Socrates’ students, who are attracted by the philosophic life, market starkly various portraits of Alcibiades, the many illustrious amongst Socrates’ student who determined a political life. Their presentations diverge specifically on the nature the Alcibiades’ connection with his teacher. This article suggests that Xenophon and also Plato’s contrasting presentations the Alcibiades shed light on their very own disagreement top top the suitable relationship between philosophy and also political life.
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Les élèves de Socrate, attirés par la vie philosophique, présentent des portraits nettement contrastés d’Alcibiade, le plus illustre des élèves de ce maître qui ont choisi la carrière politique. Leurs présentations divergent notamment sur la nature de la relationship qu’Alcibiade entretenait avec kid professeur. Cet article soutient que les différentes présentations qu’offrent Xénophon et Platon d’Alcibiade éclairent leur propre désaccord quant à la relationship de la philosophie et de la vie politique.
Mots-clés :Platon, Xénophon, Socrate, Alcibiade, corruption de la jeunesse, impiété, Les Helléniques, Mémorables, Protagoras, Banquet
Keywords:Plato, Xenophon, Socrates, Alcibiades, corrupting the youth, impiety, Hellenika, Memorabilia, Protagoras, Symposium
2 Th.VI.89-VII.9. 3 Balbus 2009, 396. 4 the course, the Alcibiades Minor is widely related to as a spurious dialogue. 5 Johnson 2003, xiii. 6 Forde 1987, 223.
1Socrates’ most renowned student is without doubt Plato, however such was likely not the instance during Socrates’ lifetime, or at least in the time roughly his death. His most famous students then – or quite his most notorious students – were most likely those through unpopular, even criminal, politics careers, namely, Critias and Alcibiades. Critias was a member of the Thirty Tyrants that ruled oligarchically after ~ the fall of the democracy, if Alcibiades was an Athenian general who rotate traitor come Athens’ two major enemies during the Peloponnesian War, Sparta and Persia1. Alcibiades’ treacherous counsel come Sparta was important in beating Athens’ Sicilian expedition, and also was consequentially a significant blow come Athens’ initiatives in the Peloponnesian war generally2. Socrates’ connection to both males was no doubt responsible for his besmirched reputation and also the accusations that at some point led to his trial and execution. Because these nefarious personalities were undeniably influential students that Socrates, both Plato and Xenophon search to safeguard Socrates’ association with these guys in their writings. While Plato and Xenophon offer comparable accounts of Critias’ link with Socrates, castle curiously offer different, not to say contradictory, accounts of Alcibiades’ relationship with him. Plato, to start with, acknowledges that Socrates had actually some kind of pedagogical relationship with Alcibiades, and he even “emphasizes
2Understanding Alcibiades’ relationship with Socrates is central to knowledge Socrates’ function as a teacher, and also to understanding philosophy’s public or political face. Socrates to be convicted and also sentenced to death, ~ all, ~ above accusations that impiety and of corrupting the youth8. Come the degree then, the the corruption charge is crucial for knowledge Socrates’ method of life, one need to turn to a prime example of Socratic corruption: Alcibiades.
3Both Xenophon and Plato to be guided through the exact same consideration, specific protecting or ennobling the reputation of Socrates and also thereby the philosophy. Wherein they differ, however, is in their appraisal that Alcibiades, and this, I will certainly argue, is responsible for their various presentations the his relationship to your teacher, Socrates. Plato presents an unimpressive, impetuous Athenian youth, and this presentation might or might not reflect Plato’s true tastes. Xenophon, through contrast, presents, in subtle and also understated ways, a many impressive general and statesman, one that may have actually benefited substantially from a Socratic education. There are indications in Xenophon, then, that Socrates was in some method responsible because that cultivating Alcibiades’ talents.Alcibiades in Xenophon
4Xenophon devotes very small attention to Alcibiades; the discusses him in only two the his works, and also only one of these works is Socratic, the Memorabilia. Alcibiades is absent from Xenophon’s various other three works on Socrates, and also his just other appearance is in the Hellenika, a job-related in which Socrates makes just the briefest the appearances. In fact, Xenophon never presents Alcibiades and also Socrates with each other – conversing or sharing in some typical activity. Regardless of the centrality of the partnership to Socrates’ fate, a reality Xenophon highlights, Xenophon walk his ideal to street his teacher indigenous this well known student. Xenophon downplays the relationship despite his keen awareness that Alcibiades is particularly problematic because that one who wants to defend or rehabilitate Socrates.
