In 1999 Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries published S.R. Slings’ monograph on the Clitopho, which deserves special attention. It contains serious errors, the discovery and correction of which will deepen our understanding of the Clitopho, of its relation to other dialogues of Plato, especially to the Apology, the Republic, and the Laws, and to a wide variety of texts that have been related to the Clitopho by Platonic scholars.
Slings views the Clitopho a
‘a condemnation ... of a specific branch of Socratic literature, to wit philosophical protreptic in its pre-Aristotelian, ethical form. The speech put into Socrates’ mouth is a parody’ (1).
He insists that the first, protreptic part of the dialogue is all irony:
‘Clitophon explains his position quietly ... When Socrates reacts with irony, this young man attacks him immediately with his own weapon (though he is more obviously ironical than Socrates). That Socrates is treated ironically by one who is obviously younger is pretty unique. Irony at the same time constitutes the framework of the reported speech’ (Slings p. 46-47).
Slings nevertheless maintains that ‘irony is absent from Clitophon’s final appraisal of Socrates’ exhortation’ (Slings p.49). He views irony at the beginning and earnest at the end of the dialogue as the main structural feature of the dialogue:
‘The purpose of the Clitophon is to deride protreptic Socratic literature, not to suggest that the statements found in that literature are nonsense. This appraisal of these statements had to be made clear somehow, and when the author keeps irony and earnest wide apart from each other, he does manage to make it clear.’ (Slings p. 49).
On Slings’ view, when Clitopho says at 408c2-3 ‘I regard them [i.e. Socrates’ protreptic speeches] as very suitable for exhorting people and very useful’, he thereby displays ironic contempt of non-Platonic explicitly protreptic Socratic literature, but when he says at the end of the dialogue ‘for a man who isn’t yet persuaded by your exhortations you are worth the world’ he thereby ‘does manage to make it clear’ (410e5-6, Slings p. 49) that he now praises in earnest the implicit protreptic that can be found in Plato’s dialogues.(2)
This cannot be right, for, firstly, no difference in tone or meaning can be found in the words that Plato puts into Clitopho’s mouth, which might justify the irony-earnest distinction. Clitopho’s final positive appraisal of Socrates at the end of the dialogue ‘For I will maintain, Socrates, that for a man who isn’t yet persuaded by your exhortations you are worth the world’ (mê men gar protetrammenôi se anthrôpôi ô Sôkrates axion einai tou pantos se phêsô, 410e5-6) is spoken in no lesser superlatives than the praise in Clitopho’s introductory appraisal of Socrates’ protreptic speech ‘I regard them [i.e. these speeches] as very suitable for exhorting people and very useful’ ([toutous tous logous] protreptikôtatous te hêgoumai kai ôphelimôtatous, 408c2-3). Secondly, and most importantly, the intervening text that keeps these two passages apart consists of not more than two Stephanus pages, in which Clitopho engages in openly criticising Socrates and his disciples for not making the next step, that is for their leaving the intentions expressed in Socrates’ protreptic speech unfulfilled; Clitopho’s intervening criticism is dependent on his positive evaluation of Socrates’ preceding protreptic speech.
Slings interprets the Clitopho as an attack
‘directed at the literary character, not the historical person, since an attack on the historical Socrates would have been effective only if Socrates were depicted with at least some consistency. It is in a way the most important argument inasmuch as it is wholly text immanent – the methodological requirement that the Clitophon should be explained from itself has been satisfied’ (Slings pp.39-40).
Slings finds the inconsistency in the depiction of Socrates in the contrast between the ironical Socrates who figures in two short entries that open the dialogue, and the Socrates of protreptic speeches criticized by Clitopho. Yet in giving substance to his ‘double character of Socrates’ claim (Slings p. 39) he trespasses against his methodological requirement all the way. In order to substantiate his claim that Socrates’ ‘willingness to accept Clitophon’s spiritual guidance’ is ironical (Slings p.40), Slings takes recourse to the Euthyphro, where Socrates invites Euthyphro to teach him all about piety (Slings p.42). In fact, there is nothing ironical in the words as such – ‘once I realise what my bad and good points are, I’ll devote all my energy to the one, and I’ll avoid the other like the plague’ (407a2-4, tr. Slings) – with which Socrates invites Clitopho’s criticism in the Clitopho. To take them as ironical, one must take recourse to at least one other dialogue of Plato. (The reader might be misled by Sling’s translation ‘I’ll avoid the other like the plague’. Socratessimply says ‘I’ll avoid the other with all my strength’: ta de pheuxomai kata kratos.) Slings’ ‘methodological requirement that the Clitophon should be explained from itself’ (Slings p.2) is unsustainable.
