Euthydemus, Symposium and the ‘silenced’ Socrates

This page will set up a differentiation between a deeper and a shallower silence, pointed to by the paradoxical phrase ‘Socrates silent at his trial’.    The shallower silence is to be understood with help from the concept R.G. Bury brings to bear on the specialist language from  Athenian lawcourt jargon:    diadikasometha. . . dikastEi xrwmenoi twi Dionuswi [175e].   [Symp Chapt 3].      The Greek reads:  διαδικασόμεθα ἐγώ τε καὶ σὺ περὶ τῆς σοφίας, δικαστῇ χρώμενοι τῷ Διονύσῳ  [175e]  We might coin a word ‘per-judicial’ to allow a differentiation, this latter requiring no ‘apologia’.

In other words, plaintiffs and defendants are not ranged into opposition in this special method Athenians used to adjudicate or settle disputes.   Rather we have rival claimants appearing in parallel.   The idea is that co-ordinate suitors can have their respective claims sorted out and decided by a court.   Often it was a dispute over property.  No ‘apology of Younger Socrates’ is in order if this is the ‘perjudicial’ process being referred to.   No adversarial trial of our academic Socrates along these lines is recorded in antiquity.   On the other hand if  history has done here as it often does, i.e. conflate a story about one man (Socrates Elder) with a comparable story about a comparably named man (Socrates the Younger), we might easily and even rightly anticipate an additional ‘apologia’ — but from the wrong man.

The conflation does appear to have happened.    Not surprising, given the the homonymy of their names.   Younger Socrates is an ‘epanastatic’ [i.e. insurrectionist] member of the Academy and may well be the man under allusive reference in the opening words of Plato’s Lysis.    The  Anaphora of the opening words of Lysis, centers on the precise words :

 Ἐπορευόμην μὲν ἐξ Ἀκαδημίας … [203 a1]   “I found my way out of the Academy…”

The  word  Ἐπορευόμην carries a suggestion, by antithesis or opposition, of the Elder Socrates, the ‘epor-‘ here being a polar opposite to the ‘apor-‘  of the word commonly used to capture the quintessence of the elenctic Socrates, a form of the word word ‘aporia’.   His characteristic pattern of debate was the ‘aporetic’ the ‘no way out’ ending.   The meaning is polar opposite to that of the anaphoric Socrates at the opening of Lysis, being a characteristic ‘blocking from any way out, i.e. blocking from any exit’.  There are some associations worth particular attention here:  the place we have Socrates finding an exit from is ‘the Academy’.   Also suggestive is the place-name embedded in ‘dikastE xrwmenoi twj Dionuswi’ : δικαστῇ χρώμενοι τῷ Διονύσῳ.   Many associations are cross-linked here, one of which links to the name ‘Dionysodorus’, one main speaker in Euthydemus, like young Dionysius a kind of gift to the young Academy in the person directly descended from the Plato’s friends court in Syracuse , Doris and Dionysius.

Scholars have often wanted to put the date of composition of the three dialogues Symposium , Euthydemus and Lysis not far from one another, and not far from the enigmatic Epistle II [364 or 360, its reference to Olympics].   One or another edition of Plato’s (Young Socrates’s ?) writing of Lysis may well fall into this same period of Plato’s authorship.    It may be helpful here to recall the enigmatic ‘Socrates’ figure in the medieval drawing, depicting a disturbed Plato, looking over the shoulder of an author carrying the name ‘Socrates’ and busy at the Socrates figure’s writing desk.   Something of the history of the Academy near B.C. 364 may be under reference there, including its inverting of the relation between Plato and Socrates

It requires no stretching of Plato’s periods of authorship to have our elder and familiar ‘SophistEs’ being set here paradoxically equal to an Academy-exiting Socrates finding his way out of the Academy.   This may well be so, may well be, and I am here suggesting that it likely is so: an episode from the mature period of Younger Socrates.   This will have been a time anxious and distressing to Plato-the-author.    This agrees precisely with the pattern in our medieval diagram, the famous one depicting Socrates as writer, Plato looking over his shoulder as an editor does for his author.

My suggestion is to locate our Younger Socrates where he would be an ambitious young author ideally situated to stir an anxiety in the late Plato, by writing the substitute-Plato material which he is authoring in Plato’s name.   Consider:  at the time of the writing of Epistle II could anyone in or near the Academy author any portion of what now passes for Plato and not have it take on the author-name Plato ?  This would have composing difficult dramatic scenes such as those reminiscent of Elder Socrates, in Euthydemus would be among the writings of our ‘Plato’, as also Platonic Epistle II.   Anyone ambitious to write anything imitative of Plato will struggle to accomodate his ‘Socratic Dialectic’ to some one or another of the patterns, the elenctic Elder Socrates, or his the younger homonym exhibiting obstreperous and rebellious manners.