5Alcibiades’ relative absence is curious, because that Xenophon provides clear the the accusers had actually in mind, over all, Alcibiades and Critias as soon as they accused Socrates that corrupting the youth (Mem. I.2.12). Xenophon devotes just slightly over fifty percent of one thing to these two most problematic that Socrates’ college student in the only chapter specifically committed to defending Socrates against the fees of corrupting the youths (Mem. I.2). The subsequent three chapters apparently proceed the theme, despite indirectly, by showing exactly how Socrates benefited his friends.
6Critias and Alcibiades space singled out amongst Socrates’ associates, Xenophon reports, because they space the ones that harmed the city the most: “Critias was the many thievish, violent, and murderous of all in the oligarchy, and also Alcibiades the many incontinent, insolent, and also violent of all in the democracy” (Mem. I.2.12). If, Xenophon says, these two harmed the city, he will not defend them. By his usage of a conditional clause, Xenophon leaves open the opportunity that these two did not harm the city (or perhaps one of them did, however the other did not). He will just describe, ostensibly to defend, Socrates’ companionship through them. The gist the Xenophon’s defense the Socrates loved one to these two quantities to the following: Socrates proved himself to them to it is in a gentleman and, at the very least while lock kept firm with him, Alcibiades and also Critias were able come overpower their ignoble desires. Socrates have to be praised for maintaining the two troubled adolescents in examine for as lengthy as that did rather of being blamed for the damage they may have actually caused come the city after your relationships v Socrates ended. Then Xenophon turns to talk about Critias and Alcibiades individually; he starts with a discussion focusing on Critias before turning to Alcibiades. To show that Socrates and also Critias were on negative terms, Xenophon relates a story about a thinly veiled threat that Critias and also his associates made come Socrates once he to be a member the the ruling oligarchy recognized as the Thirty. The Thirty, of i beg your pardon Critias to be a member, were performing purges and also killing citizens, and also Socrates wonder aloud whether a great herdsman would certainly thin his herd in this manner. This remark to be reported come Critias and his comrade Charicles, and Charicles intimidates to cull Socrates indigenous the herd. If the remark is do by Charicles, Xenophon does not report the Critias rose in defense the his teacher. Although this story is no without problems, Xenophon has relatively persuasively displayed that Socrates and Critias were not on favorable terms.
9 consider the start of Alcibiades 1, and also the start of Protagoras.
7The exact same cannot be claimed of Xenophon’s direct account of Alcibiades. Xenophon prevents presenting the two males together at all and also instead relates a conversation the Alcibiades is said to have had actually with his uncle Pericles – strikingly, this is the only conversation in the Memorabilia in i m sorry Socrates does no participate. Socrates never criticizes Alcibiades, and also Alcibiades, in turn, never ever threatens Socrates. Indeed, neither speak to or about the other at all. The reported conversation in between Alcibiades and also Pericles took ar when Alcibiades was about twenty years old, approximately the age when Socrates approached Alcibiades9. The dialogue starts in Socratic fashion, with a “what is?” question, however it is a very un-Socratic “what is?” concern – one maybe too fragile for Socrates come raise self directly10. Alcibiades asks his uncle, a top Athenian politician, “What is law?” Alcibiades then proceeds come refute the definitions, in simple mimicry that Socratic dialectics, that Pericles offers. One can forget, if one loses one’s place, the function of this story. The is meant to show that Socrates did not corrupt Alcibiades and also Critias, and Xenophon insisted the while castle were v Socrates the 2 behaved well. But this story shows precisely the opposite, albeit probably somewhat delicately. This conversation shows that Socrates teach Alcibiades rhetoric, or rather dialectic – in ~ the an extremely least the conversation mirrors that Alcibiades picked up Socrates’ manner of speech. Moreover, it reflects that Alcibiades, at a an extremely young age and also quite clearly under the tutelage of Socrates, looked down upon the law (convention, nomos). Alcibiades does not deal with his de facto father with respect, and also here we room reminded the the charge of corrupting the youth to be tantamount come making the youth of Athens love Socrates an ext than your fathers (Mem. I.2.49). This conversation highlights the possible attendant problems linked with a Socratic education in a passage supposed to safeguard Socrates versus the dues of corruption:
11 Danzig 2014, 7-8.
The conversation is problematic both for the behavior that Alcibiades displays and also for the contents of his argument. Alcibiades displayed disrespect because that the political and familial authority that Pericles represents, and also argues forcefully against treating the democratic laws of Athens v respect. Together a whole, the scene appears to show that Socrates taught his college student political an abilities that are easily abused and attitudes that space anathema11.
8This is the last point out of Alcibiades in the Memorabilia, and Xenophon go not suggest to a fallout’s out in between him and Socrates prefer he did in the situation of Critias. Xenophon presents an Alcibiades who was clearly affected by Socratic philosophy. An ext important is the quiet indication that Alcibiades go in truth learn native Socrates, not just dialectics, but potentially politics affairs too (Mem. I.2.17).