I do also view Socrates’ willingness to listen to Clitopho’s criticism as ironical, for in the eyes of the readers of any of the dialogues written prior to the Clitopho Socrates’ ‘expectation’ that Clitopho knows better than he what is praiseworthy and what blameworthy in his philosophic activities had to be viewed as ironical. In particular, Clitopho’s words ‘concerning certain things I did not praise you, concerning others I praised you’ (ta men gar egôge ouk epêinoun se, ta de kai epêinoun, 406a6-7) must have evoked in the minds of Plato’s readers the Hippias Major and the Hippias Minor, in which Socrates countered Hippias’ propensity to apportion praise and blame – praising himself, his educational speeches, and his favourite Homeric characters, Nestor and Achilles, while disparaging Odysseus, Socrates and Socrates’ followers – with biting irony. What must have been surprising for the readers of those dialogues was Clitopho’s subsequent praise and criticism of Socrates, in which the pitfalls into which Hippias had fallen because of his inability to substantiate his praise and blame by grounding these in a definition of beauty, are avoided, so that Socrates’ introductory irony falls flat by virtue of Clitopho’s critical appraisal of Socrates. For Clitopho expresses his praise by reproducing Socrates’ protreptic discourse, and disparages merely the fact that Socrates fails to deliver the main thing, that is the instruction concerning the next step to which the protreptic discourse is pointing.
In Plato’s works there is one other dialogue in which Socrates’ irony is similarly rebuffed, the Sophist (accompanied by its dramatically immediate follow up, the Politicus). Theodorus opens the Sophist by telling Socrates that he and his friends have come, as agreed, to resume the discussion interrupted at the end of the Theaetetus. He says: ‘we bring with us a stranger from Elea, who is a disciple of Parmenides and Zeno, and a true philosopher’ (mala de andra philosophon, 216a4). Socrates responds: ‘Is he not rather a god, Theodorus ... one of those higher powers, a cross-examining deity, who has come to spy out our weakness in argument, and to cross-examine us?’ (216a5-b6) Theodorus rebuffs him: ‘No, Socrates, these are not his ways, he is of better sort than those who devote themselves to eristic disputations. In my view he is not god at all, but divine he certainly is, for I call all philosophers divine.’ (216b7-c1). Socrates’ introductory irony is then negated by the whole subsequent philosophic performance of the Stranger of Elea. The Eleatic Stranger in the Sophist reduces Socrates to silence as Clitopho does in the Clitopho.
The late dating of the Sophist is guaranteed by the combined force of stylometric criteria concerning Plato’s vocabulary (from L. Campbell to P. Natorp), the frequency of hiatus (Janell), rhythmic clausulae (Kaluscha and Billig), prose rhythm of the whole sentences (Wishart and Leach), and Ledger’s ALETs, BLETs and CLETs. (Cf L. Brandwood, The chronology of Plato’s dialogues, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1990; G. R. Ledger, Re-counting Plato, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1989.) How can I then derive from the Sophist an elucidation of the Clitopho, which I view as an early dialogue? My answer is that the elderly Plato himself felt that the dialogues he wrote prior to Socrates’ death, and the Clitopho in particular, needed elucidation. This is why he dramatically placed the Sophist after Meletus’ accusation against Socrates. In the dialogues that Plato wrote prior to Socrates’ death he wrestled with Socrates’ philosophic ignorance. This struggle culminated in the Clitopho, and it bore fruit on Socrates’ last day in his discussion on the immortality of the soul, which Plato later immortalized in the Phaedo. By dramatically placing the Sophist, in which the Stranger from Elea shows Socrates what philosophy is all about, after the Euthyphro, in which Socrates’ ignorance is strongly pronounced, and prior to the Phaedo, in which it is overcome by Socrates, Plato wants to shed light on his struggle with Socrates in his early dialogues, especially on the Clitopho. (3)
Slings’ observation that in the Clitopho we are presented with the double character of Socrates, that is the ironic Socrates and the Socrates of protreptic speeches, is correct, but it does not substantiate his claim that in the dialogue it is the literary character, not the historical person that is under attack in the dialogue. For the ‘protreptic’ and the ‘ironical’ Socrates can be found side by side in other dialogues of Plato, notably in the Apology and in the Euthydemus.
