin out long speeches that impress almost everyone by causing them to forget the issue, but it's very unlikely that Socrates has forgotten--nor, implies Alkibiades have I.(71) Alkibiades ends his outburst in a marvelously politic way. Now that he has shown everybody what actually happened and indicated what their appropriate response should be, he lets everyone declare their own opinion. Plato's young Alkibiades already demonstrates a gift for democratic politics.
Of those who could see through Protagoras's desperate little game--Socrates and Alkibiades--only Alkibiades makes it known to the ignorantly applauding audience that Protagoras is being beaten. Socrates seems content to leave, keeping his victory a near secret between himself and Protagoras and anyone else who might have noticed, thus allowing old Protagoras to save face and keep intact his unbroken, life-long string of victories. Or has Socrates measured his audience and staged his little tantrum? Given that Socrates is introduced at the beginning as the pursuer of Alkibiades who had a big success that day, given as well that Socrates has observed Alkibiades for years and knows that he can count on his innate sense of justice or fair play,(72) it seems necessary to conclude that Socrates has in fact just staged an elaborate act in order to force Alkibiades to rally to his side as his single advocate and ally.(73) The earliest view we receive of Socrates in the Platonic corpus (aside from the retrospectives of the Phaedo, the Parmenides, the Symposium, and the Apology) displays a mature friend of Athenian youth, who is an ardent, calculating pursuer of one very special Athenian youth, a youth who is on the brink of manhood, just sprouting a beard,(74) and who, according to Plutarch, had many strong passions, but none more potent than his desire to challenge others and gain the upper hand over his rivals.(75) Alkibiades' political talents are confirmed by his two subsequent interventions in the Protagoras. They show that Alkibiades has tacitly become what they allegedly did not need, the overseer or president of their assembly,(76) an overseer who intervenes strategically to keep the conversation going in the agreed upon manner, a fair manner but one bound to serve Socrates' advantage. Alkibiades' second speech commands Hippias not to give the speech of self-display he is all too eager to give--"some other time, Hippias"(77)--and forces a reluctant Protagoras to continue his debate with Socrates. His third and final speech comes after Protagoras continues to remain silent in the face of Socrates' proposal that he submit to Socrates' questions.(78) Addressing their host, Kallias, and thereby the whole assembly, Alkibiades comes to Socrates' aid by intimating Protagoras's defeat if he refuses to answer Socrates' questions. "Shamed by Alkibiades" and by the majority he now commands,(79) Protagoras submits to the questioning that leads to Socrates' victory over him. The acute and commanding young Alkibiades will have learned from this occasion that he cannot look to the famous Sophists for wisdom and counsel in the ambitions he is nurturing, but what about this mysterious Socrates who has not yet deigned even to talk with him?
The nature of Socrates' pursuit, its strategies, aims, and forebodings, is graphically displayed in the dialogue devoted to the first private conversation between Socrates and Alkibiades, Alkibiades Major. It is two years later, 432, and Alkibiades, about to turn eighteen, is preparing to mount the public stage in Athens to pursue the political career he has so passionately awaited and for which he is so singularly fit, for with his eighteenth birthday comes the right to address the assembly and enter public life as a player--and when Alkibiades mounts the stage he means to dominate it. Socrates had long fascinated and vexed him by his evident attentions and his equally evident aloofness, and he had remained attentive even now as the bloom of youth turned into the vigor of young manhood and all of Alkibiades's other lovers had departed as law and ardor required. Having goaded Alkibiades into wonderment about himself,(80) Socrates finally acts. He acts just before Alkibiades himself would have acted, for Alkibiades had had just about enough of this annoying treatment and was about to tell Socrates what he thought of it. However, the shadowy and observant Socrates speaks first and piously assures his beloved that his years of careful restraint were dictated by his cautionary divine sign.(81) Now he seems to speak without restraint. Exhibiting a knowledge of Alkibiades that jerks him into guarded alertness, Socrates speaks of Alkibiades' most secret and outlandish wish, not at all as its critic or judge but in order to endorse it and encourage it and to offer himself as an ally. In his first private conversation with Alkibiades, Socrates presents himself as the indispensable aide-de-camp to Alkibiades' dream of becoming master of the world.
In the ensuing conversation Socrates easily tames and masters his young quarry and, in a second long speech, teaches him that he will have to dream higher because he doesn't know the true greatness of his true rivals. Reduced to begging, made pliant by unwonted defeat and shame, and by the promise of still greater and realizable dreams, spirited young Alkibiades fails wholly under Socrates' command, for now he exudes willingness to take trouble over whatever Socrates shows to be of importance. The promises Socrates has made for their alliance have been made wholly in terms of Alkibiades's primary love, love of "becoming renowned,"(82) love of a personal imperium without limit. Despite all his calculation and all his ardor, however, Socrates will ultimately fail and the dialogue ends on a foreboding of that failure: not even Socrates can neutralize the strength of the city in a nature like Alkibiades' and instruct him in a higher love. Socrates is willing but the god is not.