13 Proietti 1987, 1.
9The Memorabilia is otherwise rather sparing in presenting Xenophon’s judgment of Alcibiades, and also it also withholds proof that Alcibiades learned around politics indigenous Socrates. For these matters, one must turn to the Hellenika, which, admittedly, expresses Xenophon’s judgment only in a hidden or subdued manner. It likewise presents Alcibiades’ political career together wildly effective without straight saying therefore – or, rather, Xenophon leaves it to the reader to referee Alcibiades’ abilities. The tenor of this work changes markedly in the 3rd chapter that the second book, through the closing of the war, most obviously, but also with the final cite of Alcibiades having actually just arisen as well12. Alcibiades features prominently up till this point. Without clearly praising Alcibiades in his own name, Xenophon relates instance after instance of Alcibiades’ political and also military acumen. When Alcibiades an initial arrives on the scene of a battle in the opened lines the Xenophon’s work, the Spartans flee (HG I.1.6). One might suppose the Alcibiades’ come simply gave the Athenians number superiority, but, as G. Proietti clues out, “every other aspect of this fight contrasts sharply v the combination of speed, daring, and mastery of Alcibiades’ command in the following battle, close to Cyzicus”13. Alcibiades quickly transforms the methods of the Athenian fleet, put on impose a greater level of secrecy regarding both the navy’s maneuvers and its size – going therefore far as to proclaim death for anyone captured sailing to the other side (HG I.1.15). In enhancement to the success at Cyzicus (HG I.1), Alcibiades is also responsible because that victories in Abydos (HG I.2), and also Chalcedon (HG I.3). The success in Abydos unites the Athenian forces, and the victory in Chalcedon was a significant victory over the Spartans. Alcibiades accomplishes this early, routing victories despite being without resources (HG I.1.14). After these initial victories, he transforms to procure resources from the Bithynians by merely threatening attack, indigenous the Greeks in Hellespont (which leader to an covenant with Chalcedon and Pharnabazos), and he obtains a hundred talent from the Kerameios region. He leverages an oath out of the Persian satrap Pharnabazos, which, if nothing else, raises the expenses of reneging on his promises. Indeed, Alcibiades for this reason outshines his contemporaries in military matters that he is unprecedentedly elected supreme command over all the other generals (hapantōn hēgemōn autokratōr <HG I.4.20>). As D. Gish points out:
14 Gish 2012, 167.
For the first and perhaps only time in the history of democracy, the fate the Athens had been placed formally right into the hand of a solitary Athenian – a feat never achieved even through Themistocles, Cimon, and Pericles14.
10The only battle that Athens loser under his generalship is undertaken by Alcibiades’ subordinate in straight opposition to Alcibiades’ direct orders (HG I.5). Indeed, this blunder prices Alcibiades his supreme command.
11Most importantly, for our purposes, is Alcibiades’ role in the last defeat the the Athenians in the Peloponnesian War, the loss of the navy at Aegospotami. Alcibiades happened to it is in observing the Athenian marine from his lock in the accumulation to the battle and also saw that the Athenians to be poorly situated for battle. See this:
15 Strauss 1968, 662. 16 Ibid. 17 take into consideration An. II.6, Cyr. VIII.7. 18 For possible accounts the Alcibiades’ death, view Plutarch, Alc. 38-39.
12Indeed, the Athenians space camped in ~ a disadvantage, and also this proves to be decisive in your defeat. The implicit reference of the generals praises, in a subdued manner, the advice of Alcibiades. “This subdued praise of Alcibiades, this implicit suggestion that if Alcibiades had been in command, Lysander would certainly not have won his decisive victory, to be the utmost the a male in scenarios such as the writer of Memorabilia i 2.12-13 could do”15. Had actually the generals who were in fee listened come Alcibiades, or, better, had Alcibiades been in charge, the navy would not have made so vital a mistake. “Xenophon therefore prepares his answer come the question worrying the proximate reason (and not just the proximate cause) the Athens’ final defeat: Lysander’s decisive win over the Athenians was rendered feasible by the Athenian generals’ contemptuous rejection of Alcibiades’ advice”16. The general impression one is left with in the first two publications is that through Alcibiades in ~ the helm, the Athenians acquired victories, and also that, there is no him, Athens endured defeats. Indeed, in this last case, Athens endured its ultimate defeat. Here, fairly unceremoniously, Alcibiades exits the stage; Xenophon renders no additional remarks about Alcibiades. Even this is curious, as Xenophon will often discuss how political leaders met their finish to convey his judgment on your lives17. Xenophon stops working to point out Alcibiades’ likely ungracious end18.
