The Lost Plato Volume 1: Plato's Struggle With Socrates
Chapter 2: A critical review of doctrinal arguments for and against the late dating of the Phaedrus As we saw in the previous chapter, on Aristotle’s testimony Plato conceived of the Forms at the point of his philosophic encounter with Socrates, that is some ten years prior to Socrates' death. If we realize this fact, nothing stands in the way of taking seriously the ancient tradition according to which Plato's first dialogue was the Phaedrus and that it was written during Socrates' lifetime. One would expect that attempts to view Plato's work on this basis would be part of the mainstream of scholarly endeavours at understanding Plato. Instead, the academic enterprise of interpreting Plato has enclosed itself within an impenetrable wall of rejection. Let me name just a few voices from the rejectionist chorus. Natorp says that an early dating of the Phaedrus is a ‘sheer impossibility’,(1) Pohlenz declares that it cannot even be discussed,(2) von Arnim proclaims the early dating a ‘monstrosity’,(3) Hackforth brands it as ‘absurd’,(4) Guthrie echoes this verdict,(5) Martha Nussbaum considers the early dating to be just ‘silly’(6), and an anonymously quoted Oxford philosopher rounds off the consensus for laymen: ‘from the point of view of style, content and everything else, it’s clearly a late dialogue, and that’s all there is to it’(7). The arguments on the basis of which the ancient tradition has been rejected can be divided into doctrinal and stylometric arguments. I shall begin by examining the doctrinal arguments, for they came first and proved to be decisive in determining the way in which the stylometric research was conducted and in which way its results have been interpreted. A historical survey of the arguments against the ancient dating of the dialogue will disclose the shaky foundations on which modern Platonic scholarship has been based. Modern Platonic studies began with the rejection of the ancient tradition on the dating of the Phaedrus in Tennemann’s System der Platonischen Philosophie, published in 1792, which was inspired by Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Kant believed that he had discovered the truth and that the only thing that remained for professional philosophers to do was to discover and to write down the history of pure reason, that is the history of thought that led to his great discovery; he ends the Critique with a short outline of this project.(8) His follower Tennemann enthusiastically undertook this task, which he began to fulfil with a work on Plato. With the theory of Forms in the Phaedrus Plato comes the nearest to Kant’s theory of a priori knowledge of concepts, where Socrates says that only those souls can become human beings that beheld the truth, that is the Forms, for men must understand what is said in generic terms (kat' eidos), bringing a plurality of perceptions into a unity by reasoning (ek pollôn ion aisthêseôn eis hen logismôi sunairoumenon, 249b7-c1). In Tennemann’s eyes, Plato in his development as a philosopher must have progressed towards the theory of Forms in the Phaedrus through a chain of dialogues, just as the whole subsequent development of philosophy progressed through a chain of works of philosophers towards Kant’s discovery of a priori concepts of pure reason. Consequently, the Phaedrus had to be a late dialogue.(9) Tennemann’s late dating of the Phaedrus goes hand in hand with his depreciatory view of Socrates: ‘Socrates limited philosophy one-sidedly to practical issues and contributed nothing to its scientific cultivation.’(Tennemann, p. 204) The fact that Socrates did not write any philosophic works was for Tennemann a sure indication that Socrates never rose to philosophy as science, that he did not deduce moral concepts from principles, that he remained on the level of individual convictions of individual people which he elicited from their individual consciousnesses. (Tennemann, pp. 203-204) In line with his dismissal of Socrates Tennemann then interpreted the Phaedran criticism of the written word as a pointer towards Plato’s esoteric doctrines, which had to be teased out of Plato’s written works with the help of Kant’s critical philosophic works. In Tennemann’s view Plato in the Phaedrus puts forward reasons why a thinker ‘would not entrust his thinking freely to paper’, which brings the dialogue into the vicinity of the Seventh Letter, which Plato wrote when he was already old and looking back upon his own life-work. (Tennemann, pp. 117-119) Nowadays Tennemann may have been forgotten, but until the present day scholars have held views similar to his on the alleged affinity between Plato’s views about the written word in the Phaedrus and in the Seventh Letter from which a late dating of the Phaedrus is inferred, failing to notice that there is a profound difference between the Phaedrus and the Seventh Letter concerning this matter. The Phaedrus contains sharp criticism of the written word in contrast to the spoken word; the written word is here viewed by Socrates as a mere shadow of the spoken word, which is the true vehicle of philosophy, lives in the soul and transmits truth from soul to soul (275c-278b), but in the Seventh Letter Plato discards the Phaedran opposition between the spoken and the written word; he now considers the word as such, irrespective of whether it is spoken or written (graphenta ê lechthenta, 341d2-3), as incapable of mediating fundamental philosophic truth (rêton gar oudamôs estin hôs alla mathêmata, 341c5-6). In the light of the ancient tradition on the dating of the Phaedrus, the Phaedran dismissal of the written word and the contrasting elevation of the spoken word is clearly Socratic; Plato in his later works, especially in the Laws, did his best to restore the dignity of the written word. The Seventh Letter is a special case; here Plato is afraid that Dionysius, the former tyrant of Syracuse, would divulge in writing the very foundations of philosophy that Plato had intimated to him in a private conversation (340b-341b); anxious to prevent this from happening, Plato insists that any such attempt would be doomed to failure for the word as such is incapable of communicating the truth about being. In other words, whatever Dionysius may divulge, it will not represent Plato’s fundamental philosophic insights. At the beginning of the nineteenth century Schleiermacher dismissed Tennemann’s dating of the Phaedrus, arguing that the dialogue was Plato’s first. He denied that he accepted the ancient tradition on the dating of the dialogue as a basis for his doing so. He said that Diogenes and Olympiodorus in whose Lives of Plato it is found refer it to no competent testimony and that therefore the ancient tradition could have no place in dealing with a subject of such importance as the chronology of Plato’s dialogues. And although Schleiermacher adduced Plato’s ‘mentioning of Polemarchus as alive’ in the dialogue as a confirmation of his own dating of the Phaedrus as Plato’s first dialogue,(10) he claimed to have deduced this dating from Plato’s philosophy viewed as a system: ‘Surely everybody who understands the matter and who has the corresponding personal experience will agree that true philosophy does not start with separate special points but with an anticipation at least of the whole ... The beginnings of almost all his philosophy are undeniably to be found in the Phaedrus, but its undeveloped state can be seen there as well.’(Schleiermacher, pp. 75-76) This insight on its own is valuable; the problem lies in Schleiermacher’s development of Plato’s philosophic system out of it. He divided Plato’s work into three periods. The first period contained the Phaedrus, Protagoras, and Parmenides which in Schleiermacher's view laid down the first principles of Plato's philosophy and constituted the elementary part of his system. In the second period come dialogues in which these principles were applied to special subjects of ethics and physics; here belonged the Theaetetus, Sophist, Politicus, Phaedo, and Philebus. The last, so-called constructive period was dominated by the Republic, Timaeus, and Critias. The idea that the Sophist, Politicus or Philebus, which Schleiermacher classed as preparatory to the constructive works, could have been written after the Republic was for him inconceivable: ‘The necessity of giving last place to the constructive dialogues is so great from all points of view that if dependable historical testimonies were found which would prove that the Republic was written earlier than any of the preparatory works, we would stand in the most vexing conflict with our judgment about Plato and we would be thrown into the greatest perplexity of how to make such a want of reason compatible with his great intellect.’ (Schleiermacher, p. 48) Modern stylometric studies have produced overwhelming evidence that the Sophist, Politicus, and Philebus belong to the group of the late six dialogues that were written after the Republic, and it is on that account that Schleiermacher’s theoretical construction of Plato’s dialogues as a system must be rejected. But historically, Schleiermacher’s theory was rejected on different grounds; it was his dating of the Phaedrus as Plato’s first dialogue written during Socrates’ lifetime that was turned into an anathema by Platonic scholars. In 1839 Hermann wrote the Geschichte und System der Platonischen Philosophie, in which, like Tennemann before him, he placed the Phaedrus among Plato’s later dialogues. But now it was Hegel, not Kant who dominated the thinking of Platonic scholars. Hermann claimed to have discovered a natural law of Plato’s development: Plato began with simple dialogues in which he reproduced Socrates’ thinking within its narrow limits of practical wisdom. After the death of Socrates Plato undertook extensive travels abroad in the course of which he becameacquainted with all that was important in the science and philosophy of his time; after he returned to Athens he devoted his energies to the elaboration of his philosophic system. The Phaedrus contains almost everything that Hermann considered to be the results of Plato’s development: ‘the doctrine of the pre-existence of souls and their periodic journey, the doctrine of the relation between earthly beauty and heavenly Truth, the doctrine of divine enthusiasm in contrast to human prudence, which Plato nowhere else expressed so strongly, and let us take on top of that the unmistakable traces of pythagorean influence.’