A second private conversation between Socrates and Alkibiades, Alkibiades Minor, must take place shortly thereafter, for the dialogue shows Socrates at the second stage of his campaign while showing Alkibiades still ready to be remade. Moreover, this dialogue treats the same theme, Alkibiades' youthful and limitless ambition. Arresting Alkibiades on his way to offer a prayer to the god, Socrates attempts to teach him caution on the greatest things--on what to wish for or what to pray a god will grant.(83) Wishing to become tyrant over all men and thinking all men wish the same, Alkibiades is forced to hear that a Spartan prayer is far wiser: the prayer that the god grant what is good whether we pray for it or not and not grant the bad even if we pray for it. Socrates doubts that Alkibiades can pray the Spartan prayer because his "greatness of soul" will keep him from it.(84) Such "megalopsyche" had been said to be a state of soul found among the unwise that is milder than madness but still a disorder.(85) The image employed by Socrates puts Alkibiades in need of a god to clear his sight, as Athena had cleared the mist from Diomedes' eyes. Avowing his readiness to put himself in the hands of the god, Alkibiades delays his intended prayer and instead bestows the garland on Socrates for his good advice.(86) Yet Alkibiades needs to give Socrates more than a garland, for Socrates is ready to advise more than mere delay. If Socrates is to do for Alkibiades what Athena did for Diomedes, Alkibiades must truly pray the Spartan prayer, but that he apparently was never ready to do. Socrates was always only a means to fulfill his wish, never the means to alter it--for what was Alkibiades' perspective on these efforts by Socrates recorded in the two Alkibiades dialogues to bring Alkibiades under his sway? Plato does not abandon us to speculation on this question for he contrives to have Alkibiades himself inform us at the appropriate moment in the appropriate way: the evening of speeches reported in the Symposium ends with Alkibiades' speech, the definitive speech on the relationship between Socrates and Alkibiades from Alkibiades' perspective.
Meanwhile, the summer of 421, when the Timaeus-Critias unfolds, marks another crucial year in the life of Alkibiades, for he turned thirty that year, and thirty marked a milestone for Athenian men. At that age men could serve in the Senate and as General of the army.(87) From that year forward, the supremely ambitious Alkibiades could be a statesman and follow in the footsteps of his maternal uncle, Perikles, perhaps Athens' most famed statesman and one of the architects of Athenian imperial greatness. Alkibiades aimed to outstrip even Perikles, however, whose conservative strategy had guided Athens' conduct of the war. For Alkibiades had devised the contrary and much more ambitious strategy that could have led to decisive Athenian victory, first in the Peloponnese and then in Sicily and the west. Alkibiades' ambitious strategy abandoned Perikles' cautious curtailing of Athenian imperial expansion. Instead, through intelligent diplomatic plotting, Athens would take the war to Sparta and eventually open Sicily and the whole of the western Mediterranean to realistic Athenian ambition. Thucydides himself suggests that Alkibiades' strategy was matched by Alkibiades' talents and that it could have succeeded had he been permitted by the Athenians to pursue it in his own way.(88) In the summer of 421 Alkibiades is preparing to launch his new Athenian imperialism--and Plato paints him absent from the conversation of Timaeus-Critias which provides a new setting for human action and a new model of imperial enterprise, a conversation attended by his most intelligent enemy.
One year later, in 420, Alkibiades had become the dominant force in Athenian politics and had begun to put his anti-Periklean imperial strategy into play. Plato's two Hippias dialogues are set in that year and have Alkibiades as their omnipresent but unnamed background, for it was Alkibiades who masterminded the great political event that provided the setting for the dialogues.(89) Alkibiades' diplomatic strategy for Athenian dominance of the Peloponnese and an end to Spartan hegemony brought ambassadors from non-Spartan Peloponnesian powers to Athens for a great conference in 420. Hippias the Sophist was sent as ambassador from Elis, and although he boasted of his omni-competence, he proves himself a poor diplomat, unfit for an Alkibiadian strategy, judging from Hippias Minor: he is unwilling to follow Socrates in ranking versatile Odysseus a better man than Achilles because he is able to hide one thing in his mind but say something else.(90) Versatile Alkibiades would surely have followed Socrates in this judgment, given his outrageous but altogether successful performance with the Spartan ambassadors at that conference.(91)
Four years later, in the winter of 416, another crucial event in the life histories of Athens and Alkibiades occurs, the profaning of the Eleusinian mysteries. Plato's Symposium, set just after Agathon's victory at the Lenaia in early February 416, allows us to peer into a private gathering perhaps held on one of the very nights on which the crime was committed, the crime for which Alkibiades would become a chief suspect, leading to the folly of his recall from the Sicilian expedition whose success depended on his presence. The recall led eventually to Alkibiades' betrayal of Athens. Among the many consequences of that betrayal was the suspicion it raised in Athenians against Socrates, who had paraded himself as Alkibiades' most avid lover--perhaps Socrates' trial in 399 must itself be counted among the eventual consequences of that betrayal. Just what responsibility did Socrates bear for the actions of this great Athenian criminal?
Plato's Symposium is in part concerned with this question, and it leads us backward to 416 through the framework of an opening conversation which took place much later, most likely in 399.(92) In that year the whole issue of the profaning of the mysteries in 416 was reopened by the trial of Andokides and led to a frenzy of religious enthusiasm and persecution, an atmosphere conducive to the eventual accusation and trial of Socrates later that year.(93) There is an evident urgency behind the opening conversation of the Symposium for it seems necessary to men with no interest in philosophy but an acute interest in Socrates and Alkibiades that they find out immediately just what was said at a private gathering about which they have heard certain rumors. Plato not only provides his dialogue with this precise audience, he provides it twice, for just the day before yesterday Apollodorus had had to relate the same tale to a man with similar interests. Plato then has Apollodorus take his audiences back into the secrecy of a private gathering held in 416, report of which has been passed down by Socrates' fanatical devotees. The opening audience named Alkibiades as present at that private gathering, but when they are conducted back by the authoritative report, Alkibiades is not there. Once again, the readers of Plato's dialogues are presented with an absent Alkibiades.