13In any event, earlier, in the midst of recounting Alcibiades’ successes, Xenophon speak the reader that over there were two prevailing opinions in Athens concerning Alcibiades at the time of his return to the city in 407. An extremely simply, there to be those who sustained Alcibiades and those who opposed him. Those who supported him said, among other things, “that he was the only one safeguarded (apologeomai) as having been exiled unjustly” (HG I.4.13). The visibility of this all-important term because that Socratic philosophers, defense or apology, should alert the attentive leader to the seriousness that this account. Xenophon relates in an excellent detail the opinion the those who sustained Alcibiades and also recognized his successful defense, while providing Alcibiades’ opponents’ views really brief remarks. The opponents, Xenophon reports, feared the Alcibiades alone would be the cause of every angry that would certainly befall Athens (HG I.4.17). Through going through Alcibiades’ successes, and showing, over all, the not following Alcibiades’ advice is what brought about Athens’ can be fried downfall, we have the right to see the Xenophon is plainly not in the camp of Alcibiades’ adversaries who attribute to him the resource of every evil the Athens suffered. Together Xenophon has declared the terms of the debate, we can start to view that he most likely sympathizes with Alcibiades’ proponents. Xenophon gives many indications that Alcibiades is a capable general and also politician, and he indicates in other places his commitment with the proponents’ watch that guys like Alcibiades do not desire a readjust in the politics order or a change (HG I.4.16). In this paper definition it is valuable to recall that Xenophon identify Alcibiades as a partisan of autonomous Athens, in comparison to the other student that Socrates, Critias, that was a partisan of the oligarchy (Mem. I.2.12).
14The proponents additionally raise the concern of Alcibiades’ alleged impiety, and also this is no the only mention of prosecuting qualified generals ~ above the grounds the impiety in the Hellenika. The psychological of the generals responsible for the Arginousai to work is similar, and also it reflects the folly the allowing spiritual zealotry to guide military and also political concerns19. The details that the occasion are well-known (HG I.6): Athens achieved an essential naval success at Arginousai, but the navy is not in good shape ~ the battle. One team of generals was sent to recoup the body of the dead, but a an excellent storm swept in and also prevented the retrieval the the fallen (HG I.6.35). ~ above the generals’ go back to Athens, they were immediately deposed and subsequently make the efforts on a charge of failing to fulfill their duties – leave behind the body of their fallen comrades was taken into consideration an action of gun impiety.
15Instead of trying the generals individually, together the law provided, the assembly met to decision whether to shot the generals en masse. This deliberation is the only debate of the Athenian assembly tape-recorded in the Hellenika. Moreover, the debate contains the only appearance in the work-related of Xenophon’s teacher, Socrates. Socrates, Xenophon relates, was the only member that the presiding committee come refuse to carry the issue to a vote, saying he would carry out nothing contradictory to the regulation (HG I.7.15). When the legality the the instance is certainly a legitimate reason to dissent from the extremely democratic assembly, one marvels whether the theorist convicted of disbelieving in the god of the city additionally recognized the folly of disallowing generals come depart, on occasion and also when need demanded it, from classic acts of piety. Regardless, that is clear the Socrates did no favor sentencing to fatality the generals.
16Apart indigenous the most likely illegality of do the efforts the generals every together, there is the slim imprudence of executing so many qualified generals once the city is in desperate need of generals. Recall, after all, that these generals had actually just completed a marine victory. Executing them steal the city of generals that are qualified of achieving together victories, yet it also deters other capable military males from follow careers in the military. Or, at least, the deters generals indigenous making daring decision that might skirt the rule of plain propriety or piety, decisions that might often be important in army matters.
17We have the right to perhaps draw an analogy in between the situation of the generals in ~ Arginousai and Alcibiades. Alcibiades may or might not have committed an action of pistol impiety, but his skills as a armed forces leader are undeniable. It would seem to it is in senseless come deprive the city the such terrific commander, unless the god are affiliated in human being affairs. While the is past the scope of the present paper to display that Socrates walk not think in gods that reward the just and also punish the angry in this world, let the suffice to imply that the did not. If my tip is correct, Socrates would not have actually supported the effort to deprive Athens the Alcibiades’ most capable leadership20.
