Tag Archives: Hesiod

On Plato’s Republic, 3

Index to this series

We are reading now Book II of the Republic.

Dog with copy of Alain Badiou, Plato’s Republic:
A Dialogue in Sixteen Chapters, with a Prologue and an Epilogue, 2012
Profesörler Sitesi, Altınova, Balıkesir, Turkey, September 2, 2021

Our reading is Stephanus pages 357–83, covering

  • the conventional arguments in favor of injustice and justice, reviewed by Plato’s brothers Glaucon and Adeimantus respectively;
  • the beginning of the construction of the city in speech, wherein the advent of justice is to be discerned; the guardians of the city are to be like dogs and to be given a traditional education, although with none of the traditional stories, since they talk about things like parricide and bad luck.

I am exercised by how Adeimantus in the first part, and Socrates in the second, criticize certain teachings in the Iliad, without considering how those teachings are given by one character to another, in contexts that we ought to use in judging them.

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Piety

The post below is a way to record a passage in the Euthyphro where Socrates say something true and important about mathematics. The passage is on a list of Platonic passages that I recently found, having written it in a notebook on May 23, 2018. The other passages are in the Republic; Continue reading

On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book III

Index | Text

The Iliad is about the feud between Achilles and Agamemnon, a feud that occurs during the Trojan War. Book III of the Iliad has nothing to do with Achilles, a little to do with Agamemnon, and everything to do with why the whole war is happening at all.

Photo of the tower of books used for this article

Book III has led me to a number of physical books that are in my possession, here in Istanbul, and that I am somehow delighted to be able to make use of. Some of the books, I brought from the US; others, I bought here.

Thus this post is not a continuous narrative of the story of Book III, but I make a number of digressions. I have gone back to analyze the post into sections as follows (I added this index on December 16, 2018, and edited the whole post on December 6, 2020).

  1. A duel could end the war, but does not.

  2. Paris must lack shame, to be such a devotee of Aphrodite—who is called Cyprides because of her origins (as I shall happen to recall in “Antitheses”).

  3. The book opens with two similes.

    1. The Trojans are like cranes, bringing death to Pygmy men. It is not clear whether a later legend of battle between cranes and African Pygmies derives from Homer’s simile; if it does, it could be a misinterpretation, as snake-handling is probably a misinterpretation of the Gospel. Note added April 11, 2019: Thoreau refers to the legend in Walden,Where I Lived, and What I Lived For,” just before “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!”

      Still we live meanly, like ants; though the fable tells us that we were long ago changed into men; like pygmies we fight with cranes; it is error upon error, and clout upon clout, and our best virtue has for its occasion a superfluous and evitable wretchedness. Our life is frittered away by detail.

    2. The Greeks raise a cloud of dust, such as would be grateful to thieves seeking concealment.

  4. Holding up a lance is a sign of wanting to treat; sacrificing lambs is then a sign of good faith.

  5. Chapman elaborates on the virtue of Helen. He uses “offense,” apparently in the sense of a moral stumbling-block; but the passage is obscure.

  6. The old men whom Helen joins on the ramparts are like cicadas with lily-like voice; this leads me to references in the Theogony of Hesiod, the Phaedrus of Plato, and the Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius. In this context, Hesiod refers to “an oak or a rock,” as Socrates does too in chastising Phaedrus.

  7. Homer digresses by allowing Helen and Priam to tell some of the backstory.

  8. The rite of pouring out wine as a symbol of blood predates Christianity.

  9. Homer takes us between war and peace, the battlefield and the bedroom.

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