We may content ourselves here with following down the line of these suggestions, to assemble into a coherent picture a younger and handsomer namesake arrogating to himself the name ‘Socrates’, arrogantly claiming for himself the title ‘dialectician’ or ‘practitioner of the Platono-Socratic Later dialectic’.   Doing ‘dialectic’ of either a standard elenctic Socrates or some novel variation on it would put the writer into roughly the position of the  dialectic-of-Socrates anomalously placed later in his list than that of both Plato’s and even Aristotle’s dialectic.  Who does this special stretching of the Early Academy’s timescale?   Chrysippus, in his De Dialectica III.   Where else at the Academy might Chrysippus plausibly have drawn this misattributed work of ‘dialectic’ ?  The argumentation tinged with eristic contentiousness is a plausible source.

As  Athens ‘took to court’ the elder man, so Plato may have ‘taken to per-court’ the man with the confusing sameness of name.  Younger Socrates seems to be trying to replace Plato and at the same time to be turning the relation Socrates-Plato backwards, or inside out !   This is close to the suggestion which Epistle II  riddlingly suggests — that Socrates is the writer (a young and handsome Socrates, two striking points of contrast — so the writer suggests). This leaves us a wholly enigmatic Plato — the false claimant to be himself author of the entire Platonic corpus !

Thus we may have a plausible solution to several riddles at once, including the ridddle “Socrates silent at his trial”, and the “Socrates, true author of all of the writings we attribute to Plato,” and “Socrates, at or after the time of Aristotle’s Organon, homonymously called ‘Socrates’ by Chrysippus”.  We must have Plato  calling for adjudication, but his procedure is not judicial but ‘per-judicial’.    We readers can then find ourselves all of us members of the jury.   If I were to fancifully to deploy my vote and try to influence fellow-juror Holger Thesleff , I would vote ‘no’ to making Plato the impostor.   Likely we both would vote so.

I have had live-voice exchanges with Holger Thesleff about closely related topics in plato studies.   He expressed scepticism about a kind of inversion, one which puts nearly exclusive emphasis on Plato’s ‘agrapha dogmata’ which have been gleaned from our traditional stories.  The so-called ‘unwritten teachings’ pointed to by Phaedrus and Seventh Letter notably.    This would make our author Plato something of a poor replacement of the live-voice teacher.   A kind of impostor in other words.  But the two of us would ideally be in full agreement in helping  per-judicial process to a more traditional resolution .

Rather than make Socrates the claimant to have authored the Corpus Platonicum into the true author, we might think Philip of Opus, authoring Epistle II’s riddling claim ‘Socrates has written the entire corpus.’  Particularly so if Philip fancied himself a ‘younger and handsomer author’ Academic nickname ‘Younger Socrates’.

In October of 2014 I had arranged to meet with Holger Thesleff in Helsinki, to talk about Plato and the early Academy.    He was so kind as to offered to sign my copy of his first book,  “Farewell Windjammer“.   This is the English translation of his Swedish travel diary first published in 1951.   He was warmed to the idea of his writing an extra line above his signature , namely a line Plato repeately quoted from Homer:  “when two come together, one sees in advance…”.   He had no need to refresh his memory before writing the line down, since he had it in his memory:  σὺν τε δυ’ ἐρχομένω….  Thesleff then signed  added his signature, but used the form “the author”.

This discussion recalled to my mind the proverb cited in Republic ‘let brothers stand by one another”.    Thesleff had shown me a copy of the famous medieval sketch from the Matthew of Paris ms. entitled  “Prognostica socratis basilei”, and had joined in the general puzzlement over its having the name “Socrates” standing by the man at his writing desk.   Our ‘prognostica socratis basilei’ is meant to be a tract written by ‘Socrates the King’.    Here in the drawing we have the name ‘Socrates’ labelling the man stag-left, the one deploying instruments of writing, whilst the name “Plato” labels the man behind him, but gesturing as if to show his perturbed state of mind.   Here is a reproduction of that medieval sketch:

prognostica, Socrates Alternate as writer, Plato the talker

Alas, Holger was not able to make much sense of this, as applied to Philip’s or Socrates Alternate’s role at the Early Academy.    [Thesleff  seems not to have come upon the name ‘alternate’ as modifier of Socrates; conceivably he might find some of this present set of conjectures about ‘Socrates the King’ more persuasive ?]    In any case my 2014 effort at the time was  unsuccessful.   Thesleff  held firm to his published view, that the name ‘younger Socrates’ is a way the late Plato artfully contrived to refer to the true author of the Platonic corpus — that is, to Plato referring artfully — to himself.   I had to admit at the time that Thesleff’s hypothesis was an appealing one.     All the same, and if conditions were to permit, I would gladly speak again with him, and say more about the Younger Socrates question, presenting some of my evidence from the Venetus T.   This includes notably the word ALLOS, replacement for NEWTEROS.   May conditions one day permit.

Here I must remain content to present this perhaps plausible sequence of our traditions leaving us a several fewer confusions and reversals.   That young Philip should count himself ‘king’, this may remain a confusion or reversal.   Traditions do sometimes have a way of confounding persons, places and things.    Thus we can have arrived at the strongly paradoxical ‘Socrates Silent at his trial’.      This is the less philosophical of my two solutions,  depending as it does on a specialist point about judicial procedure in Athens at the time of the Early Academy.   If we now proceed to reason from Academic dialectic as found in the Euthydemus, we can get a deeper explanation, basing it on material near in time to — but predating — De Sophisticis Elenchis. 