Wholly absent from the salutary speeches on the cosmos and imperialism attended by his rival Hermokrates, Alkibiades arrives too late for the speeches on Eros in the Symposium, just too late for Socrates' speech on Eros and the cosmos, a speech giving an order of rank to the loves and placing Alkibiades' high love beneath Socrates' highest love.(94) Absent when Socrates tells of a certain Diotima who taught him that the cosmos itself is ordered by love and ought to draw our love, Alkibiades arrives in time to contribute a speech on love and to announce that Socrates had failed to love him. He failed, drunken Alkibiades states, because Socrates, the teacher of a whole new range of the erotic as those present for his speech have just heard, is lacking in eroticism.
Alkibiades' speech about his relations with Socrates takes the audience of the Symposium further back in time and privacy, back "before Potidaia" to the night they spent in bed together.(95) Before Potidaia means the early months of 432, the very months in which Socrates first began speaking with Alkibiades as recorded in the two Alkibiades. What we learn from Alkibiades' unguarded speech in the Symposium is his own attempt at victory over Socrates--his attempted seduction of Socrates--during the very time that Socrates was attempting to win the victory over him or bring him under the sway of his influence. Alkibiades, lover of victory, is shamed and humiliated by Socrates' apparent refusal of him. Socrates failed with Alkibiades because these two hubristic men, each the most hubristic of his kind, could not yield to the way of the other. Alkibiades grounds his refusal of Socrates on Socrates' refusal of him but at the same time he confesses what his refusal of Socrates meant: when he leaves Socrates' presence he is worsted by the honors of the multitude.(96) Plato confirms the judgment of Xenophon that Alkibiades was able to overpower his ignoble desires only while he was in Socrates' company and using him as an ally.(97)
The audience so insistently provided at the beginning of the Symposium thus learns from the most unimpeachable of sources that Socrates cannot be held responsible for the crimes of Alkibiades. Not only does Alkibiades remind that audience of what they should know on their own, Socrates' civic virtue and his courage at Potidaia and Delium, he tells them what he alone is able to tell, for on this night Alkibiades profanes the erotic mysteries of Socrates: in the deepest privacy, alone in bed with the beautiful Alkibiades, Socrates was so high-minded and so chaste that Alkibiades could not corrupt him.
This last long gaze at Alkibiades in the Platonic corpus, a gaze at an Alkibiades long lost to Socrates, writes the appropriate epitaph to Socrates' failed pursuit of the most promising political man of his generation. Demanded and heard by an audience with a wholly political interest in Socrates, the Symposium absolves Socrates of the charge of corrupting Alkibiades and provides at the same time the essential explanation and defense of the failed side of Socrates' two loves: his eros for philosophy so succeeded that his eros for Alkibiades was thought wanting by Alkibiades himself.
The Symposium closes the relationship between Socrates and Alkibiades in the Platonic corpus and it does so with many echoes of the Protagoras which opened it eighteen years earlier. The Protagoras provides us with a vision of hope, a determined Socrates and a youthful, spirited Alkibiades in a time when Athenian imperial splendor was at its zenith. Many of the same people are present in the Symposium on a night of dark portent for imperial Athens. Alkibiades has developed from a sixteen year old youth of limitless promise to the brilliant but intractable leader of the Athenian demos who here reveals why he came to reject the thinker on whose behalf he had spoken out so boldly and so justly eighteen years earlier. Socrates has not been cured of his love for Alkibiades, but he so defines the loves that it becomes clear why he pursued Alkibiades the way he did and why his pursuit was judged by Alkibiades to be worthless. Pursued with unmatched devotion by a Socrates bent on winning him, the great Alkibiades proved unable to attend to the Socratic teaching on love, and unable to attend to the salutary new cosmology or the salutary teaching on the risks of an all too great hubris in imperial undertakings. Absent when it mattered most, Alkibiades stands as the most prominent failure of Socrates' politics, a failure with incalculable consequences for Athens, and not because Socrates "corrupted" Alkibiades but because he couldn't.
There is still one final theme that points to Alkibiades as the absent fourth in the Timaeus-Critias, and it suggests that with respect to imperial politics Socrates was not ultimately a failure, for the great theme of imperialism, particularly Athenian imperialism, is not exhausted by the aspirations of an Alkibiades.
Athenian Imperialism. The cosmology presented in the Timaeus is enclosed within Kritias's accounts of the city in motion. A pause is engineered in the tale of ancient Athens' glorious defeat of Atlantis in order to view the cosmos within which such human enterprises occur. By pairing Timaeus and Critias, and by fitting Timaeus's cosmology within the account of the city in motion, Plato puts cosmology into the service of political philosophy. He thus suggests that the great deeds of human communities are necessarily enacted within a horizon and that the character of that horizon helps determine the success or failure of those deeds. The world of the city at war is the world as such, that is, a likely tale of the world likely told. Within the horizons of that world the city's actions on the ultimate matters of human enterprise comply with, or transgress, the simply ultimate things.
Plato provides such a horizon for human action with the cosmology related as a likely tale by Timaeus. When we reflect on that tale as an event of authorship which introduces a new cosmology, a whole new cosmos within which human action is understood to occur, it becomes evident that the greatest motion, the greatest imperial ambition, cannot be the actions of an Atlantis or an Athens, for however great they may be they remain motions within a horizon. The greatest imperial ambition is to change the horizon itself. Plato, not Alkibiades, aspires to the greatest imperial deed.