18Putting every one of this together leads to the tentative suggestion that Xenophon thought highly of Alcibiades’ politics skills, and he place himself, ever so carefully, in the camp the Alcibiades’ supporters. Moreover, Xenophon further indicates the the an abilities that Alcibiades possesses space at least partially the result of a Socratic education, and Xenophon’s presentation of Alcibiades is component of a cool strategy to show, admittedly in pass out terms, that Socrates did possess the political skill and also that he taught it come others. While the clearest instance is in rhetoric (Mem. I.2.40-46), one need to not overlook quiet indications the Socrates taught other political skills as well, consisting of the need for deceit (Mem. IV.2, and also consider Mem. IV.6.13 and ff.), and also the recognition of the limits of factor (speech), or, to say the exact same thing, the recognition of the require for force (Mem. I.2.58)21. He additionally discussed military strategy (Mem. III.2; III.3-5) as well as how to command a cavalry (Mem. III.3)22. Much of Alcibiades’ success can be attributed to his daring usage of force and also fraud, tactics Socrates encouraged, at least with a check out to enemies. This conclusion stands, admittedly, in contrast to the usual view the Xenophon is a relatively traditional supporter of classic conceptions that morality. However as G. Danzig reminds us:
23 Danzig 2014, 7.
The widespread view of Xenophon as a simple-minded defender the conventional perspectives blinds united state to the locations where the speaks through a different, much more radical voice. Yet we should not it is in surprised to find that the enthusiastic student of Socrates, one of the many radical and also unconventional thinkers of ancient Greece, has actually some radical thoughts of his own23.
19Lastly, the course, is Xenophon’s close to explicit join that Socrates taught national politics (ta politika <Mem. I.2.17>), and Socrates’ contention the by teaching others to be proficient in politics, the participates an ext in national politics than if he straight participated self alone (Mem. I.6.15).
20Xenophon gift Alcibiades together a mainly successful general, one who benefited from and also demonstrated the services of a Socratic education and learning in politics. The presentation, however, is admittedly muted; one must connect the dots. Xenophon, the college student of Socrates, does not openly prayer someone that was perceived as among the chief criminal in Socrates’ circle without doing damage to Socrates’ reputation. The mute praise, i beg your pardon hides Xenophon’s high opinion of Alcibiades, describes why Xenophon go to together lengths to street Alcibiades native his teacher Socrates. Only with challenge can one view the reach of Socrates’ influence.Alcibiades in Plato
21Plato presents Socrates and also Alcibiades together in 4 dialogues. In what significantly must it is in the an initial meeting in between the 2 men, Socrates presents himself together Alcibiades’ lover (Alc. 1, 103a). Socrates is unusually passionate to speak to Alcibiades; the initiates the conversation and also does his ideal to catch Alcibiades’ attention. Socrates’ effort to converse with Alcibiades is unparalleled in the Platonic corpus; the those conversations initiated by Socrates, this is by far his many aggressive effort. It is relatively clear the Socrates attempts come seduce, so to speak, Alcibiades – to exhort that to come to be Socrates’ student. Socrates comes on strong, appearing really strange and making every sorts of promises. He raises Alcibiades’ ambitions (Alc. 1, 105a-d), and also asserts the Alcibiades will never get anywhere in national politics without his help. That says, “it will be difficult for girlfriend to attain all these things you have actually in mind without me” (Alc. 1, 105d). One suspects the Socrates come on so strong because that presumes that Alcibiades is a very talented youth, possibly even capable of ending up being a thinker if he is not corrupted by that great sophist, the numerous (Republic, 493a-c).
25 Strauss 1998, 14.
22Socrates uses plenty of fallacious disagreements with Alcibiades, trying simultaneously to catch his interest and also to check his abilities, and Alcibiades consistently stops working the tests24. Alcibiades, moreover, does not seem bothered through his ignorance or confusion, a sign of his perfect self-satisfaction and also further unsuitability for philosophy (Alc. 1, 119b). Socrates i do not care so disappointed – or possibly it is all a part of the ploy –, that he call Alcibiades “wedded come stupidity” (Alc. 1, 118b). When Plato’s Socrates calls Alcibiades stupid, Xenophon “gives no example of Socrates rebuking Alkibiades <…>”25. In response to Alcibiades’ self-satisfaction, Socrates procedures up the game, additional raising the comb by insisting the Alcibiades’ true rivals are the Persians and the Spartans. Finally, Socrates has captured Alcibiades’ attention, and also Alcibiades is ready to become Socrates’ student.
