If several of the bold doctrinal initiatives from Plato’s subordinates there at the Academy during Olymp. 103-105 be taken together, we get clearer about the rebellious or insurrectionary-platonist attitude within the early Academy. This will have been too early to depend on the rebellious writing of a young Aristotle. More detail is naturally needed here, to bring together the concentration of these various overturnings and reversals. As can be expected in such times of insurrection, sub-schisms can be expected to take shape within the main branch of ‘insurrectionaries’.
In the late stages of the French Revolution, schismatic forces were at work at many levels: its Commune Insurrectionelle, is illustrative. Many Frenchmen, a profusion of various rival ‘distitutions’ at their various elbows, were divided over how to rule. [Plato’s invented word was ‘Stasiwteiai’, Στασιωτείαι ]. Early summer of the year 2017 a number of nations in western Europe are experiencing similar center-fleeing forces.
It will be one main aim here on this website to keep closer track of these internal battles — more detailed than is offered by the broad division Plato gives, between ‘Friends of Earth’ and ‘Friends of Forms’. It is a useful hint to have Plato say pointedly that certain Friends of Earth are in the habit of shunning open discussions altogether. The mosaic in Naples features stage-right, precisely such a discussion-averse specialist. Our aim will include investigating the legendary ‘silent Socrates’, reviewed in detail by Maximus of Tyre and other late Platonists. They tend to overlook the possibility of an insurrectionary Socrates. But our Venetus T gives an alternate name to the standard ‘Younger Socrates’, namely ‘Socrates Allos’ or ‘Socrates Alternate’. Within our evidences we can hope to locate patterns of insurrection and reaction. As far as practicable this website will treat as ‘inadmissible’ the evidence from the early Aristotle. Those controversies are mainly from a later time. Thus much of the Cherniss-Taran ‘amicus Plato, sed…‘ drama need not be replayed here.
Many of the best pointers toward this civil unrest — apart from those in Seventh Letter — come from the final few chapters of Republic Book IV, and (surprisingly, given its ‘early’ location in standard chronologies of Plato’s writing) from the Euthydemus. If the lightly veiled references to “disturbing and wandering” [ ταραχὴ καὶ πλανὴ ] can be responsibly traced to a single cluster of causes, we have major landmarks to guide us in doing some reconstruction of these troubled times in the early Academy.
In Euthydemus, and Alcibiades I we encounter a puzzling string of light irregularities surrounding the diphthontal spelling of the particle ‘dai’. Leonard Brandwood’s Word Index lists over 100 of this special locution, which Denniston had given special treatment. He had also remarked on its colloquial feature. Brandwood’s list occurs on his pair of pages xxvii – xxviii. There Brandwood lays the foundation for a more detailed study of these irregularities. Our ms. Venetus T presents a string of 6 specimens (in sequence) with an almost complete disagreement between T on the one hand and the consensus of manuscripts on the other.
Of great textual interest are the cases which appear late in Book II of Republic. This little series continues into Chapters 1 and 3 of Republic III. In several of these cases neither Brandwood nor Slings (his OCT edition) has noted their presence. Please do inspect closely Ephraim’s handwriting in Venetus T. It only heightens the significance of this peculiar variant that it is occasionally made part of a 3-particle phrase. This occurs at Rep 389 d7, in the final line before Ephraim’s hand ceases. In this example there is the strong reinforcement coming from the Paris ms. A. In A the line has the word corrected (its scribe seems to have predated Ephraim by just 50 years), The interest of this specimen is further heightened by its correction’s including an uncial “Iota”. Do please inspect this reinforcing handwriting, helpful in strengthening the significance of the ‘dai’ in T :
Regrettably these telling irregularities (made more significant in having two major mss. A and T agree, whilst also disagreeing with the bulk of our surviving evidence), have alas been dropped in all three of the good critical editions, Burnet’s, Shorey’s and Slings’s edition of Republic. Nor are there notes about these omissions. More detail here is available at
Further, it may be that this presumptuous ‘King’ Socrates pushed his personal self-assertion to the point where he is substituting himself for Plato, the underling inserting himself into the place of the Master, precisely in the pattern of the Bodleian Library’s medieval ms. In this iconic picture, we have a deeply insurrectionary overturning — a writing Socrates displacing a temporarily non-writing (and clearly perturbed) Plato. Another way of describing this gradually advancing habit of insubordination within the Academy near to Olympiad 106 are words like ‘insurrection’ or ‘insurgency’ or ‘epanastasis [ἐπαναστάσις] ‘ . Plato’s word appears near the end of Rep. IV ( early in Chapt. xviii). This specialist word is a great rarity at or near the Academy. But it reappears — significantly — in the standard biography of Aristotle, the Vita Marciana. An inflection of it is in the biography analysed by I. Duering: Aristotle Vita Marciana. In a locus (near #40) which exhibits irregularities significant for our interpretation of the early Academy. One little noticed locution in point: ‘for the sake of argument’ λόγου ἕνεκεν .
Here is a drawing from Matthew of Paris’s ‘Prognostica socratis basilei’, exhibiting an inverted order of the pair Plato, Socrates, makes a “Socrates” into the writer in Plato’s stead
Plato is likely to have been still at work writing or revising Republic in Olympiad 106 when he was also at work on Statesman and Laws. E.R. Dodds’s edition of Gorgias suggests that he was still revising that dialogue as late as 354 BC. Holger Thesleff arrives at a similar conclusion, but supports it more from the “onkos” style strikingly identifiable inside Republic V. If so, we would expect our texts of Republic to be subject to repercussions of this disturbance, h.e. this trepidation or wandering. We may gather some unusual phrasings from Books I, IV and VII of Republic and its discussions of ‘the true or Real Astronomer’ to give some of these hypotheses a particular footing in Plato’s texts. In Book VII: ὁ τῷ ὄντι ἀστρόνομος ] or ‘the Trueor Real Calculator of Book I: ὁ τῷ ὄντι λογίστης ]. Some puzzles about the cosmic layers within the De Generatione et Corruptione will be made less puzzling, on this hypothesis. This blood-and-bone man, — King Socrates as he did not shrink from calling himself — risked creating a fundamental per-disturbance inside that late-Plato period of the Earliest Academy. A significant linguistic signal from that same Olympiad: the ‘poorly attested’ specialist word diatarassw [ διαταράσσω ] of Laws 693 e, echoed in Plutarch, but very rarely found elsewhere. We will be pursuing more of this specialist language and its background in the usage of technical experts near Plato, Eudoxus and Philip of Opus. See below.