Timaeus's cosmology serves political philosophy in its greatest possible endeavor. The new cosmology, the new understanding of what rules the world, does what Solon's tale would have done generations ago if Solon had had time to relate it: it replaces the Homeric cosmology within which the Trojan war and all subsequent Greek wars were fought. That Homeric cosmology was dead or dying for Athenians open to the Greek enlightenment. Moreover, the lessons of war and plague as told by Thucydides opened that experience of the death of the gods to a wider population, spreading social chaos or what would now be called nihilism. A new cosmology replaces an older one at the moment in which it is already dying. While treating it with the dignity befitting an older world, it lets that world go. Socrates is the silent auditor of the new cosmology, not its author. Socratic aporia could not supply what is lacking after the death of the Homeric gods but a quasi-Pythagorean cosmos related by its competent advocate could. Socrates listens silently while a "philosophical" statesman provides the cosmic setting and cosmic justice for the ultimate deeds of humanity. Because he applauds(98) we must assume his approbation; because he is Socrates we must assume his doubts.
The tale of the cosmos told by Timaeus occurs within the tale of Atlantis told by Kritias: inventive Plato, master of tales, styles a cosmology for a new Athenian imperial politics. The cosmology of the Timaeus is not the cosmology of either Plato or Socrates; it is the cosmology a political philosopher puts into the mouth of an intelligent statesman at the turning of an age. Through his Pythagorean Timaeus, Plato outfits the Greek city with a cosmic setting compatible, to some degree, with the results of two centuries of Greek enlightenment though not dictated by them. For the new cosmology employs the politically usable gains of that enlightenment while suppressing what it takes to be of no political use, suppressing Demokritos, for instance, and the other Giants who tell of a silent universe of matter in motion heedless of human aspiration, indifferent to high and low--"howling bitches" the poets call such philosophers who presume to turn on their masters, the gods, and Plato sides with the poets against such rash practitioners of an impolitic philosophy.(99)
The enlightened cosmology Plato provides through his Timaeus exhibits its politic character not only in its treatment of the radical novelties of a Demokritos but also in its treatment of the most venerable tales. It is as polite about the poets' tales of the gods as its disbelief in them and its disapprobation of their morality allows. Alleging that we must believe them because they are the tales told by our forefathers who are, after all, the very offspring of the gods whom their tales celebrate,(100) Plato proceeds to accord such gods no possible place in the actual working of things. Platonic cities go to war within a cosmos freed of the whims of a Poseidon and an Athena though remembering their names and crediting them--in Kritias's tale--with founding deeds. Faced with the passing of the Homeric gods, Plato not only reformed Homeric theology radically in the Republic and the Laws, he provided a new cosmic setting for the city's greatest actions in the Timaeus-Critias. The Timaeus which set forth the new cosmology came to be synonymous with Platonism for over two millennia. Ancient commentators pored over the Timaeus more than any other dialogue. The Timaeus survived both Christian indifference and Christian war against ancient learning to become (in a partial Latin translation by Cicero and a later one by Chalcidius) the one work of Plato still studied in the millennium before the Renaissance recovered the other dialogues. Central to modern views of Plato through the nineteenth century, the preeminence of the Timaeus waned only when modern cosmology, an experimentally grounded development of Demokritos's cosmology, at last made evident to everyone the poetic fabulousness of the tale Socrates heard in silence.
Alkibiades is absent from the telling of that tale. The most talented and ambitious Athenian of his age, the young man most pursued by a politic Socrates who had turned from natural philosophy to political philosophy, failed to be attentive to the new tale of an orderly and moral cosmos. He could not be moderated by Socrates. That is, his ambitions could not be expanded and directed in the way Socrates counseled because such an expansion of ambition required that he temper other aspects of his flaring, his miraculous being, and that he could not do, nor could Socrates entice him into doing it. His absence from the Timaeus-Critias is a token of his intractability. He is "sick" with intractability.
If Socrates could not cure Alkibiades, however, he could cure Plato. Through the divine Plato Athenian expansionary imperialism followed a new path not yet trod by any man. The greatest ambition coupled with the greatest wisdom learned to ally itself with the greatest political power. With Plato philosophy learned to adopt a fitting rhetoric to advance itself and the Greek enlightenment. Timaeus-Critias is an example of that alliance of philosophy and rhetoric, the theory of which is presented in the Republic. For as Leo Strauss has shown in his exhibition of a long neglected structural feature of the Republic, Socrates and Thrasymachus became friends through the course of the discussion that night in the Piraeus.(101) Platonic political philosophy enlists rhetoric in order to secure a new view of an orderly cosmos just when the old Homeric complex of ideas and emotions falls apart. This new Platonic imperialism gave an Athenian stamp to European civilization for two millennia. Strauss is by no means alone in his great insight into Plato's politics, for he explicitly follows Alfarabi in his understanding of "the way of Plato" as symbolized by the friendship Socrates cements with Thrasymachus.(102)
Other great readers of Plato drew the same conclusion about Plato's imperial politics and none more tellingly than the bold author who presumed to write a New Atlantis--Francis Bacon, whose retelling of Plato's Atlantis tale signaled a new Timaeus and a new Critias, a new cosmology and a new philosophical imperialism to advance it. For Bacon was the philosophic founder and advocate of the new scientific method that revived the cosmology of Demokritos and the Greek atomists which had been swamped and almost obliterated by an all-too-successful Platonism and its competing, if fabulous, cosmology. In order to portray the imperial might of those equipped with his new method, Francis Bacon, in one of the great moments in the history of Western philosophy, turned to Plato's Atlantis tale. In total command of the political philosophy, cosmology, and rhetoric of the Timaeus-Critias, right down to its seemingly unfinished character which he chose to imitate, Bacon revised Plato's Atlantis tale for his own imperial purposes, a philosophical politics on behalf of a new enlightenment. Plato's Atlantis is replaced by Bacon's New Atlantis, an island in the Pacific fully in possession of Baconian science and equipped with a fitting rhetoric to serve its ends. Bacon's Atlantis aimed to succeed where Plato's Atlantis failed: Bacon's new Atlantis aspired to bring the whole of Europe under its imperial sway. The imperialism of Bacon's new Atlantis followed the way of Plato, not the way of old Atlantis. Equipped with an unparalleled navy and unparalleled weaponry, the new Atlantis did not place its trust in the power of superior forces or even of superior technology but in the power of a new rhetoric, a new set of promises for the human future, the alleged mastery of nature for the relief of the human estate. Bacon's new Atlantis succeeded, and, as Bacon anticipated, its success meant the overthrow of the old Platonic promises, a philosopher's pious fraud which had taken over Europe in a believer's form, a Platonism for the people, Christianity.