Here  in Euthydemus, beneath the playful surface of the dramatic matching of youthful wits, we have ‘peirastic’ exercises that invite logical disasters.   Trials at logical contests, trials and errors.  The subject matter is contrived and academic: highly sophisticated puzzles such as: Is  Same always Same [as itself and Other is –or not? — Other [at least than Same].   But Same is not the same as just anything, for example Other.

The two boys sophistically entrap Socrates in their seemingly logical sequences.   They get Socrates to admit to having having ‘his’ gods, and admit also that these gods being animals, must then be thought ‘his animals’.   After all, being ‘ensouled’ will they not be correctly counted as ‘animals’ ?      Thus your god can even be ‘owned’ by you as an animal owner.   Similar logic can lead (or mislead) from an someone’s dog being ‘father’ and also ‘yours’ — to its being ‘your father’ !

In the particular argument about ‘your gods’, our young gymnasts of phrasing must overleap a key difference, the point — made in passing, but promptly forgotten in the playful banter —   This is the point that gods are rightly thought to be ‘our despots’ or ‘our lords’ .    With Socrates’s assistance and assent, the two of them draw the outrageous, a human sacrificing one of his ‘animals’.   A sacrificeable god, for example.     A dumbfounding conclusion.  Socrates appears trapped into assenting to.   Our Socrates stands before us, struck dumb.

The imagery is precisely a Socrates unconscious.   Unconscious or, as the text has it ‘speechless’.   Silenced, in other words.  (Maximus of Tyre writes of a Socrates with his tongue cut out.)   Our text is that of Chapter 28 of Euthydemus  and ends this way:.  This is how our seemingly voiceless Socrates formulates it:   Ἐγὼ μὲν οὖν, ὦ Κρίτων, ὥσπερ πληγεὶς ὑπὸ τοῦ λόγου, ἐκείμην ἄφωνος [303 a 4-5]  “I’m as if knocked on the head by the argument, thus struck dumb

These conclusions (Stallbaum belittles these with the diminutive conclusionicula.   I present this as the source of  the story of  the silenced (silencing) than a court rule.   This story, conflated with that which has Socrates in court, allows us our completed solution to the riddle.   The διαδικασόμεθα part has Socrates in court (one not requiring any ‘apologia’), but more generally we have a new view of Socrates as an adept at experimental ‘dialectic’.   The speaker ends by being publicly dumbfounded.   Thus the silenced Socrates.

On the point of theology, recall that Euthyphro had not been allowed to reach any real result, but had been stymied in a series of ‘aporiai’.     Here in Euthydemus  the tone is diametrically opposite.  A confidently asserted result that has an individual god on a par with a sacrificial animal !  In the present case the text even cites profit.   A profitably  owned god !

Imagine an arrogant mathematician or numerologist inside the Academy, hybristically vaunting over his ‘discoveries’ about Zeus’s celestial number (h.e. 12), or a polygon bearing the archaic-sounding name ‘duodecagon’ [Plato never writes this,  though Philolaus may have done so].    In Philip we may have had a man vaunting and presuming to dedicate an offering, a ‘Hermaia’ in the theurgic sense.

Do we not have a good comparison to a prayerful attitude in the writer of schol #61, to Bk I, Prop. 15 ?   Consider this text:

τοῦ θεοῦ δῶρα, καὶ οὐχ οἷα τὰ χαμερπῆ καὶ περὶ ἃ οἱ πολλοὶ ἐπτοήνται κέρδη, ὅθεν αὐτὰ καὶ τοῖς Ἑρμαίοις εἰκάσαμεν ” [Heiberg, vol. V, p. 144, Schol #61, to I, 15]


the TLG text reports this following, in its roman transliteration:


We have a further ‘archaising’ passage in the scholion to Euclid I, Def. 22.   It cites Philolaus, then slightly mis-cites Plato with its word ‘duwdekas’, never found in Plato.   Conceivably Proclus’s source has Plato and Philolaos both using the same archaic spelling (Heiberg, Vol V, p. 105):

Διὸς ἀρχὴν ἀνατείνεται· τὴν γὰρ τοῦ δωδεκαγώνου γωνίαν Διὸς εἶναί φησιν ὁ Φιλόλαος, ὡς κατὰ μίαν ἕνωσιν τοῦ Διὸς ὅλον συννέχοντος τὸν τῆς δυωδεκάδος ἁριθμόν· ἡγεῖται γὰρ παρὰ τῷ Πλάτωνι δυωδεκάδος ὁ Ζεὺς καὶ ἀπολύτως ἐπιτροεύει τὸ πᾶν.

the TLG text reports this following, in roman transliteration:


There may well be something here which stands as ancestor to later ‘Theurgy’.  Certainly the proud wording of scholion #61 (Heiberg V, p. 144-145) harks back to similar “heavenly” speculations.   That scholion (to Prop 15) repeats the Hermes-reminiscent term ‘Kerdos’, or ‘Profit’ as if wanted to invoke the authorities connected the priestcraft of Hermes.