26 Howland 1990, 63.
23I would choose to imply that Socrates progressively loses attention in Alcibiades over the food of the very first dialogue, together Alcibiades reveals himself not to it is in too serious of a human being being. However whatever one renders of this suggestion, Alcibiades Minor confirms that things have soured in between Socrates and also Alcibiades. “Among other things”, as commentator J. Howland says, “Alcibiades II contains Socrates’ interpretation of the failure of his philosophic liaison v Alcibiades <…>”26. Alcibiades is not living up to his promise, at the finish of the ahead dialogue, to have tendency to Socrates from today forth (Alc. 2, 135e). Again Socrates initiates the dialogue, yet this time the factor is no to win Alcibiades over together a student. Rather, Socrates seems concerned around Alcibiades, and also appears to harbor a apprehension that Alcibiades intends to carry out something sinister. Ostensibly, the second Alcibiades concerns how one should pray, but Socrates seems over all interested in slow Alcibiades down. What, after ~ all, would a male as confident as Alcibiades be so dour about, and what would he it is in so unsure of that he would first consult the gods? Howland provides a shocking possibility: Alcibiades is contemplating murdering his uncle, Pericles, in an initiative to grasp political power for himself. Alcibiades reveals himself to be foolish in this dialogue, and also Socrates’ initiatives aim to protect against Alcibiades from doing miscellaneous foolish. Socrates, no longer the pursuer, expresses a fear that Alcibiades will come to be quite corrupt, and the conversation ends v an okay omen that stormy seas ahead because that Socrates (Alc. 2, 151c).
24By the time of the Protagoras, i m sorry takes ar within a year of the Alcibiades Major27, Socrates has provided up ~ above Alcibiades as a student. Return Alcibiades comes to the rescue at key points in this dialogue, the is largely lacking from the conversation. Socrates’ interlocutor throughout the entire narrative frame, one unnamed comrade, definitely holds the opinion that Socrates is quiet Alcibiades’ lover – indeed the chastises Socrates because that still gift attracted to together old of a youth as Alcibiades (Prt. 309a) – but there shows up to be tiny evidence the this is still in truth the case. Indeed, Socrates admits come the unnamed comrade in ~ the outset that he forgot Alcibiades to be even present (Prt. 309b), and, if anything, it appears as though Socrates is no longer well-disposed to the lad at every – Socrates is definitely no longer the pursuer that he remained in Alcibiades. Socrates also declares to the comrade the Protagoras is more beautiful, due to the fact that he is wiser, 보다 Alcibiades. Because Protagoras will expose himself to it is in confused regarding the an extremely thing that professes come know, Socrates’ praise of Protagoras have the right to be viewed as ironic. For this reason if Socrates hold a short opinion the Protagoras, this only additional diminishes Alcibiades in his eyes. Alcibiades, because that his part, rises on instead of of Socrates twice (Prt. 336b, 347b), indicating some affection because that his would-be teacher, but the two do not communicate directly.
25The lack of dialogue between the 2 is telling, yet not decisive. The chief evidence that Socrates has given up top top Alcibiades by the time of the Protagoras is, i believe, Socrates’ willingness come state repeatedly and also in his very own name his opinion the virtue is no teachable (Prt. 319a, 361c and ff.)28. For if Socrates is still interested in catching Alcibiades as a student, it would be foolish to deny the virtue or excellence is teachable, once the hook he provides to catch Alcibiades’ fist in the Alcibiades Major would certainly seem to count upon virtue’s being teachable (Alc. 1, 105c-d). Because that if virtue is no teachable, Alcibiades has actually no require for Socrates and can undoubtedly rely top top his organic capacities to accomplish his grandest dreams, together he had already suggested (Alc. 1, 119b-c).
26Plato’s clearest presentation of the break in between Socrates and also Alcibiades occurs in the Symposium, in a decided he puts in the mouth the Alcibiades. In ~ a party in celebration of Agathon’s poetic victory, a subdued party in i m sorry the revelers have chose to drink moderately and make encomia in respect of eros – the phenomenon or the god – Alcibiades bursts top top the step in a drunken euphoria, being carried by his own band the revellers (Smp. 212d). The atmosphere immediately changes, and also the wait of equality that has actually permeated the assembled cast of center drinkers conveniently gives means to a quasi-tyrannical mandate come imbibe excessively issued by the brand-new leader that the party – none various other than Alcibiades himself. Not only does Alcibiades alter the path of drinking, he also alters the manner of speaking. For while the previous speakers have actually each spoken in worship of love (eros), Alcibiades decides, through some prodding indigenous Eryximachus, that he will certainly speak in praise rather of Socrates (Smp. 214d-e).
29 think about the Euthyphro. 30 Republic VI.492a.