Other great philosophers such as Montaigne and Descartes attest to the imperial Plato. But the latest and most outspoken such witness is Nietzsche. For Nietzsche, Plato is the most beautiful growth of antiquity, the philosopher with the greatest strength so far who put all subsequent philosophers and theologians on the same track and gave his stamp to millennia. In Nietzsche's view, Plato's complex of ideas and emotions falls apart in our own time, and makes the need for a new horizon for human action as imperative at our turning of an age as it was at Plato's.
Epilogue: Plutarch on Athenian Imperialism. Among the quieter readers of Plato who recognized his great imperial aims was Plutarch whose spare comments provide a final series of insights into the Timaeus-Critias. In his Life of Nicias, Plutarch interrupts the account of the Athenian disaster in Sicily to make a small remark about Plato. Plato appears suddenly in the midst of Plutarch's report on Nikias's pious and disastrous worry about the eclipse of the moon which led him to fatally delay the Athenian escape. Such irrational piety contributed not only to the calamity in Sicily, Plutarch says, it led Athenians to punish Anaxagoras for his enlightened views about the moon, and Protagoras and Socrates for their enlightened views on other matters. After pointing to this history of disaster and persecution by the pious, Plutarch says:
It was not until later times that the radiant repute of Plato, because of the life the man led, and because he subjected the compulsions of the physical world to divine and more sovereign principles, took away the obloquy of such doctrines as these, and gave their science free course among all men.(103)
Plato saved Greek science from the persecution of the pious; Plato saved Greek policy from the superstitions of a Nikias. Plato's success is attributable to his reputation, Plutarch says, and his reputation, in turn, is attributable to two things: the life he led--perhaps in part its difference from Socrates' life of public questioning; and his sheltering of science within a system of explanation which gave place to the divine--the very matter that more outspoken commentators from Montaigne to Nietzsche speak of as Plato's willingness to employ pious fraud. In Plutarch's history of philosophy, Plato saved the Greek enlightenment from the attacks of the superstitious by a superior strategy.
In his Life of Solon, Plutarch turns at the very end to the tale of Atlantis from the Timaeus-Critias and states that Plato began the tale of Atlantis:
by laying out great porches, enclosures, and courtyards, such as no story, tale, or poesy had ever had before.(104)
Plato's poesy of Athens at war against Atlantis has a whole cosmology for its setting, a courtyard grander even than the courtyard for the story of Troy, because it had been made possible by two centuries of absolute novelty, Greek rational reflection on the nature of the cosmos and the human place within it. Plutarch goes on to say that:
Solon, after beginning his great work on the story or fable of the lost Atlantis, which, as he had heard from the learned men of Sais, particularly concerned the Athenians, abandoned it, not for lack of leisure, as Plato says, but rather because of his old age, fearing the magnitude of the task.(105)
Pleasantly pretending to correct Plato on a tale that he knows is wholly Plato's invention,(106) Plutarch grants Plato his fiction and acts as if it really were Solon's tale, an ancient tale that Plutarch somehow knows better than its inventor did. Thus Plutarch acknowledges the lawgiving aspirations of Solon's descendent--and rightly so, for Timaeus-Critias had shown Plato to be a worthy descendent of the wise Athenian lawgiver. While wisely attributing to the wisest of the ancestors the tale of Athenian glory he himself invents, Plato draws upon novelty, the resources of the Greek enlightenment, to introduce the cosmology within which a new Athenian glory can be achieved if led by statesmen of the fitting sort, statesmen that now include Plutarch.
In his final remark about Timaeus-Critias Plutarch says,
[Plato] was late in beginning [his work on the subject of the lost Atlantis], and ended his life before his work. Therefore, the greater our delight in what he did write the greater our distress in view of what he left undone. For as the Olympieion in the city of Athens, so the Atlanticus in the wisdom of Plato among many beautiful works is the only one to remain unfinished.(107)
This final point about Plato's Atlantis seems as correct as it is enlightening about the Timaeus-Critias. If Plutarch begins by suggesting that Plato, like Solon, was forced by death to leave the Critias unfinished, he quietly overrides this suggestion by the way he ends his reflection. The incompleteness of the Critias is explained by Plato's wisdom, not by Plato's mortality. Critias ends where Plato intended it to end: with all preparation made for Zeus's speech of judgment on the Atlantids, itends without that speech, it ends in silence on the cosmic judgment on the greatest human endeavors; but that cosmic silence is preceded by human speech which grounds the reasons for failure and success in nature and human nature.
(1) We therefore wish to caution the reader at the beginning: the argument of our paper is not based on an analysis of the cosmology which forms the bulk of the Timaeus. Instead, it concerns what could be considered preliminary matters--the setting and interlocutors--which in our view provide the essential perspective from which the cosmology of the Timaeus must be viewed. Our analysis remains outside Timaeus's speech on the cosmos, but by examining closely the conditions which brought it about we hope to be in a position to grasp its essential purpose.