It only reinforces the association that the writer indulges in a flurry of alliterative words.   Here is how it runs in the Greek, the initial Alpha’s

ἡ θεουργία… ποτυπουμέμη τῶν θεῶνγάλμασιν λλα λλοις …ἢ λλως πως πεικονιζόμενα   (these alpha-alliterative words all occur clustered in a stretch of only 3 lines !)

Saturnian priests indulged themselves in such hypertrophic alliteration, and so also Plato himself near end of Phaedo near Steph. 109.


(Heiberg Vol V, p. 92, end)

The archaic thinking stems from before Euclid, most likely.   It will be the source(s) behind the scholion applied to ‘SchEma’ and ‘Kuklos’  [Heiberg edition of the scholia, vol V, p. 92, end] —  in our best text of Euclid.   There is much allusion to higher and “more divine” ranges in this excursus scholion, graced as it also is both by a reference to Timaeus [p. 92]  and to “the pythagoreans” [Ibid., p. 93] .     The writer may possibly have been from a later era, but feeling the antiquarian’s urge to restore an earlier period.   More interesting if it were directly from an early source, such as Philip of Opus, a claimant to the role  ‘discoverer’ , and who wants to bring a Hermeia sacrifice ?    His book ‘kukliaka’ would have been an ideal place to write these things down.

Let us follow these same thoughts a few steps further.  We could think of some human offering up a ‘sacrificial animal’ named ‘Apollo’ or ‘Apollokrates’ — offering this animal in a sacrifice to Hermes ?     There is a certain ferocity of attack, on the Homeric gods, on the god Hermes in particular, in Plato’s sermonising of early in Book XII of Laws.    This ferocity might find its explanation here in one of the familiar intra-mural academic debates.    There is room to think Philip’s tract “p. Thewn” would contain some such pretentious and rhetorically overblown neo-Euthyphrontic theology.  A form of Hermes-worship.

The new enthusiast Euthyphro_the_Younger would “find a way” where Elder Socrates and old Euthyphro were repeatedly blocked, colliding with a no-way forward, an  “aporia”.    Recall the above ideas offered about the ‘anaphoric’ opening to the dialogue ‘Lysis‘.   We may well have before us in most of our modern critical editions, updated versions of various of Plato’s work  (updates by Plato’s own hand, as Diogenes of H. reports him to have done, not necessarily modified in the light of intramural debates within the Academy).   The hand of Philip of Opus may have been there only incidentally — as editor not as author, in the way his hand is in Epinomis and perhaps various places in LAWS.   [Recall the ‘anaphoric’ figure at the opening of Lysis, where the first words are ” Ἐπορευόμην μὲν ἐξ Ἀκαδημδείας εὐθὺ Λυκείου. . .[203 a1]” 

This opening is repeated nearly verbatim,  7 lines below in this same opening chapter of Lysis:    ᾿Εξ Ἀκαδημείας…πορεύομαι εὐθὺ Λυκείου…[ibid, b2]  Homer certainly meant to underscore the “mEnin” with which he opens the Iliad.   With equal certainty does the literary Plato underscore the ‘poreuein’  at the beginning of Lysis.    If we take Euthyphro as a measure, we can say Socrates causes ‘Mr. Right Mind’ [Peter Geach was fond of translating his name thus, a man whose fondness for names was manifest.  Otherwise why name our son ‘More Geach’?]  to be utterly blocked in trying to find his way through to the definition of Piety.

Now, as we come upon a younger and handsomer Socrates, “finding his way out of the Academy [and directly going to the Lyceum]” we have a full reversal.   Philip is credited with a treatise ‘peri Thewn’ (on the gods), in which he, like a Socrates reborn, must have dealt with the central concept Piety.    But we must have him discovering (thanks to the patron saint of all discoverere, Hermes) one or several ways to proceed (symbolically, ‘out of the Academy’ and ‘directly to the Lyceum’);  the time-scale is hospitable to a Philip’s composing his thoughts near to the Academy’s theology as he helped Plato write in in Books X, XII of LAWS.    It may not have been until some years later that Aristotle will write the theology of his final book of Nicomachean Ethics, or the theological passages in Met. Lambda and De Caelo.

A striking anacoluthon at Timaeus 28b can be paraphrased and only slightly enlarged with these words:  “we need not quarrel over someone’s hesitating to entitle his work ‘peri ouranou’ or ‘peri kosmou’ [or even ‘p. physews’ as Timaeus is sometimes titled!], we need only await courteously someone of our academic number here and now,  — h.e.  Athens in the 105th Olympiad — may opt to name it.   In any case the intended subject is the All, which is to say the entire ‘choir of heaven and furniture of earth'”.     See how well this paraphrase fits, especially if the author of ‘peri Thewn’ [=Philip, alias Socrates Alternate] be among this number.   It adds to the fitness that in the ‘p. kosmou’ there is a complaint about the scope of a ‘DeCaelo’, perhaps unduly friendly to the Heavens and only scantily attentive to ‘chthonic’ realities (unFriendly, therefore, to Earth).