Slings published the first version of his book on the Clitopho under the title A Commentary on the Platonic Clitophon. When he wrote it, he believed that the dialogue’s author was not Plato: ‘hesitatingly and with some reluctance, I conclude that the Clitophon was not written by Plato, but by a very close and intelligent pupil of Plato, who wished to advertise his master’s ideals of philosophic literature.’(4) The present version bears the title Plato: Clitopho. As the changed title suggests, Slings revised his view concerning the dialogue’s authenticity: ‘although not without hesitation, I accept the Clitophon as a genuine work of Plato’ (Slings p. 234). One would expect that Slings’ change of view profoundly affected his interpretation of the dialogue, but the comparison of the two versions of his book shows that except for the title change, most of the second version remained the same: ‘while rereading what I wrote seventeen years ago, I have felt that my interpretation of it did not require major changes’ (Slings p. xi). As a consequence for much of his extensive ‘Introduction’ and of his ‘Commentary’ Slings speaks about ‘the author of the Clitopho’ in a manner inconsistent with Plato as its author; the critical review of his arguments will reaffirm the dialogue’s authenticity.
Having made the assumption that Socrates’ protreptic speech in the Clitopho ‘is intended as a parody’, Slings asks ‘whether one item in the protreptic corpus is being parodied throughout, or various motifs from various protreptic texts are being mixed together into a protreptic pastiche’ (Slings p.93).Both these possibilities had been mooted by authors who viewed the dialogue as inauthentic. The first possibility derives from Dio’s thirteenth Oration, which avowedly reproduces a protreptic speech of Socrates; Diogenes Laertius preserved a list of publications of Antisthenes, in which are listed three Protreptici, and Dio is believed to have reproduced one of these, drawing perhaps on all three. A number of scholars assume that both the author of the Clitopho and Dio had one of Antisthenes’ Protreptici as their common source. Slings rejects this theory, claiming that neither the Clitopho nor Dio’s Oration 13 have anything to do with Antisthenes; he views Dio’s Oration as Dio’s own variations on the Clitopho (Slings p. 96). The matter is of considerable importance, for if Slings is right, then the only texts we have of Antisthenes, is a brilliant portrait of him in Xenophon’s Symposium, enriched by a few touches in Xenophon’s Memorabilia, and also some fragments. If Slings is wrong, then Dio’s Oration 13 not only considerably enriches our view of Antisthenes, who after Plato was arguably the most influential follower of Socrates, but in conjunction with the Clitopho it allows us to glimpse the relationship of Plato and Antisthenes to each other, as well as to Socrates and to his legacy. I will show that Slings’ arguments are based on an inattentive reading of the texts he discusses and on flawed pronouncements concerning the literature of the fourth century BC.
Slings informs the reader that
‘von Arnim claimed that both Dio and the author of the Clitophon use one of the three Protreptici of Antisthenes. As Dio mentions the battle of Cnidus (13.26), this source must have been written after, and not long after, 394 BCE. Dio is thought to follow Antisthenes closely, whereas the Clitophon offers a short recapitulation.’ (Slings pp.94-5).
Slings dismisses von Arnim's hypothesis, arguing that in paragraph 16 of his speech Dio closely paraphrases Clitopho 407b1-c2, but that the remaining speech is of Dio's own making. Slings writes:
‘If the whole of 13.16-27 is in essence (apart from rephrasing on Dio’s part) a fourth-century text [as von Arnim suggests], there are some features which seem strange at best, whereas they are perfectly plausible if regarded as Dio’s own variations on a fourth century theme (to wit, the Clitophon). At 13.24 the Persians are praised for their education because they thought it disgusting to strip and to spit in public - would any fourth-century Greek have considered the observance of these taboos a mark of paideia?’ (Slings p. 96)
In the accompanying note Slings says:
‘It would fit in well with Dio’s time, cf. Plin. NH 7.19.80: Antonia minor is said numquam expuisse [never to have spitted].’ (n.175, on p.96).
Firstly, Slings is wrong when he says that in Dio’s speech ‘the Persians are praised for their education’. At 13.23 Dio speaks about Socrates’ objectors, Athenian politicians and orators, who argued that the Athenians won their two great victories against the Persians by virtue of their traditional education, and at 13.24, i.e. in the paragraph to which Slings refers, he says:
‘In answer to anyone using such arguments he [Socrates] would reply that neither had their enemies [the Persians] received any education before they came, nor did they know how to deliberate about affairs of state, but had simply been trained to shoot and ride and hunt, while they thought exposure of the body the most shameful thing, and spitting in public. But those things, he [Socrates] said were destined to avail them not at all.’ (tr. J.W. Cohoon in the LCL edition of Dio Chrysostom.)