(2) Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Critical Essays, Loeb Classical Library (1977), 25; Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers, Loeb Classical Library (1925), 3.37.
(3) Timaeus, Loeb Classical Library (1929), 20c, 26c.
(4) Republic, trans. A. Bloom (New York: Basic Books, 1968), 5.466e.
(5) Timaeus 19e.
(6) Timaeus 19c-d.
(7) Timaeus 19d-20c.
(8) Republic 5.469b-471c.
(9) Timaeus 20b-c.
(10) Beginning at least with Proclus (ca. 412-485 A.D.), some commentators have thought that Socrates' speech yesterday simply was the Republic. See Proclus, The Commentaries of Proclus on the Timaeus of Plato, in Five Books; Containing a Treasury of Pythagoric and Platonic Physiology, trans. T. Taylor (Kila, Mon.: Kessinger Publishing Co., 1993), 1:4-5; Alfred E. Taylor, Commentary on Plato's Timaeus (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), 13, 45; Plato, "The Republic," The Dialogues of Plato, trans. B. Jowett (New York: Random House, 1937), 1:591; Erwin Rohde, Psyche: The Cult of Souls and Belief in Immortality Among the Greeks, trans. W. B. Hills (London: Oxford University Press, 1925), 477-8; Seth Benardete, "On Plato's Timaeus and Timaeus's Science Fiction," Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy, vol. 2, no. 1 (1971): 21-63. This view has been opposed by Gilbert Ryle, Plato's Progress (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966), 230; Francis Cornford, Plato's Cosmology (London: Oxford University Press, 1937), 4-5; Paul Friedlander, Plato: The Dialogues, Second and Third Periods, trans. H. Meyerhoff (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), 357-9.
Plato states that Socrates narrated the Republic the day after the first occurrence of the festival of Bendis (Republic 1.327a, 354a). This festival took place on 19/20 Thargelion ("Scholia Vetera," Scholia Platonica, ed. W. C. Greene [Haverford, Penn.: American Philological Association], 187-8). The Timaeus-Critias occurs during a Panathenaia or on 28/29/30 of Hekatombaion (Timaeus 21a). This was two full months after the festival of Bendis. To suppose that Socrates' speech the day before the Timaeus simply was the Republic forces one to suppose either that Plato consciously misrepresented the festival in the Timaeus or that he mistook a day in late-May/early-June for a day in mid to late August. H. W. Parke, Festivals of the Athenians (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), 33-50.
(11) Timaeus 20d.
(12) Timaeus 25e, 26c-d.
(13) Timaeus 26e.
(14) Timaeus 20a. Cf. "Scholia Vetera," Scholia Platonica, 278.
(15) Hermann Diels and Walther Kranz, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 6th ed. (Berlin: G. B. Teubner, 1951), 1:345. Alfred E. Taylor, Plato: The Man and His Works, 6th ed. (New York: Meridian Books, 1963), 436 and 436 n. 1.
(16) Cicero, De Re Publica, Loeb Classical Library (1940), 33-4; De Finibis Bonorium, Loeb Classical Library (1930), 491.
(17) Regarding the historical data gathered here and elsewhere in this paper, it is important to remember that matters which are difficult to recover today were common knowledge or readily accessible to a fourth century audience schooled in the greatest events of their cities. On the other hand, the ancient commentators on Plato whose works have survived are for the most part centuries removed from Plato, and they are, with respect to some historical matters at least, in a position of greater ignorance than contemporary scholars who are the beneficiaries of more than a century of assiduous efforts to recover Greek antiquity.
(18) Thucydides, Loeb Classical Library (1988), 5.5.
(19) Athenians sent ships because they wished to test whether or not the affairs of Sicily could be brought under their control. Thucydides 3.86. See also Donald Kagan, The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1969), 155 n. 3; Henry D. Westlake, Essays on the Greek Historians and Greek History (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1969), 106-9.
(20) Thucydides 3.86, 103, 115; Diodorus of Sicily, The Library of History, Loeb Classical Library (1933), 12.53.1-2; Felix Jacoby, Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker, vol. 3B (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1954), no. 577, frag. 2; Arnold W. Gomme, A Historical Commentary on Thucydides: The Ten Years War (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), 2:389-90.
(21) Thucydides 5.5.
(22) Phaeax, the son of Erasistatus, was sent with two ambassadors to Sicily and Italy in the spring of 422; his object was to persuade as many as possible against Syracuse and to assist Leontini. Thucydides notes that Phaeax was successful with Locri (5.4-5) and that he returned to Athens "sometime later." It is conceivable that Timaeus himself was an ambassador who accompanied Phaeax on his return to Athens. Similar possible parallels exist between Plato and Thucydides regarding the visits to Athens with Hippias of Elis (Plato, Greater Hippias, Loeb Classical Library , 281a-b and Thucydides, 5.44) and Gorgias of Leontini (Plato, Gorgias, Loeb Classical Library , 447a-d and Thucydides, 3.86; see also: Diodorus, 12.53.1).
(23) Timaeus 21a; cf. Parmenides, Loeb Classical Library (1992), 127b. Proclus argues that the festival to which Plato alludes was a lesser Panathenaia (Commentaries of Proclus, 22), but his conclusion derives from the mistaken assumption that the Greater and Lesser Panathenaia occurred on separate dates; see Taylor, Commentary, 45.