It is a much disputed matter whether the ‘DeMundo‘ (p. kosmou) came from the Lyceum or from the ‘intramural’ writers, all close to Plato.   It boosts the probability that an academician like Philip, perhaps writing as ‘Friend of Earth’, that we encounter an allusive touch in the mood of a principal verb main verb in it.     Plato’s anacoluthon at Timaeus 28 contrives an Optativus Urbanitatis,   since seems to have Plato figuratively ‘finding his way ‘out of the Academy and directly into the Lyceum’.

Laws Book XII adds strength to these connections.  Let us recall that Philip is regularly thought nearly ‘author’ of some parts , especially the late parts, of LAWS.   One German scholar even did a book [Ivor Bruns by name] to identify which parts of LAWS were authored by Philip.            Think back to the bantering young sophists toying with the idea of ‘sacrificing one of the various ‘owned’ animals’   Not an ox as in the legend about Pythagoras, rather one of the lesser gods, say the Son of Zeus, Hermes.    Call the sacrificial beast Hermocrates (Plato’s sometime pupil Dionysius II — his grandfather,  namesake of the intended chief speaker of Plato’s “Philosopher”, and sacrifice him to Apollokrates (Dionysius II’s son, named with Plato in mind)

These various linkages have carried us uncomfortably far afield and into tenuous speculation.  Yet from Plutarch backwards, much of this conforms to Plutarch’s proverbial rule “take your beginning from The Hearth”, i.e. from the Early Academy, a source far better known to him than to ourselves.   These overly discursive excursions may need repeatedly to be flagged as deserving great caution.   All the same, overcaution is to be avoided, as W. Burkert has reminded us forcefully…

Many gods and much theogony of an obscure pythagorean variety is laid out, including notably at JLH’s p. 105.    Quasi-popular religious practices seem under reference, reminiscent of Pythagoras sacrificing an ox, or Philolaos contemplating the ‘duodecagram’ sacred to Zeus.     What of thinking of the ‘pempas kai hexas’ discoveries, the ‘reincarnation’ theme in the Heiberg collection of scholia (Euclid, Vol V) at p. 95 ?

Drawing on a few details of text-criticism, and what H. Thesleff has called “over-attentive reading”:  Does the reader have any plausible explanation of the outcropping of DUAL FORMS on pp. 182-183 of Heiberg’s Vol V? (scholia  to I, 32, the much-discussed ‘two right angles’ theorem in Elements), or of the deviation into the Attic spelling ‘elatton’ in that same scholion ?  [=#112]    This is a dual echoed in a ms. of Proclus’s (Friedlein) commentary to Euclid I, its Friedlein p. 381, line 8 .   Perhaps we have echoes from a time and place where we have a living Plato:  The Early Academy.

Of all paradoxes coming down to us from Platonic or pre-Platonic pythagoreans, one is identified as ‘most’ paradoxical.   This is from a scholion to our best ms. of Euclid, and it draws on lines in a plane which fail to make contact ever, despite their doing a kind of mutual inclining, this inclining being just as ‘ever’ in its continuation.   The scholiast writes of the ostensible ‘Sunneusis of the un-Sunneusable’ pair of lines:  this counts for him as geometry’s ‘most paradoxical’ statement [JLH #1, his Euclid V, p. 108].    Yet we can find in Euthydemus Chapt. 28 exemplifications of truly mind-numbing paradoxes, perhaps deeper in their incomprehensibility.


The bone-&-blood man Philip was well acquainted with mathematics, was personally known to the elderly Plato and to the juvenile Aristotle.  Aristotle may well have been a student of “Socrates Alternate”, rendering the traditional report “Aristotle studied under Socrates” nothing at all paradoxical, but mere matter of fact This is strongly suggested by Aristotle’s giving a sharply worded criticism of the “parable about the animals” which he attributes to a man he calls “Socrates Newteros” or “Socrates Junior”.

It was a parable or comparison which this man “repeatedly put forward”.  Aristotle’s pointed remark is that Socrates’s parable misleads.  It illustrates an apagwgE away from (not toward) truth.    Very regularly the arguments which Aristotle attributed to the Elder Socrates are “epagwgai” or “leadings-toward” in Aristotle’s sense “inductions”, as this is commonly translated into our language.   This means of course leading toward (not away from!) truth.     We are safe to presume that the man under reference put one in mind of the Elder Socrates.   Thus a revival, renewal,  a re-enactment of sorts, of the venerable sage, the man we may call Socrates Simpliciter (not ‘aliter’).    In other words, the standard Socrates.

This ‘newer’ or  ‘alternate’ figure will have been present inside the Early Academy when Aristotle was young, and ripe for teaching by some variety of that venerable teacher, Elder Socrates.   But Aristotle’s one direct reference to this man causes a jolt.  He attributes to him the repeating of a ‘parable’ that Aristotle judges to be misleading.    The comparison (parabolE) which Younger Socrates used repeatedly is mis-leading (i.e. away from truth).   This is quite the opposite of the famous Socratic/Platonic ‘inductions’ leading in the positive direction — towards truth.