(11) The last point was for Hermann’s dating of the Phaedrus of decisive importance, for he believed that Plato wrote it after his return from his first journey to Italy and Sicily during which he had become involved with the Pythagoreans. Hermann claims that the ‘divine enthusiasm in contrast to human prudence’ that dominates the Phaedrus is a result of Plato’s development after the death of Socrates. He suffers from similar prejudices concerning Socrates as does Tennemann, for otherwise he would have seen that there is a profound harmony between the philosophic enthusiasm expressed by Socrates in the Phaedrus and between Socrates’ behaviour face to face with the prospect of death as Plato presents him in the Apology and in the Crito; the Phaedrus helps us to understand why Socrates was ready to die rather than give up philosophy (Ap. 29c-d). And as to ‘the unmistakable traces of pythagorean influence’, Hermann overlooked the fact that that which can be ascribed to the Pythagorean influence in the Phaedrus - the transmigration of souls and their incarnations in the bodies of different animals in cycles of three thousand years (249a-b) - can already be found in Herodotus, who ascribes the theory to the Egyptians: ‘The Egyptians were the first to pronounce the doctrine according to which the soul is immortal (hôs anthrôpou psychê athanatos esti); each time the body dies, the soul enters into a different animal (tou sômatos de kataphthinontos es allo zôion aei gignomenon esduetai). And after the soul thus goes through all the animals on earth, in the sea and in the air, it reenters a human body (autis es anthrôpou sôma ginomenon esduein); the period within which the soul accomplishes this periodic journey takes three thousand years (tên periêlusin de autêi gignesthai en trischilioisi etesi).’ (ii. 123. 2) Herodotus notes that ‘some Greeks took recourse to this doctrine (toutôi tôi logôi eisi hoi Hellênôn echrêsanto ), some earlier some later, adopting it as their own’ (ii. 123, 3). Plato in the Phaedrus modified this doctrine. According to him, the soul’s first incarnation happens when the soul loses its wings that had enabled it to rise periodically to the beatific sight of the Forms. The soul that in its previous periodic journey to the sight of the Forms saw the most of them enters a child who becomes a philosopher, but the souls that had seen less of the Forms while they still had their wings enter less elevated positions in life. If they do wrong in their life on earth, they are brought to judgement and punished in places of chastisement beneath the earth, while others are borne aloft by Justice to a certain place in the heavens where they live a life merited by their previous life on earth.And after a thousand years each comes to the allotment and choice of its second life: ‘then may the soul of a man enter into the life of an animal, and that which was once a man may come back into a man’ (entha kai eis thêriou bion anthrôpinê psuchê aphikneitai, kai ek thêriou hos pote anthrôpos ên palin eis anthrôpon, 249b3-5). Such souls regain their wings after ten thousand years, that is after ten such incarnations. But the soul of a philosopher, if he lives his life on earth in search of wisdom without guile or deceit, and if after the time spent in heaven the soul again and again chooses the life of a philosopher, it regains its wings after only three incarnations, that is in three thousand years (trischiliostôi etei, 249a4). Herodotus has nothing to say about the Pythagorean theory of number, and so, although this theory is central to Pythagoreanism, Plato’s view of number in the Phaedrus is as yet untouched by it. For in the Phaedrus he speaks of number as an invention, in line with writing, the sciences, draughts and dice (274c-d). In doing so, he conforms to the popular view of the day, expressed for example in Aeschylus’ Prometheus (466-470) and in Gorgias’ Apology of Palamedes (B, 11a, 30). Contrast this with the Republic, which he certainly wrote after his journey to Italy and Sicily during which he initiated a lifelong friendship with the Pythagorean Archytas of Tarentum; here his views on number are radically different, for in it he ridicules the tragedies in which Palamedes is presented as an inventor of number (522d), contending that numbers are entities that by their very nature stand outside any process of generation (522d-525b).(12) From Hermann onwards, the idea of the Phaedrus as Plato’s first dialogue was generally accepted as unthinkable. What preoccupied Platonic scholars from then on was the dating of the Phaedrus in relation to the Republic and to the late dialogues such as the Sophist, Politicus, and Philebus. The solution to this problem was sought in stylometric investigations that claimed to be free from any doctrinal bias, which seemed to have stood in the way of any meaningful consensus among Platonic scholars concerning the sequence of Plato’s dialogues. At the beginning of the twentieth century the most extensive stylometric investigations were conducted by von Arnim, who on their basis claimed to have obtained results of such clarity and infallibility that no ground remained for doubting the post-Republic dating of the Phaedrus.(13) Yet when Pohlenz reviewed von Arnim’s results, he found them faulty. Using von Arnim’s stylometric criteria, he found that the Phaedrus was nearest to the Lysis; he therefore placed both prior to the Republic.(14) Von Arnim responded to Pohlenz’s criticism with a book entitled Platos Jugenddialoge und die Entstehungszeit des Phaidros,(15) in which he claimed to have proved irrefutably that the Phaedrus was written after the Republic. Pohlenz backed down. He chose his review of Wilamowitz’ book on Plato as the most opportune occasion for his recantation: ‘The individual arguments, which are held to be decisive for the late provenance of the Phaedrus, would not appear to me to be of binding force even today ... I gratefully recognize that it was again Wilamowitz who showed me the right way ... Wilamowitz too placed the dialogue differently at different times. When still young he perceived in the Phaedrus the exultations of Plato’s youthful heart singing in full tones. Slowly he transferred the dialogue to Plato’s later days as he himself progressed in age.’ Does Pohlenz unwittingly betray one of the reasons for the consensus concerning the late dating of the dialogue? The consensus was dictated by elderly Professors, who loved to think that just as the heart of the old Plato could warm up by virtue of contemplating Eros, so could their own hearts. Pohlenz continues: ‘A happy summer day is the title of the chapter devoted to the dialogue. Wilamowitz now depicts the mood which overwhelmed Plato after he had finished his main work, the Republic, and more or less accomplished his other literary plans. Wilamowitz lets us feel how Plato, who as a teacher learnt to appreciate the spoken word, again and again felt in himself the impulse that drove him to writing, how that man on a quiet day on his paternal country estate began to listen to the song of the Muses and did not withstand the temptation to follow his poetic inspiration.’(16) Hackforth in the ‘Introduction’ to his Cambridge edition of the Phaedrus (1952) accepts von Arnim’s dating of the dialogue, and says: ‘The post-Republic position is accepted - largely, I think, as the result of von Arnim’s investigations, by Taylor (with a certain measure of doubt), Frutiger, Stenzel, Wilamowitz and Jaeger.... M. Robin, though without reference to von Arnim by name, seems to accept his general conclusions.’(Hackforth, p. 5) Von Arnim’s arguments therefore deserve to be examined in detail. Von Arnim states the methodological principles with which he credits Plato, and on the basis of which he arrived at his dating of the Phaedrus, as follows: ‘Plato knows what he said about the same subject in his earlier work and is careful not to obscure what was made already clear nor to make shallow what was investigated in depth. He will be careful not to bore the reader with repetitions of investigations which were made earlier and were brought to a satisfactory conclusion. Where he will continue on the basis of earlier results he will either only briefly recapitulate their substance or he will pass over them without mentioning. The consequence will be either that the presentation of a later work will be difficult to understand by anybody who does not know earlier dialogues or that it will appear to him - in view of interceding thoughts - lacking in soundness.’(Arnim, Pl. Jugd. p. vii) How could Plato have had these principles in mind when he wrote the Phaedrus, when in this dialogue he says that ‘only an exceedingly simple-minded person could believe that he could leave or receive in writing (en grammasi) a scientific discipline (technên) on the supposition that the written word would be clear (saphes) or certain (bebaion)’ (275c5-7), and in which he attributes any truly beneficial and long lasting influence on human souls solely to the spoken word of a philosopher (276a-278b)? But since Plato does in his later years ascribe to the written word a great power to influence the souls of the readers, notably in the Republic (425b and 498d), the Timaeus (22b-23c) and the Laws (809a-b, 811c-e, 823a, 858d, 891a, 922a, 957c-e), he may have developed principles along the lines indicated by von Arnim, and so it may be of interest to see how von Arnim in his dating of the Phaedrus applied the methodological principles attributed by him to Plato. Hackforth says that in his view von Arnim shows ‘convincingly that there are a number of passages, particularly in Socrates’ second speech in the Phaedrus, which would be unintelligible or barely intelligible to readers unacquainted with the Republic.’