27Alcibiades’ speech in praise of Socrates presents Alcibiades’ version of the failed personality of their relationship. Alcibiades admits that he has little to no interest in what Socrates teaches; he does no wish come sit approximately talking and growing old with Socrates, despite the reality that the recognizes the Socrates appropriately sees Alcibiades’ deficiencies (Smp. 216a). Alcibiades admits the Socrates’ erotic method was a ruse, and that he was no interested at all in Alcibiades’ beautiful body – in fact, Socrates has actually no attention in beautiful bodies at every (Smp. 216d and ff.). At part point, the character of your relationship adjusted from what it remained in the Alcibiades Major: Socrates go from pursuer come pursued, and Alcibiades’ quest of Socrates to be a complete and also utter – but comical and also steamy – failure. Return Alcibiades plainly admires Socrates, his admiration is combined with enough disdain the he never seriously thought about imitating his way of life. He at first saw in Socrates the path to attain political greatness, and also the Platonic Alcibiades defines that this hope to be unfounded: Socrates discouraged Alcibiades’ from entering politics and handling the affairs of the Athenians, and, by implication, refrained from teaching Alcibiades politics (Smp. 216a). When Alcibiades may indeed have actually hoped to end up being “the finest possible” (Smp. 218d), it is clear that he never ever abandoned his early opinion that he currently knew sufficiently of what the excellence consisted, namely dominance over rather (Alc. 1, 124e). Socrates, in Plato’s presentation, is interested in Alcibiades because he holds out hope that the lad own the requisite capability to come to be a philosopher, and also he loses attention in Alcibiades once he discovers the he is unfit for such a life. This walk not average that Socrates has provided up top top Alcibiades entirely; Socrates sometimes speaks to humans for reasons various other than convert them to the life of philosophy. Sometimes, he converses v someone to prevent that person from act something vicious29. Alcibiades, ~ above this account, is unfit for philosophy as result of a lack of countless of the requisite virtues. Moreover, provided his substantial natural talent, Plato presents an Alcibiades the is specifically prone to it is in corrupted by that an excellent sophist, the many30, and also Socrates voices together a problem (Alc. 1, 135e).
Comparison and also Conclusion
28Plato gift an Alcibiades that is young, impetuous, and intellectually lazy (Alc. 1); foolish and also potentially a perpetrator that the most vicious of plot (Alc. 2); and a drunken, stunner man, that is unfit for philosophy, and also who is oblivious to the heaviness of his eminent undertaking in Sicily (Smp.). Plato admits that there to be a relationship between Socrates and also Alcibiades, placing it front and also center in his account the Socrates, yet he gift that connection as an unequivocal failure, through the blame lying squarely in ~ the feet the Alcibiades. Alcibiades simply was no suited because that a Socratic education and also fled Socrates’ agency much come his very own harm. The implication is relatively clear: Socrates can not be blamed for such a failure student; that did the ideal he can have through such a nature.
* * *
29Xenophon, by contrast, paints a snapshot of one outstanding, not to speak excellent, general, one who achieves win by force and fraud, fair means and foul. Alcibiades to be a most capable general that single-handedly began to turn the birds in Athens’ favor toward the end of the Peloponnesian War when things were looking grim. V his leave from the scene, Athens as soon as again floundered about and eventually lost. Its final defeat, come repeat, was a direct consequence of avoiding Alcibiades’ tactical advice. Xenophon’s photo of Alcibiades’ military career is definitely flattering, to say the least. This have the right to be seen as high praise, yet this praise would at some point have to be judged in the light of how seriously Xenophon took political and military matters, how seriously he take it the serious deeds the gentlemen. Xenophon distances Alcibiades indigenous Socrates, offering him the breathing room to praise the former’s military and also political acumen without risking damage to Socrates’ reputation. Xenophon provides very tiny indication at all the Socrates may have actually in fact been partly responsible because that Alcibiades’ political success.
31 Plato, Ep. 2, 314c.
30While Plato denigrates Alcibiades and Xenophon lauds him, the reverse might be said around their corresponding depictions the Socrates. Plato presents Socrates together the version philosopher, a martyr, and also a example of the virtues. Xenophon appears to go the end of his way to suppress Socrates’ excellence, to hide that from sight, or just to point to the indirectly. The goal seems to it is in to do Socrates boring, to do him sound like a moralizing old geezer that exhorts his companions virtually literally to eat your greens (Mem. III.14). The is perhaps just with a small exaggeration come say that if Plato do the efforts to make Socrates “beautiful and new”31, Xenophon do the efforts to do him rather ugly and old.
Balbus S. (2009), “Appendix M: quick Biographies of crucial Characters”, in Strassler 2009, pp. 395-416.
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Danzig G. (2014), “Alcibiades matches Pericles: Apologetic techniques in Xenophon’s Memorabilia”, G&R, 61, pp. 7-28.
Forde S. (1987), “On the Alcibiades I”, in Pangle 1987, pp. 222-239.
Gish D. (2012), “Defending dēmokratia: Athenian Justice and also the trial of the Arginusae Generals in Xenophon’s Hellenica”, in Hobden & Tuplin 2012, pp. 161-212.