It will be worthwhile to pause and reflect a moment on a technical meaning of the word  ApagogE  [  ἀπαγωγὴ  ].    Its technical meaning it quite different from ‘leading away [from truth].  The meaning of this term of art has only a limited analysis in LSJ and the recently published Montanaro lexicon from Genoa.   Scholia to Euclid were edited by Heiberg, and were later entered into the TLG collection, as “Scholia in Euclidem” or TLG5022.   A good Euclid ms. in Vienna preserves a list, Scholion #21 to Book I of technical terms in geometrical treatises.  This particular list includes ἀπαγωγὴ, in the sense of ‘reduction’ of one set problem to another (presumably more easily solved).

So this kind of ap-agOgE is not at all mis-leading, but rather leads toward truth, even if in a roundabout way — via our solving another problem.   A famous example, already famous by the time of Plato, Archytas and Dicaearchus, was from geometry.   It was the problem of doubling the cube, ‘solved’ by Hippocrates of Chios via his his ‘reduction’ [ἀπαγωγὴ] of cube-doubling to inserting a pair of means between 1 and 2.   Heath and others have clarified this early Academic work in detail.   Most of this specialist language is to be found everywhere in the later mathematicians, Archimedes and Apollonius, and good discussions were soon to be worked out (likely at the Academy still) by young Aristotle, in his Posterior Analytics.   

[Plato’s very allusive, oblique and even playful reference to cube-‘reduction’ of cube-doubling (and the resulting pair of  irrational ‘middles’ of a stereometric type) has gone largely unnoticed in the literature.   This despite some detailed work on Politicus 266AB.   In any case advanced research is alluded to in Republic VII, Scholion #1 to Euclid’s first stereometric book (his Book XI) reports this as a matter of fact.   The scholion needs close attention, given its ‘early Attic’ mannerism of using the dual number.   It will be argued here that the source of this report is probably not later than Eudemus of Rhodes, thus still in the 4th Cent. B.C.    Given a lemma or two of no very great difficulty, we may even say this activity in stereometric science dates to near the 103d Olympiad, when Euthydemus and Politicus will have been written rather recently, or will have been in mid-course of their composition. ]



Consider the question put to Socrates, whether

(1) ‘tauton is [identical to] tauton’.   and

(2) ‘heteron is [identical to] ‘heteron’.  [301b8]

The Greek is straightforward, and runs this way:

   Οὐκοῦν καὶ

   [1] τὸ ταὐτὸν ταὐτὸν καὶ

   [2] τὸ ἕτερον ἕτερον ; [301 b7-8]

We may re-formulate this line’s pair of questions, and borrow a notation from Ephraim’s 10th Century hand;  Ephraim is copying a closely parallel work, Parmenides.    That is to say, both close parallel in subjectmatter and time of Plato’s original composition.   This specialist notation of Ephraim’s (it can be named either underbar or hyph-hen mark) is one very like the one which Ephraim shares with the 9th Century hand copying Plato’s ‘Paris A’ ms.   The added phrase, in which the spelling of ‘tauto’ is articulated into what may have been an Early Academy jargon, harks back to spellings where ‘tauto’ was not yet in its elided form, but rather still ‘to_auto ‘    This is a specialist refinement of the type recently analysed by D. Wiggins and Jonathan Barnes.   [specimens of this underbar or ‘hyph-hen’ mark to be exhibited below]:

  Οὐκοῦν καὶ [1] τὸ ταὐτὸν [το_αὖτον τῷ] ταὐτὸν καὶ

  [2] τὸ ἕτερον [το_αὖτον τῷ] ἕτερον ;   [301 b7-8]

[11.v.17   discussion of ‘deep experimentation’ within peirastic logic — seeing what happens if one entertains, or tries to entertain, a state of mind we may call ‘cancelling Non-Contradiction’.   A radical experiment, though I once heard Harry  Frankfort in a lecture try to conceive of a ‘voluntarist’ Divine Being in Descartes — who could experimentally think clearly a logical contradiction.   Can we conceive of a single Socrates BOTH silent at his trial and talkative at his trial ?     Suppose we begin from an ambiguous definition (say of ‘diplasion’, as later to turn up in Euclid V, Def. 10, which can mean either ‘the double multiple’ or  ‘the second power’).   We can then (as the scholion there explains) be forced to the logically awkward result of “the same number being both odd and even”.   Is there an ‘experimental’ position thinkable, in which we do not need to exclude this possibility ? Our rules for discussion may tolerate what the specialists call “hypexairesis” or “removal” of all differentiators, pending a full exploration of consequences.   The so-called horn-form angle, indiscernably distinct from a Zero, may call on us to counter Zeno of Elea by a relaxing of non-contradiction.   Perhaps ‘tauton’ is in some non-standard sense ‘inappreciably distinct’ from ‘tauton’ itself, yet in actual reality distinct.   We need only contemplate the ‘sunneusis’ and ‘paregklisis’ puzzles, derived from concepts found in Euclid’s scholia (some of them seem to me to trace as far back as Archytas or Philolaus, in which case both Elder and Junior Socrates can have puzzled over them, Younger Socrates in a newer edition of ‘elenctic’ or ‘dialectic’.   It would have been such a new dialectic that Brunschvig found Chrysippus referring back to.   Further, it may be under an intra-academy title like the one found in   in the Vatican’s Palatinus #173.   This ms. lists works of Plato, and includes both ‘epi turannou’ and ‘epi dialectikEs’. .  [More work is needed here.      The Polonsky Founcation’s project intends to scan in medieval mss. held at the Vatican’s apostolic library.   When it accomplishes this for Palatinus #173, it will be a major improvement of access for us Plato researchers.]