(Hackforth, loc. cit.) Foremost in Hackforth’s mind is the passage in which Socrates likens the soul ‘to the union of powers in a team of winged steeds and their winged charioteer’ (246a6-7): ‘In the beginning of our story we divided each soul into three parts, two being like steeds and the third like a charioteer. Well and good. Now of the steeds, so we declare, one is good and the other is not (253c7-d2)... Now when the driver beholds the person of the beloved, and causes a sensation of warmth to suffuse the whole soul, he begins to experience a tickling or prickling of desire; and the obedient steed, constrained now as always by modesty, refrains from leaping upon the beloved; but his fellow, heeding no more the driver’s goad or whip, leaps and dashes on, sorely troubling his companion and his driver, and forcing them to approach the loved one and remind him of the delights of love’s commerce. For a while they struggle, indignant that he should force them to a monstrous and forbidden act; but at last, finding no end to their evil plight, they yield and agree to do his bidding. And so he draws them on, and now they are quite close and behold the spectacle of the beloved flashing upon them. At that sight the driver’s memory goes back to that form of Beauty, and he sees her once again enthroned by the side of Temperance upon their holy seat; then in awe and reverence he falls upon his back, and therewith is compelled to pull the reins so violently that he brings down both steeds on their haunches, the good one willing and unresistant, but the wanton sore against his will...’ (253e5-254c3, tr. Hackforth). Any young person who reads this passage feels that Plato here describes something akin to one’s own experience when first in love. But according to von Arnim readers can understand this passage only when they draw parallels between: 1. the charioteer in the Phaedrus and the philosopher ruler in the Republic; 2. the good horse in the Phaedrus and the guardians (who in the Republic exercise the dual role of police and military); 3. the bad horse in the Phaedrus and the class of farmers in the Republic (whose function is to feed the whole city)(Arnim, Pl. Jugd. pp. 156-161). Hackforth does allow ‘that the comparison of the soul to a charioteer with two winged horses might be understood without a knowledge of Rep. iv’, but he says that ‘we must nevertheless, in my opinion, agree with von Arnim that it is unlikely that Plato would have put the tripartition doctrine before the public for the first time in this symbolic form’ ( Hackforth, p.4). This argument, which Hackforth views as one of von Arnim’s strongest, has the required force only if Plato’s tripartite vision of the soul in the Phaedrus corresponded in principle to the tripartite division of the soul in the Republic, but this is not the case, for in the Phaedrus all three parts are immortal, whereas the tripartition of the soul towards the end of the Republic is viewed as inconsistent with the immortality of the soul (611a-b). Following Socrates’ discourse on the soul in the Phaedo, Plato in Republic x ascribes immortality only to the intellectual part of the soul (611e-612a); the Timaeus, in the wake of the Republic,expressly pronounces the two lower parts of the soul to be mortal (41c-d, 69c-70a, 90a-d). Hackforth finds the following argument particularly appealing: ‘One of von Arnim’s points of detail concerns the [Phaedran] passage (249b) in which the words aphiknoumenoi epi klêrôsin te kai hairesin tou deuterou biou [concerning the souls that ‘come to the allotment and choice of their second life’] seem to allude to the curious mixture of determination by lot and choice with which souls are confronted in the myth of Er (Rep. x, 617d ff.). I find his argument on this irresistible, and regard it as one of the strongest evidences of the priority of the Republic.’ In the accompanying note Hackforth quotesthe concluding words of von Arnim: ‘Es ist also zu schliessen, dass Platon [in the Phaedrus] die klhêrôsis nur deshalb erwaehnte, weil er eben rekapitulierte und den Leser an seine eigene Darstellung des Gegenstandes in Rep. x erinnern wollte’. [‘We therefore must conclude that Plato in the Phaedrus mentioned the determination by lot only because he was recapitulating and wanted to remind the reader of his own presentation of this subject in Republic x.’]. (Hackforth, p.4) What von Arnim and Hackforth appear to have overlooked is that ‘the curious mixture of determination by lot and choice’ was central to political life in Athens, and every contemporary reader would have understood it as such. Moreover, in the Phaedrus this ‘mixture of determination by lot and choice’ comes into play only at the point of reincarnation, while the first incarnation is strictly determined by how much Truth, that is how much of the Forms, of true Being, the soul was capable of seeing prior to its first incarnation (248d); the souls of philosophers, as long as they choose a philosopher’s life, are exempt from any determination of their fate by lot (249a1-5). The contemporary reader would perceive in the Phaedran limitation of this ‘mixture of determination by lot and choice’ to the souls that are further removed than those of philosophers from their original uncorrupted state as a sure sign of Plato’s contempt for the role that the choice by lot played in Athenian politics. In the Seventh Letter Plato says that in his early days he felt contempt for Athenian democratic politics and speaks of his admiration for aristocracy (324c); in a true aristocracy there was no place for choice by lot that in a democracy determined the role citizens played in political life. The Republic paints a very different picture; the best Plato can now offer a man who on his arrival in this world dedicated himself to sound philosophy (hugiôs philosophoi, 619d8-e1) is a happy life here on earth (619e3), if the number of his lot did not fall among those who were the last to choose (kai ho klêros autôi tês haireseôs mê en teleutaiois piptoi, 619e1-2). When Plato wrote the Phaedrus he was full of hope and did not think of the adversities to which even a philosopher could be exposed in this life here on earth; when he wrote the Republic he knew better. A further sign that Plato wrote the Phaedrus in entirely different circumstances than the Republic is the following: in the former the souls that choose the life of a philosopher three times in a row regain their wings and are freed from the chain of incarnations (249a1-5), but in the latter the souls of philosophers are offered no such prospect; after Plato conceived of the ideal state in the Republic, he could not have the souls of philosophers escaping from these earthly toils if there was to be any hope of bringing the ideal state into reality. Another example of Hackforth’s and von Arnim’s viewing the Phaedrus through the prism of the Republic is provided by the passage in which Socrates in the Phaedrus speaks of the primary incarnation of the souls. The souls that have lost their wings enter different lives according to their previous participation in truth: 1. the soul that has seen the most of Being enters the life of a lover of wisdom or beauty, a follower of the Muses and a lover (eis gonên andros genêsomenou philosophou ê philokalou ê mousikou tinos kai erôtikou, 248d2-4); 2. the soul that has seen less shall dwell in a law-abiding king, or a warrior and ruler (tên de deuteran eis basileôs ennomou ê polemikou kai archikou, 248d4-5); 3. the soul that has seen even less shall dwell in a statesman, a man of business or a trader (tritên eis politikou ê tinos oikonomikou ê chrêmatistikou, 248d5-6); 4. then an athlete or physician; 5. a prophet or a mystery-priest; 6. a poet or other imitative artist; 7. an artisan or a farmer; 8. a sophist or a demagogue; 9. finally, the soul that has seen even less than all the above shall dwell in a tyrant (248d2-e3). Von Arnim insists that this gradation of lives in the Phaedrus can be properly understood only after the reader has become acquainted with the deteriorated governments discussed in Republic viii. and ix. Then the reader will be ‘at the first stage reminded of the philosophical statesman of the ideal state, by the words polemikou kai archikou we will think of the warlike nobleman who functions in the ideal state as epikouros and who himself governs in timokratia that develops from the ideal state, at the third stage on account of the words oikonomikou ê chrêmatistikou we will think of a businessman of the oligarchy ...’ (Arnim, Pl. Jugd., p. 167) But pace von Arnim, what is remarkable about the gradation of lives in the Phaedrus is the profound difference it exhibits when compared to the main principle of Plato’s political philosophy in the Republic. In the Republic Plato postulates unity between philosophy and political power: ‘Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils - no, nor the human race, as I believe - and then only will this our State have a possibility of life and behold the light of day.’(473c11-e2, tr. B. Jowett) But in the given passage in the Phaedrus we can see a clear divide between a philosopher and a statesman, for the first-grade life is that of a philosopher, that is ‘of a lover of wisdom or beauty, a follower of the Muses and a lover’ who is not endowed with any political role or power, and only the second and third grade life is allotted to men engaged in politics, a king and a politician respectively. In the Phaedrus even the ‘politician’ (politikos) of the third-grade life, ranked on the same level as ‘a man of business or trader,’ has genuine political ambitions; that this is so becomes clear if we compare the ‘statesman’ of the third grade with the ‘demagogue’ (dêmokopikos) of the eighth grade, whose political aspirations are presumably spurious, as are those of the tyrant of the ninth grade. In the ideal state in the Republic nobody but a philosopher is allowed to be engaged in politics (495d-496a) and philosophers are obliged to become politicians (520a). In Hackforth’s view a convincing proof for the post-Republic dating of the Phaedrus can be derived by virtue of comparing the proofs of the immortality of soul in these two dialogues. He points out that the immortality proof in Republic x is of a quite different nature to the Phaedran proof, and asks why an unsatisfactory proof in the Republic should be preferred to that in the Phaedrus if the Phaedrus had already been written. He says that the Phaedran proof ‘rests on a conception of the soul’s nature, as that which moves itself, which is preserved in Plato’s latest work (Laws x), but is apparently unknown to the Phaedo and the Republic.’ He adds that ‘this point too is dealt with by von Arnim thoroughly and convincingly’. (Hackforth, pp. 4-5) This argument deserves to be looked at in more detail. Von Arnim says: ‘One of the most important passages for the dating of the Phaedrus is undoubtedly the proof of the immortality of soul 245c-e, which precedes the myth of the heavenly journey of the souls. If we compare this proof with the proofs given in the Phaedo and in the Republic for the same doctrine, we will find that it has no connection with them at all, but is based on a completely new view of the concept (Begriff) and of the being (Wesen) of the soul, which cannot be found in the two named writings whereas we find it again in the tenth book of the Laws and in the Timaeus. I mean the conception of the soul as the principle of movement, i.e. as Being that moves itself by itself and from which all movement in the material world is initiated. I believe that from this point as well it can be proved that the Phaedrus belongs to the last period of Plato’s writings.’ (Arnim, Pl. Jugd., p. 176) Plato’s proof of the immortality of soul in Republic x is as follows. Plato argues that only those things can be destroyed in which there is inherent an evil that causes their destruction. Thus ophthalmia destroys the eyes as the evil inherent in the eyes, disease destroys the whole body as the evil inherent in it, just as mildew destroys corn, rot timber, or as rust destroys copper and iron. The evil inherent in the soul is unrighteousness, intemperance, cowardice, and ignorance, but this evil does not destroy the soul. The soul is therefore indestructible and this is why it is immortal (608c9-611a2). This proof is unsatisfactory, but in asking the question ‘why the very unsatisfactory proof of immortality in Rep. x should have been preferred to that of the Phaedrus if the Phaedrus had already been written’ Hackforth fails to take into account Plato’s own view on this matter. For Plato does not bring in his proof of the immortality of soul in Republic x because he found his previous proofs unsatisfactory. He expressly corroborates the previous proofs to which he adds the new one: ‘That the soul is immortal is demonstrated by the argument just given and by the other proofs’ (hoti men toinun athanaton psuchê, kai ho arti logos kai hoi alloi anankaseian an, 611b9-10). Plato in the Republic does not specify what ‘other proofs’ he is thus endorsing, but the definite article with which he qualifies the expression ‘the other proofs’ indicates that he expects the reader to know what proofs he is referring to. The very fact that Plato speaks of the proofs in plural points to the Phaedo, in which there are several proofs of the immortality of soul, and the question is whether the Phaedran proof is included, as Stallbaum contended (18), not included, for not yet conceived of by Plato, as Arnim, Hackforth, and others would have it, or excluded as unsatisfactory, as I shall argue. As will be seen, the only dialogue to which Plato in the given context in Republic x specifically directs the eye of the reader is the Phaedo, and the proofs to which Plato thus specifically points will help us to find the answer concerning the Phaedran proof. A few lines before endorsing ‘the other proofs’ Plato says that the total number of the souls is always the same ‘for if none be destroyed they will not diminish in number. Neither will they increase, for the increase of the immortal natures must come from something mortal, and all things would thus end in immortality.’ (611a5-8, tr. Jowett) These words recall the first, the so called cyclical argument of the immortality of soul in the Phaedo: ‘If there were not perpetual reciprocity in coming to be, between one set of things and another, revolving in a circle, as it were – if, instead, coming-to-be were a linear process from one thing to its opposite only, without any bending back in the other direction or reversal, do you realize that all things would ultimately have the same form: the same fate would overtake them, and they would cease from coming to be? ... if all things that partake in life were to die, but when they’d died, the dead remained in that form, and didn’t come back to life, wouldn’t it be quite inevitable that everything would ultimately be dead, and nothing would live? Because if the living things came to be from the other things, but the living things were to die, what could possibly prevent everything from being completely spent in being dead?.’ (72a2-d3, tr. Gallop) As can be seen, in Republic x Plato adds the half of the cyclical argument which is not expressly specified in the Phaedo. For in the Phaedo, after formulating the cyclical argument as such, he argued that all things would end up dead, if the living things were to die without reciprocally coming to life. Reciprocally, in Republic x he argues that all things would end in immortality if the immortal natures were to come to being from something mortal. This reference to the cyclical argument in Republic x is followed by Plato’s raising the question of the uniformity and incompositeness of the soul viewed in its true nature, in its engagement in philosophy (611b1-612a6). It is within the framework of this discussion that ‘the other proofs’ of immortality are endorsed in Republic x (611b9-10); the uniformity and incompositeness of the soul as the ground for the soul’s immortality is discussed extensively in the Phaedo (78c1-83e3). Hackforth is wrong when he says that the Phaedran proof ‘is apparently unknown to the Phaedo and the Republic’ (p.4), for the cyclical argument in the Phaedo brings into play the point that is central in the proof of the immortality of soul in the Phaedrus: ‘and it is as impossible that it [the soul] should be destroyed as that it should come into being: were it otherwise, the whole universe, the whole of that which comes to be, would collapse into immobility, and never find another source of motion to bring it back into being’ (Phaedrus 245d7-e2). In the Phaedo as in the Phaedrus the thought that the soul must persist in its being or else everything would come to a standstill and nothing would live is presented as an argument for the immortality of the soul. The ancient tradition according to which the Phaedrus was Plato's first dialogue enables us to see the Phaedo as an important stage on the way from Plato's initial conception of the soul to his mature view. The main point in the Phaedran proof is the thought that since the soul does not come into being, it must be imperishable (245d3-4). In the Phaedo Socrates’ interlocutor Cebes points out that the pre-existence of the soul can be proved from the theory of Recollection often put forward by Socrates (72e3-73a2). At this stage of the argument, the existence of the soul prior to its birth, that is prior to its incarnation, is viewed as a guarantee of its existence after death, that is after its separation from the body, and Socrates attempts to strengthen this thought by postulating an essential similarity between the soul and the true being it contemplates. 1. Such concepts as the ‘equal’, the ‘beautiful itself’, the ‘good itself’, and the like cannot be derived from sensory perception; since we have these concepts, our souls must have had them prior to their incarnation (74e-76c). 2. If this being, that is the ‘beautiful itself’, the ‘good itself’, and the like exists, and if we refer all the things from our sense-perception to it, thus finding again what was formerly ours, then as surely as this true being exists, so also our souls exist now and existed before we were born (76d7-e6). 3. Being, which dialectic defines as such (hê ousia hês logon didomen tou einai kai erôtôntes kai apokrinomenoi, 78d1-2), is unvarying and constant and never admits of any alteration in any way or respect whatsoever (78d6-7). In virtue of its kinship with being the soul enters into company with being whenever it has come to be alone by itself, that is entirely liberated from body; having thus ceased from its wandering, it is focused on being and remains constant and unvarying (79d2-6); it is immortal just as the Being to which it is similar is immortal, unchanging, indestructible, and eternal (79d1-81a9, 84a-b). Simmias and Cebes, Socrates’ interlocutors, accept Socrates’ arguments as valid in so far as they guarantee the pre-existence of the soul, that is its uninterrupted existence in the past, but they maintain that the pre-existence of soul is no guarantee of its immortality (76e8-77c5), if one is unable to show that the soul does not labour hard in its many births and does not end by perishing completely in one of its deaths as a consequence of all this exertion (87a-88b). Simmias bases his lack of confidence in Socrates’ arguments upon the view that the soul is nothing but a harmonious composition of the bodily parts (85e-86d), which Socrates easily refutes by reminding him that he had accepted as valid the arguments concerning the pre-existence of souls, which is inconsistent with viewing the soul as harmony (91e5-92e3). But Cebes’ argument compels Socrates to fundamentally rethink and transcend the philosophic position that he has held until then (95e7 ff.). Socrates recapitulates Cebes’ argument as follows: ‘As for showing that the soul is something strong and god-like, and existed even before we were born as men, nothing prevents all that, you say, from indicating not immortality, but only that soul is long-lived and existed somewhere for an immense length of time in the past, and knew and did all kinds of things; even so, it was none the more immortal for all that, but its very entry into a human body was the beginning of its perishing, like an illness: it lives this life in distress, and finally perishes in what is called death. And, you say, it makes no difference, so far as our individual fears are concerned, whether it enters a body once or many times.’ (95c4-d6). The attempts to prove the immortality of soul in the Phaedo on the basis of its pre-existence are better protected against the argument of Cebes than the Phaedran argument, for the soul in the Phaedrus is always moving not only itself, but brings about all bodily movement whatsoever upon the earth and in the heaven (245c9, d8-e1), whereas in the Phaedo the soul is not encumbered with any such task. In the Phaedo it is subjected to the exertions of motion only when it loses its intimate contact with the true Being. And yet Socrates in the Phaedo admits the validity of Cebes’ objections and in his final proof he brings in an argument that is independent from the arguments concerning the soul’s pre-existence: he argues that the soul by its very essence always participates in the Form of Life, and that’s why it is immortal and indestructible, just as the Form of Life itself is (105d-106c). Arnim and Hackforth are wrong when they say that the Phaedran proof ‘rests on a conception of the soul’s nature, as that which moves itself, which is preserved in Plato’s latest work (Laws x)’ (Hackforth, p.4), for there is a profound difference between the concept of the soul in the Phaedrus on the one hand and its concept in the Timaeus and in the Laws on the other. The soul in the Phaedrus is ungenerated, uncreated, and it is on this basis that the proof of its immortality is constructed, whereas the soul in the Timaeus (34b-35a) and the Laws is a created entity, and consequently, in Laws x the proof is concerned only with the prior creation of the soul to that of the body, not with the immortality of the soul (892a-c; 895b; 896a-c; 904a). This ‘difficulty’ has been explained away; Archer-Hind, Taylor, and Cornford in their commentaries, together with the majority of Platonic scholars, maintain that the creation contemplated by Plato in the Timaeus and the Laws is purely mythical. Against this, Gregory Vlastos rightly argues that interpreting the creation away as mythical ignores the strictly logical argument on the basis of which Plato postulates the creation of the soul in the Timaeus and turns the dialogue into nonsense.(17) Hackforth in his article on ‘Plato’s Cosmogony’ fully endorses Vlastos’ findings and explodes Taylor’s and Cornford’s arguments as based on prejudiced and inattentive reading of the Timaeus. But because of his late dating of the Phaedrus Hackforth then cannot do otherwise than to misrepresent Plato’s concept of the soul in the Phaedrus by subjecting it to the act of creation as described in the Timaeus. He writes: ‘As to the ungenerated soul of the Phaedrus, I do not believe that this should be taken as inconsistent with a pre-cosmic absence of soul.’(CQ 9, 1959, p.9) Because of their late dating of the Phaedrus on account of its alleged doctrinal affinity with the Timaeus, Platonic scholars either misinterpret the former in view of the latter or vice versa. To make this point clear, I must quote the Phaedran proof in full: ‘All soul is immortal; for that which is ever in motion is immortal. But that which while imparting motion is itself moved by something else can cease to be in motion, and therefore can cease to live; it is only that which moves itself that never intermits its motion, inasmuch as it cannot abandon its own nature; moreover this self-mover is the source and first principle of motion for all other things that are moved. Now a first principle cannot come into being (archê de agenêton, 245d1): for while anything that comes to be must come to be from a first principle, the latter itself cannot come to be from anything whatsoever: if it did, it would cease any longer to be a first principle. Furthermore, since it does not come into being (epeidê de agenêton estin), it must be imperishable (kai adiaphthoron auto anankê einai, d3-4): for assuredly if a first principle were to be destroyed, nothing could come to be out of it, nor could anything bring the principle itself back into existence, seeing that a first principle is needed for anything to come into being. The self-mover, then, is the first principle of motion: and it is as impossible that it should be destroyed as that it should come into being: were it otherwise, the whole universe, the whole of that which comes to be, would collapse into immobility, and never find another source of motion to bring it back into being. And now that we have seen that that which is moved by itself is immortal, we shall feel no scruple in affirming that precisely that is the essence and definition of soul, to wit self-motion. Any body that has an external source of motion is soulless; but a body deriving its motion from a source within itself is animate or besouled, which implies that the nature of soul is what has been said. And if this last assertion is correct, namely that ‘that which moves itself’ is precisely identifiable with soul, it must follow that soul is not born [’is not generated’, is agenêton] and does not die.’ (245c5-246a2, tr. Hackforth) The subjection of the soul in the Phaedrus to the act of divine creation found in the Timaeus would deprive the proof of its very foundation. Interpreting away the creation of the soul in the Timaeus on account of its ungenerated state in the Phaedrus would be equally damaging, this time concerning the Timaeus. For in the Timaeus Plato begins his cosmology by asking the question of the origin of the universe: ‘was the world always in existence and without beginning? or did it come into being and had a beginning?’ And he answers: ‘It came into being (gegonen)’ (28b6-7). He then proves why it was so; the reason is that it has a material component, it is visible and can be touched (horatos gar haptos te, 28b7), and all that can be perceived by the senses (ta d' aisthêta, 28c1) is subject to generation (gennêta ephanê, 28c2). He then says that the soul was created prior to the body, is therefore older than the body, and prior to it both in origin and in excellence (genesei te kai aretêi proteran kai presbuteran psuchên sômatos, 34c4-5), and therefore destined to be its mistress and its ruler (34b10-c5). In the Laws Plato upholds the doctrinal position of the Timaeus: he emphasizes that the soul came into being (genomenê, 892a5), and that it came into being prior to the body (psuchên men proteran gegonenai sômatos, 896c1-2). Aristotle’s Metaphysics can be referred to as corroborative evidence that the Phaedran proof of the immortality of the soul was discarded by Plato, and was known to have been. Aristotle says that according to Plato there is always movement, but that Plato does not say why, nor what is this movement, or what is the cause of this or that kind of movement; Aristotle adds that nothing moves at random (1071b32-33). This criticism is directed against Plato’s conception in the Timaeus of the random disorderly movement of all that is visible that preceded the creation of the soul by the god (ho theos ... pan hoson ên horaton paralabôn ouch hêsuchian agon alla kinoumenon plêmmelôs kai ataktôs, 30a3-5). Aristotle remarks that Plato cannot rightly say that that which moves itself (to auto heauto kinoun), that is the soul, is the primary source (archên) of movement, for according to Plato the soul is later than movement and coeval with the heavens (husteron gar kai hama tôi ouranôi hê psuchê, 1071b37-1072a3). It is in the Laws, in the wake of the Timaeus, that Plato declares the soul to be the ‘generated primary source of motion’ (genomenê ge archê kinêseôs, 896b3). Had Plato, as Aristotle and his readers knew him, not avowedly discarded the Phaedran conception of the soul as of necessity the ungenerated (ex anankês agenêton, 246a1) source and primary principle of all motion (pêgê kai archê kinêseôs, 245a9), Aristotle could hardly have formulated his criticism as he did. L. Robin has a very different argument for dating the Phaedrus after the Republic, which Hackforth omits mentioning. He maintains that Socrates in his first speech in the Phaedrus reproduced his own views on love from the Republic, which he then thoroughly refutes in Socrates’ second Phaedran speech on love. Martha Nussbaum goes a step further and identifies both Lysias’ erotic piece and Socrates’ first speech on love in the Phaedrus with Plato’s so called middle period views on eros. Let me therefore outline the main points of these two speeches, beginning with Lysias’ speech. In the opening lines of the dialogue we learn that Phaedrus spent the morning in Lysias’ company (227a2-4); Lysias entertained his friends with a discourse (logos) that Phaedrus characterizes as follows: ‘The discourse with which we were entertained was in a strange way erotic (ho gar toi logos ên, peri hon dietribomen, ouk oid’ hontina tropon erôtikos, 227c4-5). For Lysias described a beautiful young boy propositioned, but not by a lover, yet that’s precisely the ingenious refinement of it. He says namely that a non lover ought to be gratified rather than a lover (legei gar hôs charisteon mê erônti mallon ê erônti, 227c7-8).’ Lysias opens his discourse as follows: ‘You understand the matters concerning me (peri men tôn emôn pragmatôn epistasai, 230e6), and you have heard me say that I consider it to be to our advantage that this should happen. And I expect that I should not fail to obtain what I ask simply because I am not your lover (hoti ouk erastês sou tunchanô, 231a1-2).’ After this opening, in which Lysias invited his listeners and readers to imagine freely what the imaginary suitor actually had told the imaginary beautiful boy what he desired, wanted, and expected from him, the suitor goes on to debunk the actual or potential lovers of the boy, pointing to all the damage that they would inflict on him in the course of their erotic infatuation (dia ton erôta, 231a7). Lovers themselves admit that they are not of sound mind, but sick, that their thinking is all wrong, and that they cannot control themselves (231d2-4). The non-lover, who is not subjected to erotic infatuation, is fully in control of himself (ouch hup’ erôtos hêttômenos all’ emautou kratôn, 233c1-2), and will have an eye on the boy’s future well-being (tên mellousan ôphelian esesthai, 233c1): ‘Persuaded by me, you will become a better man than if you give in to a lover’ (233a4-5). Socrates undertakes the task of delivering a better speech on the same theme, based on the supposition (hupotithesthai) that a man in love is less sane than a non-lover (ton erônta tou mê erôntos mallon nosein, 236a8-b1). He begins by imagining a beautiful boy who had many lovers (toutôi de êsan erastai panu polloi, (237b3), and a wily lover of his who persuaded the boy that he did not love him, and pressing his suit, sought to convince him that he ought to grant his favours to a non-lover rather than a lover. And so he involved the boy in a deliberation whether one should seek the friendship of a lover rather than a non-lover, or not (potera erônti ê mê mallon eis philian iteon, 237c7-8), insisting that they must begin by defining love (peri erôtos), reaching an agreement on what it