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Hicks R.D. (1925), Diogenes Laertius. Resides of Eminent Philosophers. Edited through R.D. Hicks, London – New York, wilhelm Heinemann – G.P. Putnam’s boy (LCL; 184).
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1 Isocrates credits Polycrates through connecting Alcibiades and also Socrates in his Accusation that Socrates (Busiris 4-6).
3 Balbus 2009, 396.
4 that course, the Alcibiades Minor is widely regarded as a spurious dialogue.
5 Johnson 2003, xiii.
6 Forde 1987, 223.
7 The same have the right to be said with respect come Xenophon and Plato’s respective accounts of Socrates habits in court. View Danzig 2003.
8 Plato, Apology the Socrates 24b. Cf. Diogenes Laertius II. 40: “The affidavit in the case, i beg your pardon is still preserved, says Favorinus, in the Metron, ran as follows: ‘This indictment and also affidavit is sworn by Meletus, the boy of Meletus that Pitthos, versus Socrates, the child of Sophroniscus of Alopece: Socrates is guilty of refusing to acknowledge the gods known by the state, and also of introducing other brand-new divinities. That is additionally guilty of corrupting the youth. The penalty demanded is death’”.
9 consider the beginning of Alcibiades 1, as well as the start of Protagoras.
10 come ask, “What is law?” strikes at the an extremely heart of political or ancestral authority by increasing the opportunity that law is no divinely inspired yet merely conventional. Together questioning about the status of the laws might be regarded as extremely impious. In the Laws, for example, the Athenian Stranger praises laws that forbid the young indigenous inquiring in the legislations (I.634e) and also proposes instituting a comparable law in the brand-new Cretan colony of Magnesia. However, the Minos opens up with Socrates asking “What is our law?” or probably better “What is regulation to us?” over there is a question concerning how to interpret hemin, but, regardless, Socrates qualifies his question and does not merely ask “What is law?”.
11 Danzig 2014, 7-8.
12 The shift or break is well well-known in the an additional literature on the Hellenika. See Thomas 2009a, esp. Pp. xxxii-xxxvi, as well as Thomas 2009b, 418: “There is a clear break in the structure of the Hellenika in ~ this suggest
13 Proietti 1987, 1.
14 Gish 2012, 167.
15 Strauss 1968, 662.
17 consider An. II.6, Cyr. VIII.7.
18 For feasible accounts of Alcibiades’ death, see Plutarch, Alc. 38-39.
19 for an alternative account that the trial of the generals in ~ Arginousai, see Gish 2012. Gish says that the assembly is defending the autonomous character that the Athenian program by prosecuting the generals, who abandonment of countless lower course citizens, dead and alive, expose a treasonous indifference to the fate of the dēmos.
20 while the generals’ action of impiety to be directly connected to a prudential concern of safety, Alcibiades’ alleged defamation of the Hermes to be surely not. The allude of similarity is the in both instances Athens placed pious concerns above military ones.
21 Xenophon’s own political success was greatly the result of Socratic, together opposed particularly to a sophistic, education. Xenophon the college student of Socrates possessed much higher political ability than did Proxenos or Meno, students of Gorgias. See Buzzetti 2014, 104-108.
22 One should compare Socrates’ discussion of strategy with the younger Pericles right here with Cambyses’ discussion of the same topic through Cyrus (Cyr. I.6).
23 Danzig 2014, 7.
24 view the argument around who have to advise at 108b and following, Alcibiades’ acceptance of the conclusion the he does not recognize justice that starts from the premise the he does know it in ~ 110b, Socrates’ argument at 115a-116d the all simply things are great is also flawed.
25 Strauss 1998, 14.
26 Howland 1990, 63.
27 Zuckert 2012 and Nails 2002, however, posit the Protagoras first; nevertheless, each has these dialogues cluster about the same time. The order, as I know it, is Alcibiades I, then Alcibiades II, and also finally Protagoras. It seems possible, however, the the Protagoras comes between the 2 dialogues called for Alcibiades.
28 Socrates is plainly sensitive to the impact that the conversation through Protagoras will have actually on the prospects of attracting students because that both Protagoras and himself (Prt. 316b-d).
29 take into consideration the Euthyphro.
30 Republic VI.492a.
31 Plato, Ep. 2, 314c.Haut de page
Pour citer cet article
Gregory A. McBrayer, «Corrupting the Youth: Xenophon and Plato ~ above Socrates and also Alcibiades», Kentron, 33|2017, 75-90.
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Gregory A. McBrayer, «Corrupting the Youth: Xenophon and also Plato ~ above Socrates and Alcibiades», Kentron