16 December 2017


On any point related to this site, you may be interested to communicate your thoughts .   Please do feel free to post your blog entry here.   Or, you may want to email me at:

There have been a number of recent visits to the page “Euthydemus, Symposium…and Silenced Socrates”.    If you have ideas, why not use the present ‘blog’ to relay them to a wider public ?   Yes, I mean you.   You may (interestingly) be from Australia.  Just as interestingly, from Brazil.   You may care to note your country of origin in a blog post.    Some of the speculations  now have a more conjectural set of ideas embedded.  It is no longer as it was as of May 2018.   Are you quite sure you have no reactions that you want to post here ? [10July18 ]

 Some visitors have come  from Australia, including in 2018.   You may be from Brazil (visitors logged in 2016, 2017, 2018).  I have recently updated that page. 

22 December 2017

This site was first published in 2016.  During that year there were 86 views — a strong majority being visitors from the USA.  In 2017 there are larger numbers and there was also a wider range of countries.   As counted by total views, the volume of traffic in 2017 was 157.     By country of  origin, fewer than half the visitors in year-2017 have been from USA — only 31.    Brazil by itself had 23 views.    From the total 157 views,  a large number,  63,  were from Canada.   A likely explanation for this would be the ongoing manuscript studies supporting the new Oxford Classical Text of Plato, of which only Volume I has so far appeared (1995).  This new edition’s editorial board is now more broadly international, and includes an editor from Canada.

In any case this site will  give wider and better access to the San Marco ms. named T.     The site imposes no restrictions on visitors.    In past years and decades Plato’s manuscript scholars have been allowed rather limited access to the actual manuscript of T, curated as it is at the San Marco Library in Venice.  This present electronic access has been consulted by a substantial number of visitors, from a variety of countries.    Germany, Brazil, Spain, Malta, Greece, Japan, Australia, Canada and (notably) Italy are among their countries of origin.

The images here will serve to open up new access for editors of critical editions of Plato.  Each folium’s image is stored in  *.pdf format.   This makes it easy to enlarge and to show to others.   With a little extra effort, a scholar can create his or her own copy of a given crucial passage (even several such copies), and is free to write glosses directly onto this reproduced image.  The resulting ‘figures’ can be easily relayed to fellow scholars elsewhere on the worldwide web.     This gives promise of provoking others to write such marginal comments.   So to speak, to compare notes.

This site’s new electronic images also include the standard Stephanus page and column numbers.   These Stephanus references are entered in red ink at top and bottom of each of Ephraim’s ms. columns.    This lightens the burden of anyone’s managing to pinpoint a particular word or phrase in the entire manusript.   The source edition (10th century) and its small number of archival electronic copies is naturally innocent of any such Stephanus markers, which only arrived several centuries later than Ephraim.  In the ms. itself only the folio number is recorded, one number on each ‘recto’.

Where the good critical edition of Stallbaum has taken pains to insert Chapter numbers within a dialogue — or within a book division (as in LAWS and REPUBLIC) — these chapter numbers are kept, so far as my available time has to date permitted my inserting these.   Where they are kept, however, these finer subdivisions are deliberately not inserted atop the image, which is to say atop Ephraim’s 10th century handwriting, but rather are kept only as  prefixes to that folium’s  description in the dialogue’s webpage.  This means specifically that each recto (or verso) where I have so far completed this work recites and reproduces the opening words (in Greek) of each Stallbaum “chapter”.

To be sure, there is a current of standard scholarly scepticism, fashionable these days, but in my judgment overcautious, about Plato’s having paid any attention to such divisions within his own works.   I will be giving some reasons now and again in my discussions, reasons for overturning this scepticism.   Thus my policy of retaining  as many as practicable of the ‘chapter’ headings.

Consider the case of James Adam’s erudite comment on Chapt VII of Republic Book I:  “the seventh chapter is a good example of Plato’s extreme care in composition. . .two illustrations followed by an application.  This occurs seven times before the conclusion of the argument…”

Now Campbell marks as the first words of his Chapter VII    Ἠινίξατο ἆρα …    But Stallbaum had had his  “cap. VII” marker precisely the same place.   Further, these same two editors also place their “Cap. VIII” markers some 60 lines later, making that next chapter begin with precisely the same words of Plato’s,   Οὐκ ἂν οὖν, ὦ φίλε…   Not surprisingly, Shorey in his Loeb edition puts these same two chapter markers in precisely the same two places.