is and what is its power (hoion t’ esti kai hên echei dunamis homologiai themenoi horon, 237c8-d1). Eros is then defined as ‘an irrational desire for the enjoyment of beauty, which gains mastery over judgment that prompts to right conduct’ (hê aneu logou doxês epi to orthon hormôsês kratêsasa epithumia pros hêdonên achtheisa kallous, 238b7-c1). With this definition in front of his and the boy’s eyes (blepontes de dê pros auto, 238d9), the suitor points to the damage that the boy would incur if he bestowed his favours on a lover: ‘Now a man who is dominated by desire and enslaved to pleasure is of course bound to aim at getting the greatest possible pleasure out of his beloved; and what pleases a sick man is anything that does not thwart him, whereas anything that is as strong as, or stronger than, himself gives him offence. Hence he will not, if he can avoid it, put up with a favourite that matches or outdoes him in strength, but will always seek to make him weaker and feebler: and weakness is found in the ignorant, the cowardly, the poor speaker, the slow thinker, as against the wise, the brave, the eloquent, the quick-minded. All these defects of mind and more in the beloved are bound to be a source of pleasure to a lover; if they do not exist already as innate qualities, he will cultivate them, for not to do so means depriving himself of immediate pleasure’. (238e2-239a7, tr. Hackforth) The suitor then depicts the woes of a boy who was seduced by a lover, which he ends as follows: ‘He should have known that the wrong choice must mean surrendering himself to a faithless, peevish, jealous and offensive captor, to one who would ruin his property, ruin his physique, and above all ruin his spiritual development, which is assuredly and ever will be of supreme value in the sight of gods and men alike.’ (241c1-6, tr. Hackforth). After this outline of Lysias’ erotic piece and Socrates’ first speech on love in the Phaedrus we are in a position to critically evaluate Robin’s and Nussbaum’s argument for dating the dialogue after the Republic. Robin maintains that the eros that consists in sexual gratification, which is denounced as harmful to the body and the soul in Socrates’ first Phaedran speech, is rehabilitated by Socrates’ second Phaedran speech, in which the first speech is comprehensively refuted. Robin argues that the eros of the first speech with its denunciation has a striking resemblance to the tyrant-eros of Republic 572e-573c, and that Plato would not return to a view already rejected in the Phaedrus, certainly not without explicit justification; the Phaedrus must therefore follow the Republic.(19) What Robin overlooked is the statement in the second part of the Phaedrus, in which Socrates critically reviews both Lysias’ and his own preceding speeches on love, and where he states that his first speech discovered the form of ‘sinister’ eros ‘on which it very properly pours abuse’ (skaion tina erôta eloidorêsen mal’ en dikêi, 266a5-6). What Socrates refutes in the Phaedran second speech on love is not the denunciation of eros that is depicted in the first speech, for this is reaffirmed, but the identification of eros as such with the debased erotic drive that was brought forth in the first speech. With Martha Nussbaum we enter the field of the most recent attempts to prove a post-Republic dating of the Phaedrus. It is for this reason that her arguments deserve closer attention. Inspired by Robin and unaware of his oversight, Martha Nussbaum argues ‘that Plato, in the Phaedrus, systematically criticizes the middle-period view’ (Nussbaum p. 87). She maintains that Plato reproduced his middle-period view in Lysias’ speech and in Socrates’ first speech, which he then subjected to criticism in Socrates’ second speech. Strangely, Lysias’ speech, in which purely sexual gratification is openly glorified, and Socrates’ first speech on love, in which Lysias’ approach to love is denounced, coalesce so closely in Nussbaum’s mind that she talks of Lysias’ speech as if pronounced by Socrates. She writes: ‘The prevailing opinion that finds the two early speeches degraded and disgusting has failed to appreciate their force ... one reason why they have been lightly regarded is that Socrates ... utters them under a kind of compulsion and quickly recants.’ (Nussbaum p. 202). To make the reader appreciate the force of Lysias’ speech with its advice to a youth to submit to loveless sex with a rich and influential suitor, she points to the analogous choice faced by a young woman today: ‘For in our culture it is clearly such a woman who is most likely to be in Phaedrus’ sexual position, more or less surrounded by potential “suitors” who are more powerful and more established than she is.’ (Nussbaum p. 207). She emphasizes that Lysias is a successful, established man, a prominent defender of democratic freedom who will soon become famous for his courageous opposition to the oligarchs.She says that if we consider what a modern young woman would say to herself or what she would be advised by a concerned feminist ‘we will be on the way to understanding what is serious about Lysias’. (Nussbaum p. 208). Nussbaum connects Lysias’ speech to the middle-period Phaedo by arguing that the difference between the ascetic view which is promulgated in the Phaedo and the Lysian concept of sex ‘is only a difference about means: about whether it is easier to remain intellectually calm by having sex in this non-erotic way, or by abstaining’. (Nussbaum p. 210). In this way she substantiates her introductory claim that if we cease seeing the Greeks through the lens of Christian beliefs ‘we can not only see them more truly; we can also see how true they are to us’ (Nussbaum p. 15). One does not need to be a traditionalist Christian to have doubts concerning Nussbaum’s explaining away of the difference between Lysian sex and ascetic abstaining. In her endeavour to free herself from Christian beliefs Nussbaum omits to pay due attention to Plato’s text. Linking Lysias’ speech with the Republic, Nussbaum argues that by the very choice of Lysias, the son of Cephalus, as the author of the first Phaedran speech Plato reminds us ‘of Republic I, with its stern warning against the “mad” influence of the passions. Lysias’s speech to Phaedrus will be continuous with his father’s [i.e. Lysias’ father’s] sane advice.’ (Nussbaum p. 200). In Republic I Cephalus praises old age for freeing people from the grip of erotic passions, but he would be surprised to find his words misconstrued as advising a destitute youth to submit himself to a rich suitor; he denounces pleasure-seeking (hêdonas, 329a5, taphrodisia, 329a6, epithumiai, 329c7), while the suitor in Lysias’s speech is driven by sexual desire (epithumia, 231a3, 234a7), coveting pleasure (hêdonê, 233b7) derived from sexual gratification. Nussbaum identifies Lysias with the suitor of Lysias’ Phaedran speech and Phaedrus with Lysias’ beloved. But this is a mistake, although a mistake widely shared by scholars, as can be seen by paying due attention to the text of the dialogue. For when Phaedrus is displeased with Socrates’ dismissive attitude to Lysias’ strangely erotic piece (ouk oid' hontina tropon erôtikos, 227c4-5) and calls on him to produce a better speech (234c-235d), Socrates ripostes: ‘Have you become so serious because I criticized your beloved’ (sou tôn paidikôn, 236b5-6)? Phaedrus is not Lysias’s beloved, he is his lover. Socrates addresses Phaedrus explicitly as Lysias’ lover (ho erastês hode autou, 257b4-5) at the end of his second speech on love, after he revealed to him the nature of philosophic love, an integral part of which is abstention from homosexual intercourse; he exhorts Phaedrus to live his life so as to be fully devoted to his love for Lysias mediated by philosophic discourse. Towards the end of the dialogue Socrates once again clearly designates Lysias as Phaedrus’ beloved, exhorting Phaedrus to convey to his beloved (paidikois ... sois Lusiai, 279b2-3) the philosophic import of Socrates’ criticism. In reversing the relationship, Nussbaum (and the majority of other interpreters of the dialogue) was probably misled by Socrates’ words which he utters in search of inspiration as he embarks upon his second speech: ‘Where is that boy (ho pais, 243e4) I was talking to? He must listen to me once more, and not rush off to yield to the non-lover (tôi mê erônti, 243e5-6) before he hears what I have to say.’ Phaedrus responds: ‘Here he is, all the time quite close beside you, when you want’ (Houtos para soi mala plêsion aei parestin, hotan su boulêi, 243e7-8). Nussbaum seems to have interpreted the Lysias-Phaedrus relationship in the light of the momentarily proposed Socrates-Phaedrus relationship. Yet the lover with whom Socrates identifies as he embarks on his second speech on love is here identified with the ‘wily’ lover of Socrates’ first speech, in which he pretended to be a non-lover (237b; 241d-e), ande is quite distinct from the non-lover of Lysias’ speech, let alone from Lysias himself. The non-lover/beloved relationship of Socrates’ first speech allows a sharply critical denunciation of the Lysian suitor as driven by the ‘sinister eros’, but it precludes Socrates from conjuring up any positive picture of that relationship within the framework of that speech (241d-242a). In the second speech Socrates is bent on discovering the true eros, which inspires a philosopher, and he therefore requires a strong presence of the beloved; this is why Phaedrus slips into the role of Socrates’ beloved at his bidding. Thus Phaedrus in the dialogue plays a dual role: throughout the dialogue he is the lover of Lysias, but at the onset of Socrates’ second speech on love he for a moment plays the inspirational role of Socrates’ beloved. And as for Lysias, he can be identified neither with the suitor nor with the beloved of his own erotic piece. From the former he is expressly protected by his designation as Phaedrus’ beloved, from the latter by the wealth of his family and by the passive role of the Lysian boy throughout the piece. Lysias’ speech is intended as a display of his rhetorical skill and of his insight into the mentality of a crafty suitor; it is a paignion, a plaything, although Lysias may have written it so as to tease Phaedrus, his lover, in which he succeeded. Nussbaum writes: ‘We remember that a central example in the entire argument for the middle dialogues’ view of value was the sexual pleasure of the passive homosexual, and that this was the only pleasure that the hedonist interlocutor Callicles agreed with Socrates in finding truly disgusting [in the Gorgias]. Now [that is in the Phaedrus] it appears as a metaphor for the good life.’ (Nussbaum p. 231). Given her interpretationof the Phaedrus, it is strange that concerning the dating of this dialogue she ranges it alongside the Laws and the Philebus, which are presumably Plato’s two latest dialogues. For in the Philebus (46a-47b) Socrates refers to the satisfaction of the passive homosexual as an example of degenerate and disgusting pleasures, and in the Laws the Athenian Stranger outlaws homosexuality: 'concerning sexual intercourse (pros meixin aphrodisiôn, 836c3) … a man must not touch a man for it is an unnatural activity’ (ouch haptomenon arrena arrenos dia to mê phusei touto einai, 836c5-6). But she did not have to go to the Philebus and the Laws to discover her mistake; Socrates in the Phaedrus views not only the lot of the passive homosexual as truly miserable and totally devoid of pleasure (the passive homosexual finds his elderly suitor in the daily intercourse with him most revolting: pantôn aêdestaton, 240b6-c1; this verdict is fully corroborated at a later stage in the dialogue, cf. 266a5-6), but in his second speech he denounces the pursuit of homosexual pleasure as shameful and unnatural, upon which the depraved part of the soul is bent(hubrei prosomilôn ou dedoiken oud' aischunetai para phusin hêdonên diôkôn, 251a1). Nussbaum contends that if we doubt that the Gorgias’ example of the passive homosexual is reconsidered in the Phaedrus, ‘we have only to consider the role played in the Phaedrus by Ganymede, boy beloved of Zeus, carried off to be cup-bearer of the gods - whose name gives our English word “catamite” its origin. Socrates tells us that the word “himeros” was made up as the name for passionate desire by Zeus himself when he was the lover of Ganymede, after the flowing stream (rheuma) of passion that went (ienai) from him bearing particles (merê) which were received by his beloved (251c, cf. 255b-c). We are to realize, too, that Ganymede, made cup-bearer, became himself, in turn, a pourer of liquids.’ (Nussbaum p. 231). Does Nussbaum have a point in the end, and does she here discover the true Plato? There can be little doubt that the image of Ganymede deifies the passive homosexual. In Aristophanes’ Peace the beetle chosen to carry Trygaios to heaven is fed on ‘finely moulded shit’ obtained from a prostituted catamite (v. 10); when in heaven, the beetle feeds on ‘Ganymede’s ambrosia’ (v. 720-24). But this is precisely the reason why any attempt to transform homosexuality into an elevating spiritual relationship had to reinterpret the original image; and this radical reinterpretation is what Socrates is interested in achieving both in Xenophon’s Symposium and in Plato’s Phaedrus. In Xenophon’s Symposium Socrates says: ‘And I maintain that even Ganymede was carried by Zeus up to Olympus not because of his body but because of his soul.’ To corroborate this claim, Socrates there derives Ganymede’s name from the Homeric ‘he rejoices in hearing’ (ganutai de t' akouôn)and ‘in his mind he knows profound counsels’ (pukina phresi mêdea eidôs), which makes Ganymede ‘pleasant of thought’ (hêdugnômôn) not ‘pleasant of body’ (ouch hêdusômatos, viii, 30). In the Phaedrus the reinterpretation is more imaginative and more radical. The image of Ganymede is introduced only after the charioteer in the lover’s soul beholds the Form of Beauty and empowered by the sight with all his force checks and subdues the wayward horse’s sexual impulses, that is the soul’s lower appetites. Himeros, the flow of longing, is the flow of particles emanating from the youth and flowing towards the lover’s soul through his eyes (251c5-8); only secondarily, as a faint echo, the selfsame particles of the boy’s beauty, refracted from the lover, enter the youth through his eyes (dia tôn ommatôn, 255c6). A theory of vision based on Empedocles’ notion of effluences (aporroai, D-K fr. 89) provides Plato with a powerful tool whereby he profoundly transforms the homosexual imagery of the ancient myth. To impose sexual connotation on ‘the flow of himeros’, as Nussbaum wants it, would make Zeus into the catamite and Ganymede into the lover; she got the direction of the flow of himeros simply wrong. Throughout Plato’s text the lover is the active agent. In her chapter on the Symposium Nussbaum herself writes that ‘in all of surviving Greek art, there are no boys with erections. Dover concludes, with some incredulity, “The penis of the erastês [the lover] is sometimes erect even before any bodily contact is established, but that of the erômenos [the beloved boy] remains flaccid even in circumstances to which one would expect the penis of any healthy adolescent to respond willy-nilly”.’ (Nussbaum p. 188). When Plato’s Socrates interprets himeros as particles of beauty that flow from the face of the beloved towards the eyes of the lover, and from there, refracted, back in the eyes of the beloved, he radically spiritualizes the Zeus-Ganymede relationship. If contemporary views on homosexuality bar us from attentively reading Plato’s texts, then something is badly out of joint. Myles Burnyeat in The Presidential Address to the Aristotelian Society states that the Phaedrus presupposes the Republic; this thesis compels him to misrepresent not only the text of both these dialogues, but the Timaeus as well.(20) The primary misrepresentation concerns a long passage from Republic x that looks back on the tripartite division of the soul developed in Books iv, viii, and ix, and which he quotes in full. The passage is one of those on which von Arnim and Hackforth attempted to found their post-Republic dating of the Phaedrus; but Burnyeat makes a new point concerning it. The passage begins as follows: 'Nor must we think that in its truest nature the soul is the kind of thing that teems with infinite diversity and unlikeness and difference in and with itself. It is not easy for a thing to be immortal which is composed of many elements not put together in the very best way.' (611b1-6; Burnyeat's italics, p. 5). Further on in this passage Plato argues that if we want to know the true nature of the soul 'we must view it not marred by communion with the body and other evils as we now contemplate it, but consider adequately in the line of reason what it is when purified (611b 10-c 2) … And then one might see whether in its real nature it is manifold (polueidês) or single (monoeidês), or what is the truth about it and how' (612a 3-5, Burnyeat’s translation). Burnyeat remarks: 'The conflictedness we examined at such length in Books iv and x belies the soul's true nature; it is appearance, not reality. This does not entail that the soul is not divided or composite at all. If we look for a positive characterization, we find a disjunction: either it is composite or it is single and uniform (612a 4: eite polueidês eite monoeidês), the first option being qualified by a condition stated at 611b: no composite of many parts can be immortal unless it is put together in the finest way. Granted immortality, which Socrates has just argued for, the conclusion we are left with is that the soul in its true nature must be either uniform or a wondrously well wrought composite. As it happens (presumably, not by accident) each of these options is taken up in a dialogue which is so written as to presuppose the Republic.' (6) In what immediately follows Burnyeat develops the two items of his presumed disjunction, thus bringing into focus the Phaedrus as item 1 and the Timaeus as item 2. I speak here of Burnyeat’s presumed disjunction, for in Plato's text there is no disjunction 'either…or', but 'either … or … or', which is a very different thing. It is wrong when Burnyeat claims that ' the conclusion we are left with is that the soul in its true nature must be either uniform or a wondrously well wrought composite'. What we are left with is a project for further research, that can be conducted only if we look at the true nature of the soul, for only then we will be able to see whether it is manifold, or single, or thirdly, 'what is the truth about it and how'.(21) Concerning the first item of his presumed disjunction, Burnyeat writes: '(1) In the Phaedrus the soul is a composite imagined as a charioteer representing reason and two horses representing spirit and appetite. A god's soul is tripartite as well as the human soul, and it is a god because it knows the Forms (249c 5-6). That is how we all began (249b-c), and so long as such a soul gets its intellectual nourishment from the Forms, both horses are good and cause no trouble: their nourishment is ambrosia and nectar, the substances which sustain the immortality of the notoriously unintellectual Olympian gods.' (6). Let me confront the words I italicized with Plato's text. At the beginning of his exposition of the myth about the nature of the soul Plato writes that all the gods' steeds and charioteers are good, but that those of other beings are mixed (to de tôn allôn memeiktai). And he immediately explains what he means by their being 'mixed': 'With us men, in the first place, it is a pair of steeds that the charioteer controls; moreover one of them is noble and good, and of good stock, while the other has the opposite character. Hence the task of our charioteer is difficult and troublesome' (246a-b). Burnyeat's assertion that 'both horses' of the human souls 'are good' is simply incorrect. But this is not the only mistake, for in his endeavour to square the Phaedran text with Plato's statement in Republic x that 'it is not easy for a thing to be immortal which is composed of many elements not put together in the very best way' Burnyeat conflates the human and the divine souls, which Plato neatly separates. It is not true that on Plato's account a god's soul is tripartite as well as the human soul: Plato writes 'With us men, in the first place, it is a pair of steeds that the charioteer controls' (kai prôton men hêmôn ho archôn sunôridos hêniochei, 246b1-2), where the term 'pair of steeds' (sunôris) is used only concerning the human soul, in contradistinction to the term 'a team of winged steeds' (hupopterou zeugous, 246a7), which is used in the