(24) Johannes Kirchner, "Kritias," Realencyclopadie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, ed. A. Pauly, G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll, 5th ed. (Stuttgart: A. Druckenmuller, 1905), 1750-1; John Burnet, Early Greek Philosophy, 4th ed. (London: Oxford University Press, 1930), 203 n. 3.
(25) Timaeus 20e.
(26) Solon served as Archon Eponymus in 594. A person had to be at least thirty years of age to serve the city in this capacity. Since Solon and Peisistratus were considered of the same generation, his birth could not have been much earlier than 625. T.J. Cadoux, Journal of Hellenic Studies, 68 (1948), 93-4; Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, Loeb Classical Library (1992), 61-3; Charles Hignett, A History of the Athenian Constitution to the End of the Fifth Century B.C. (London: Oxford University Press, 1958), 316-21.
(27) John K. Davies, Athenian Propertied Families from 600 to 300 B.C. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972), 308.
(28) Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 3.1.
(29) There is evidence that a confusion existed in antiquity between two prominent Athenians named Kritias, a fact preserved by Philoponus in his commentary on Aristotle's de Anima. Philoponus attests to the existence of another prominent Kritias of Athens who has dropped out of our histories. This other Kritias is in all likelihood the Kritias of Timaeus-Critias. He could also be the son of Leaides, a candidate for ostracism during the 480's (Hesperia, suppl. 8 , 399 n. 12) and the Kritias in whom Anakreon the lyric poet was infatuated. For a full bibliography, see "Kritias," The Older Sophists, trans. D. N. Levin, ed. Rosamond Kent Sprague (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1990), 241-70.
(30) Timaeus 26b, see also 20a, 25e.
(31) There is an interesting and overlooked fact about Plato's manner of referring to Kritias that may also signify the existence of two prominent Kritiases: in every dialogue in which Kritias appears except Timaeus-Critias, Plato identifies Kritias as the "son of Callaeschrus." In the Timaeus-Critias, however, he is not so identified. He is named with no patronymic as if Plato is indicating a figure so prominent that he needs no further identification, so prominent in fact that when a different Kritias is referred to he needs further identification.
(32) Parke, Festivals of the Athenians, 88-92; S. D. Lambert, The Phratries of Attica (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993), 153-61.
(33) Timaeus 21c.
(34) Timaeus 21c-d.
(35) Republic 10.606e.
(36) Thucydides 7.70.2
(37) Herodotus, The Histories, trans. A. de Selincourt (New York: Viking Penguin, 1971), 9.108-110.
(38) Plutarch, "Life of Nicias," Parallel Lives, Loeb Classical Library (1914), 27.2.
(39) Thucydides 7.87; Plutarch, "Life of Nicias," 27.6; Diodorus, 13.19.4-5.
(40) Donald Kagan, The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981), 219.
(41) Thucydides 6.72.2.
(42) Leo Strauss, The City and Man (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1964), 167.
(43) Thucydides 4,58-64.
(44) Clifford Orwin, The Humanity of Thucydides (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 167.
(45) Thucydides 6.33-4.
(46) John S. Morrison and John F. Coates, The Athenian Trireme: The History and Reconstruction of an Ancient Greek Warship (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 100-2.
(47) Thucydides 6.72-3.
(48) Thucydides 6.75-80.
(49) Thucydides 6.33-4; Kenneth J. Dover, A Historical Commentary on Thucydides (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970), 4:299; Kagan, Peace of Nicias, 220.
(50) Thucydides 7.21.
(51) Thucydides 7.23.
(52) Thucydides 7.41.
(53) Timaeus 20b.
(54) Westlake, Essays on the Greek Historians, 174; Edward A. Freeman, A History of Sicily from the Earliest Times (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1893), 3:25.
(55) Timaeus 20c-d.
(56) Timaeus 27a.
(57) Critias 108b-c.
(58) Critias 107a-e.
(59) Republic 2.377c-383c.
(60) Critias 107d.
(61) Critias 108a-b.
(62) Ancient speculations on the identity of this fourth person have been preserved by Proclus: Theaetetus, Clitophon, or Plato himself had been suggested (Commentaries of Proclus, 16-17). Proclus adds that in his view such speculation is useless. It could be argued on behalf of Plato as the fourth that he was "sick" for the speeches of the Phaedo, and that it would have been fitting for Plato as a very young man to have heard the story of Athenian greatness from Kritias which Kritias himself had heard as a very young man from his and Plato's forebears. Decisively against this speculation, in our view, is the fact that Plato does not fit the prescribed character of Socrates' interlocutors on this occasion.
(63) Protagoras, Loeb Classical Library (1962), 309a-310a.
(64) Plato, Gorgias, Loeb Classical Library (1991), 481d.
(65) Plato, Apology, Loeb Classical Library (1990), 33a-d. Plato does not mention Alkibiades by name in this context. Xenophon, on the other hand, acknowledges that Athenian suspicion about Socrates' corruption of Alkibiades contributed to his guilty verdict (Memorabilia, Loeb Classical Library , 1.2.12-28, 39-47). Xenophon, however, does not present Socrates as the pursuer of Alkibiades.
(66) The dramatic date of the Protagoras, like the dramatic dates of the dialogues to be discussed shortly, is the subject of debate. Warrant for the dates given in this paper will be supplied in publications being prepared by one of the authors, Christopher Planeaux.