Wholesale scepticism here would have it that these headings reflect only the arbitrary choices of these editors, from Germany, England or the United States.   Slings of Holland in his 2003 edition takes the safe course, by following the Oxford pattern, thus omitting Chapter markers altogether.  If one’s editing surrendered so completely to the skeptical view as to agree with the new Loeb’s (21st century) edition of Republic,  Adam’s count “seven times” is accordingly undercut, made wholy arbitrary.    This recent set of Loeb editors (those of the new Republic in the Loeb series has pressed the skepticism viewpoint yet one step further.   They claim that even divisions into “books” unlikely to be authorial in Plato’s master work, Republic .    They leave us with only editorial preferences, then.    But the Stallbaum-Campbell-Shorey traditions seem both more true to Plato’s text and better.   These preserve both book divisions and chapter divisions.

Do please have a look here at my figure taken from the very end of Rep. Bk 7, which I submit in support of the counter-skeptical position here.    Do have a direct look at how our 10th century monk Ephraim has Socrates (or Plato) bring Book 7 to its end.  Its so-called “telos”.     Would you choose to join our skeptics by tracing the pointedness of this textual word “telos” back only as far as Ephraim ?  Or perhaps a little further, as far as Plato’s spokesman Socrates ?   Perhaps the truth remains with us, the least skeptical of all the positions outlined here.    My view, at least, is that we have Plato himself ending Book 7 with his own book-ender word “telos”.   That is, the Book is meant to end precisely with the phrases including his own pointed word Plato’s word  τέλος “telos”.    Slings in any case joins with the previously cited 3 editors in locating the end-point very near these very words.  Is there any edition of this work of Plato’s, any edition which locates the “end” of its Republic Book 7 more than a few words distant from this word “telos” ?   Please let me know if you find such an edition.

final words of Rep 7, per Ephraim, Plato’s own ending of this book


Here is information on the scholarly visitors to date:


detail of stats for 2017


Evidences of Civil Unrest at the Early Academy 3

This following will give a fuller picture of the diphthongal variant in the phrase TI DAI (cf. TI DE), both in the Paris A ms. and in the part of Rep III just where Ephraim’s hand leaves off (f. 212v). Brandwood omitted the TI DAI.  He does not report the diphthongal variant reading at 389d7 in Venetus T.  This omission is not surprising, given the limited scholarly access allowed to the original codex in recent decades.    This omission was not corrected by Slings, who had only slightly better access to T than Robin or Nicoll or Brandwood had.

Slings also omitted any report of the Paris A readings below reported from Books II and III, both of which Books include the diphthongal variant.   Slings had better access to the Paris ms.   Via its first hand correction, it tends to confirm the rightness of Ephraim’s firm and uncorrected hand to 389d7.   

Even if this phrasing (and other diphthongal variants, of which Robin had reported scores of examples) does not convince other scholars — as it does in fact convince me —  convincing in pointing to the hand of Younger Socrates, nonetheless it gives an indication of what today’s ms. research can and should be based upon.    As electronic access improves (the indefatigable Roger Pearse has noted often, and celebrated it), this broader access ought to improve the quality of our critical texts.   Witness Robin’s prepared magisterial texts of Symp. and Phdr. nearly a century ago.  He did not omit these scores of T’s diphthongal variant readings.   Recent reprintings of Robin’s apparatus’s, however, have dropped out just about all of Robin’s carefully collected readings of this variant diphthong.

Do open a few of these manuscript images, and you will see some of these points illustrated.  Most are directly from 10th Century monk Ephraim:

TI DAI at Rep III, 389 e12 in Paris A

particle phrase TI DAI in both Venice and Paris

(bis 9.95) TI DAI in ms T, Rep 389d7, Slings edn silent

(bis 9.95) 387 c3 – 8d1 – 389 d7, Sling’s silence on the 2 TI DAI’s 389d, e

scholion to Tim 42b1, O Supremely Wise Plato (259r), rev3

This medieval sketch can have Plato cautioning his scribe, Socraters Alternate

The picture of the humanised Demiurge speaking to the lesser gods in Tim 41c is of great interest in that it captures an extremely early stage of Plato’s ‘creation’ story.    In some ways this earliness puts us in mind of God’s initial enlivening of Adam in Michelangelo’s painting.  In both cases the mythopoiesis depicts some witnesses.    God is accompanied in Plato’s mythos alongside a number of lesser divine beings, just recently generated by himself.  Tim 41c5 is quoting the words from God’s mouth (or perhaps only paraphrasing?  has a lightly altered form:  please see T‘s version of Tim. 41c5).   The  Venetus T ms. has the words put a slight accent upon the “mine” of “my power to generate you”, thus diminishing the stress upon “you” and your generation, i.e. that of the gods he has just created.   Do you see a significance in this shift — if indeed you even see a shift ?    Have a look:

(bis9.9) Tim 41c5, modifier word(s) of THN…GENESIN. UMWN EMHN

Malcolm Brown

2 April 2018