previous line where it is applied both to the souls of gods and to those of men. The term 'a team of steeds' (zeugos) can be applied both to a pair of horses and to a team of a larger number of horses, as in Apology 36d 8, where the first term indicates a two-horse chariot, the second term a four-in-hand chariot. As Hackforth notes in Plato’s Phaedrus, 'Plato, while definitely affirming triplicity in the souls destined to inhabit human bodies, deliberately leaves vague the number of "parts" of soul in general, and of the god's souls' (Hackforth p. 69, n.3). Burnyeat continues his account of the Phaedrus as follows: 'It is only with the loss of knowledge by some chance (tini suntichiai chrêsamenê, 248c6) that the wings drop away, with the result that one horse gets restive and drags the soul down to embodiment in a human body, where the psychological conflicts caused by the bad horse are brilliantly described. The Socratic paradox that virtue is knowledge remains true, but only from a cosmic perspective. In this life we have a soul divided against itself and liable to conflicts of the sort we read about in the Republic.' (6). I suppose that Burnyeat did read the Phaedrus, and so I find it difficult to see how he could write 'that the wings drop away, with the result that one horse gets restive and drags the soul down to embodiment in a human body', for on Plato's account it is clearly the other way round; it is the 'restiveness' of the two horses of the human soul (thoruboumenê hupo tôn hippôn, 248a 4) that is the cause of the dropping away of the wings. At 248c6 Plato describes at length the framework within which the chance takes place that leads to the dropping of wings; he does so after describing the life of the gods who periodically ascend the heavens’ vault, where they stand upon the back of the world and behold that place beyond the heavens where true being dwells: 'reason alone, the soul's pilot, can behold it, and all true knowledge is knowledge thereof' (247c7-8). Plato continues: 'Now even as the mind of a god is nourished by reason and knowledge, so also is it with every soul that has a care to receive her proper food; wherefore when at last she has beheld Being she is well content, and contemplating truth she is nourished and prospers, until the heaven's revolution brings her back full circle. And while she is borne around she discerns justice, its very self, and likewise temperance, and knowledge, not the knowledge that is neighbour to Becoming and varies with various objects to which we commonly ascribe being, but the veritable knowledge of Being that veritably is. And when she has contemplated likewise and feasted upon all else that has true being, she descends again within the heavens and comes back home. And having so come, her charioteer sets his steeds at their manger, and puts ambrosia before them and draught of nectar to drink withal.' (247d1-248e6, tr. Hackforth). It is presumably this passage on which Burnyeat based his conflated image of the life of the divine souls and the human souls prior to their loss of their wings. He failed to notice that the words 'so also is it with every soul that has a care to receive her proper food' are, as Hackforth points out,'parenthetical: that is to say, it is the felicity of the divine souls that is described down to e6, the reference to other souls being temporarily dropped, and only resumed at 248a1' (Hackforth p. 78, n.1). And there can be no doubt concerning the correctness of Hackforth's observation, for before Plato resumes his reference to the other souls he makes it quite clear that the preceding passage described 'the felicity of the divine souls': 'Such is the life of gods: of the other souls that which best follows a god and becomes most like thereunto raises her charioteer's head into the outer region, and is carried round with the gods in the revolution, but being confounded by her steeds (thoruboumenê hupo tôn hippôn, 248a4) she has much ado to discern the things that are; another now rises and now sinks, and by reason of her unruly steeds (biazomenôn de tôn hippôn, 248a5) sees in part, but in part sees not. As for the rest, though all are eager to reach the heights and seek to follow, they are not able: sucked down as they travel they trample and tread upon one another, this one striving to outstrip that. Thus confusion ensues, and conflict and grievous sweat: whereupon, with their charioteers powerless, many are lamed, and many have their wings all broken; and for all their toiling they are baulked, every one, of the full vision of Being, and departing therefrom, they feed upon the food of semblance.' (248a1-b5; tr. Hackforth). In this passage Plato describes the cause of the loss of the soul's wings (aitian tês tôn pterôn apobolês, di' hên psuchês aporrei), which he set himself at 246d. It is only at the expense of serious misrepresentation of Plato's text that these lines can be interpreted as the first 'option' mooted in Republic x, 612a4. Concerning the Timaeus Burnyeat writes: 'In the Timaeus too we have a tripartite soul, each part with its own location in the body: reason in the head, spirit (thumos) in the heart, appetite in the lower region around the liver. But reason has a different origin from the other two parts. The rational soul is created by the Demiurge, spirit and appetite by the Lesser Gods when the Demiurge decrees that reason be embodied as a challenge to seek virtue, happiness and salvation. The lesser Gods are the Sun, the Moon, and other heavenly beings who produce the cycles of generation, growth and decay in the world below. In other words, the lower two parts of the soul are the result of embodiment, and they perish at death. Only the reason is immortal.' (7). There would be nothing wrong with this paragraph concerning the Timaeus as such, if it were not presented as Plato's taking up of the second option in the presumed disjunction that Burnyeat interpreted into Republic x, 612a4. For the second option that Plato contemplates there is the soul's being a 'uniform' (monoeidês) entity, yet the soul created by the Demiurge in the Timaeus is anything but 'uniform'. For Plato describes its creation by the Demiurge as follows: 'He made the soul in origin and excellence prior to and older than the body, to be the ruler and mistress of the body ruled by her, and he composed her out of the following elements and in the following way: Out of the indivisible being (ousias) that is ever in the same state and the divisible being that comes to existence in bodies, he compounded a third form of being in the middle, composed of both. Again, concerning sameness and difference, he also on the same principle made a compound intermediate between that kind of them which is indivisible and the kind that is divisible in the bodies. Then, taking the three, he blended them all into one form (kai tria labôn auta onta sunekerasato eis mian panta idean, 35a6-7), forcing the nature of difference, hard as it was to mingle, into harmony with sameness (sunarmottôn biai, 35a), and mixing them together with being.' (35a1-b1) Clearly, the soul as it is created by the Demiurge is not 'uniform', it is composed, and composed of three parts, albeit a very different three parts than are the parts of the immortal soul in the Phaedrus. The description given above is that of the creation of the cosmic soul. As to the human souls, their creation by the Demiurge is described in the Timaeus as follows: 'And once more into the cup in which he previously mingled the soul of the universe he poured the remains of the elements, and mingled them in much the same manner; they were not, however, pure as before, but diluted to the second and third degree. And having made it he divided the whole mixture into souls.' (41d4-8; tr. Jowett). As has been seen, in Republic x Plato formulated the task of looking at the soul in its pure, disembodied state, and there to observe 'its real nature (tên alêthê phusin), whether it is manifold (eite polueidês) or single (eite monoeidês), or in what way it is (eite hopêi echei kai hopôs)', and since he could not give up on the tripartite division of the soul, his insight that ' It is not easy for a thing to be immortal which is composed of many elements not put together in the very best way' of necessity led him to making the lower two parts mortal. But in the end in the Timaeus Plato could not make even the rational soul, created by the Demiurge, into a uniform, uncomposed entity. And since he made it composed of parts that could be put together, blended into one form, and brought into harmony only by force (eis tauton sunarmottôn biai, 35a8), its immortality had to be a very different immortality from that which he ascribed to the soul in the Phaedrus and to which he clung even in Republic x. For in the Phaedrus the soul has never come into being, and as such it is of necessity imperishable (epeidê de agenêton estin, kai adiaphthoron auto anankê einai, 245d3-4), and in Republic x the soul has always existed of necessity, and therefore is immortal (anankê auto aei on einai: ei d' aei on, athanaton, 611a1-2). In Republic viii Plato states expressly that everything that came into being is perishable (genomenôi panti phthora estin, 546a2), and so we find that in the Timaeus the soul's immortality is conditional on the good will of the Demiurge, who addresses the gods he created as follows: 'Gods, children of gods, who are my works, and of whom I am the artificer and father, my creations are indissoluble if so I will. All that is bound may be undone, but only an evil being would wish to undo that which is harmonious and happy. Wherefore, since ye are but creatures (epeiper gegenêsthe), ye are not altogether immortal and indissoluble (athanatoi men ouk este oud' allutoi to pampan), but ye shall certainly not be dissolved, nor be liable to the fate of death, having in my will a greater and mightier bond (meizonos eti desmou kai kuriôterou) than those with which you were bound at the time of your birth (hois hot' egignesthe sunedeisthe).' (41a7-b6; tr. Jowett).
All these points concerning which the Phaedrus profoundly differs from the Republic and the Timaeus have been interpreted away by Platonic scholarship in general and by Burnyeat in particular in the endeavour to square the Timaeus with the Phaedrus on the basis of dating both these dialogues in sequence to the Republic.