Regarding the Protagoras as the earliest Platonic dialogue in dramatic setting: an interesting interpretation of Aristotle's observations while a student at the Academy has been put forward. There were apparently two paintings in Plato's workroom. The first depicted a scene described in the Protagoras (335c), where Kallias stops Socrates from leaving the group--the very point at which Alkibiades rebukes Kallias for his ignorance of fair play. The other painting was a scene from the Phaedo, where Socrates is surrounded by his friends. If this is correct, Plato's workroom displayed images showing the beginning and end of Socrates' life as dramatized in the Platonic corpus. H. Jackson, "Aristotle's Lecture-Room and Classes," Journal of Philology 35 (1920), 191-200; M. Baltes, "Plato's School, The Academy," Hermathena 155 (1993), 7-8.
(67) Protagoras 309b.
(68) Pro tagoras 310b.
(69) Protagoras 336b-d.
(70) Protagoras 336e.
(71) Protagoras 336d.
(72) Plato, Alcibiades I, Loeb Classical Library (1964), 110b-c (hereafter "Alkibiades Major").
(73) See Patrick Coby, Socrates and the Sophistic Enlightenment: A Commentary on Plato's Protagoras (Lewisburg, Penn.: Bucknell University Press, 1987), 19, 24, 202-3 and n. 83.
(74) At the very opening of the dialogue Plato calls attention to Alkibiades's "growth of beard"--a significant event in the life of a young Athenian. During the Great Panathenaia there were a number of team contests in which three classes were recognized: boys, beardless youths, and men (Parke, Festivals of the Athenians, 36-7). It seems altogether fitting to connect Plato's phrase "growth of beard" with Alkibiades's first public display--no longer as a youth but as a "man." It is certainly a manly young Alkibiades who appears in the pan-Hellenic contest at Kallias's house in the center of the Protagoras.
(75) Plutarch, "Life of Alkibiades," Parallel Lives, Loeb Classical Library (1986), 4:2.
(76) Protagoras 338b-c.
(77) Protagoras 347a-b.
(78) Protagoras 348a-b.
(79) Protagoras 348c.
(80) Alkibiades Major 104c.
(81) Alkibiades Major 103a-b; 105e-106a.
(82) Alkibiades Major 124b.
(83) Plato, Alcibiades II, Loeb Classical Library (1964), 138b (hereafter "Alkibiades Minor").
(84) Alkibiades Minor 150c.
(85) Alkibiades Minor 140c.
(86) Alkibiades Minor 151a.
(87) Hignett, History of the Athenian Constitution, 224; Robert Garland, The Greek Way of Life from Conception to Old Age (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990), 280.
(88) Thucydides 6.15.
(89) David R. Sweet, "Introduction to the Greater Hippias," The Roots of Political Philosophy: Ten Forgotten Platonic Dialogues, ed. T. L. Pangle (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1987), 340.
(90) Plato, Lesser Hippias, Loeb Classical Library (1939), 370a.
(91) Thucydides 5.46.
(92) Martha C. Nussbaum, in the The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 168-9, puts forth an imaginative hypothesis about the situation behind Apollodorus's retelling of the speeches of the Symposium, arguing that the time is late 405-early 404 and that the focus of interest is Alkibiades. In our view, the focus is ultimately Socrates, both in Alkibiades' speech and in the view of the "men of action" who query Apollodorus. There are no definitive objections to dating the frame in 399 and powerful arguments in its favor.
(93) The exact date of Andokides' trial is a matter of some debate. Andokides attested that he had been in Athens for three years in "On the Mysteries," Minor Attic Orators, Loeb Classical Library (1982), 132. His return from exile was in 403 or shortly thereafter. See Donald MacDowell, Andokides: On the Mysteries (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 204. One speech from the prosecution has been preserved, Lysias 6 ("Against Andocides," Lysias, Loeb Classical Library (1988). There is a strong possibility that the author of this speech was Miletus--one of the principal accusers of Socrates. Thus, there would be direct links between the events Apollodorus recalls from 416, the reason for their recollection in 399, and, ultimately, Socrates' trial. J.L. Mart, "Andocides' Part in the Mysteries and Herme Affairs 415 B.C.," Classical Quarterly, n.s., 21 (1971), 334 n. 1; Henry Blumenthal, "Meletus the Accuser of Andocides and Meletus the Accuser of Socrates: One Man or Two?," Philologus 117 (1973), 169-78.
(94) Plato, Symposium, Loeb Classical Library (1925), 209d-210a.
(95) Symposium 219c-e.
(96) Symposium 216b.
(97) Xenophon, Memorabilia 1.2.24.
(98) Critias 108b.
(99) Laws, trans. T. L. Pangle (New York: Basic Books, 1979), 976d.
(100) Timaeus 40d-41a.
(101) Leo Strauss, The City and Man, 50-138. On Athenian imperialism of the Platonic variety, see Stanley Rosen, The Question of Being (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), chap. 4.
(102) Leo Strauss, Persecution and the Art of Writing (Glencoe, Ill.: The Free Press, 1952), 15-17.
(103) Plutarch, "Life of Nicias," Parallel Lives, Loeb Classical Library (1986), 23.3-4.
(104) Plutarch, "Life of Solon," Parallel Lives, Loeb Classical Library (1985), 32.
(105) Plutarch, "Life of Solon," 31.3.
(106) Plutarch, "Life of Solon," 26.1; see also Taylor, Commentary, 49-50 and n. 1: "We could not be told more plainly that the whole narrative of Solon's conversation with the priests and his intention of writing the poem about Atlantis are an invention of Plato's imagination."
(107) Plutarch, "Life of Solon," 33.1-2.
Correspondence to: Department of Philosophy (Lampert) or Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures (Planeaux), Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, 425 University Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46202.
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|Author:||LAMPERT, LAURENCE; PLANEAUX, CHRISTOPHER|
|Publication:||The Review of Metaphysics|
|Date:||Sep 1, 1998|
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