Secondly, he is equally wrong in suggesting that no fourth-century Greek would have considered the observance of not spitting in public a mark of paideia. For Xenophon says in Cyropaedia I.ii.16 that ‘even now the Persians consider it shameful to spit’ (aischron men gar eti kai nun esti Persais kai to ptuein), viewing their discipline in this matter as part of their education, their paideia. Commenting on what he said in I.ii.16, Xenophon maintains that ‘this was the education (tautêi têi paideiai) in which Cyrus was brought up (epaideuthê)’ (I.iii.1).
Slings says that von Arnim’s hypothesis according to which both Dio’s thirteenth Oration and the Clitopho have Antisthenes’ Protrepticus as their common source ‘is nowadays usually accepted in treatments of Antisthenes or Dio, while authors on Clit. dismiss it or ignore it altogether’ (Slings p.95, n.173). I may remark that for those writers on the Clitopho who view the dialogue as inauthentic there is no compelling reason for dismissing von Arnim’s hypothesis, but that it is very different for those who view the Clitopho as authentic, yet late, as is the case of Slings (Slings pp. 216-222). For in their case the view that Dio’s thirteenth Oration derives from Antisthenes’ Protrepticus, which is the essential element of von Arnim's hypothesis, would leave them with no other option than to consider Plato as a borrower from Antisthenes. So let us examine Slings’ arguments against von Arnim’s thesis. Slings says that ‘the characterization of Socrates as a theos apo mêchanês’ in paragraph 14 of Dio’s Oration is destructive of von Arnim’s hypothesis, for on that hypothesis ‘this expression must, as von Arnim admits, have been used by Antisthenes himself’, and ‘what seems a highly functional element of ridicule in the Clitophon now becomes, at best, a clumsy indication of eulogy’ (Slings p.95). Slings implies that while Dio in the first century AD can be credited with such clumsy eulogy, it could not have been part of Antisthenes’ Protrepticus written in the fourth century BC. Since it is on this point that Slings states his case, it must be examined with due thoroughness.
Dio says in his Oration:
‘at times, when at a loss (hupo aporias), I would have recourse to an ancient appeal (êia epi tina logon archaion) made by a certain Socrates (legomenon hupo tinos Sôkratous), one that he never ceased making ... like a god swung into view by the machine (hôsper apo mêchanês theos), as someone has said’ (hôs ephê tis, 13.14, tr. J.W. Cohoon).
Dio is neither clumsily eulogistic of Socrates, nor ironical when he compares him to a god swung into view by the machine; he has no illusion of the protreptic efficacy of Socrates’ appeal, yet he takes recourse to it for it is the best he can do. In Plato’s dialogue Clitopho employs the expression ‘I thought you put things better than any other, every time you disparaged mankind like a god in a tragedy (hôsper epi mêchanês tragikês theos)’ (407a7-8, Slings’ translation) to introduce both his praise and his criticism of Socrates.
The comparison is in itself a noble one, and worthy of Socrates, if he provided a real solution to the human predicament addressed in his protreptic speech. Demetrius, to whom Slings refers, sheds light on this point in On Style where he says that ‘a man speaking in maxims (ho de gnômologôn) and delivering exhortations (kai protrepomenos) does not seem to be commanding any more (ou di’ epistolês eti lalounti eoiken) but speaking from the machine as in tragedy’ (all’ apo mêchanês). Let me note that Cohoon’s ‘like a god swung into view by the machine’ (hôsper apo mêchanês theos) in his translation of Dio corresponds to Slings’ ‘like a god in a tragedy’ (hôsper apo mêchanês theos) in his translation of the Clitopho, and to ‘speaking from the machine as in tragedy’ (all’ apo mêchanês) in my rendering of Demetrius’ words quoted by Slings (p. 89, note 166).
Slings says that
‘the comparison [of Socrates to ‘a god in a tragedy’] may have been suggested to the author [of the Clitopho] by the famous scene in Aristophanes’ Clouds, where Socrates “enters” the stage in a basket hanging on a mêchanê and behaves (and is treated) like a deity. This scene was remembered in later times, for peripheromenon (Apology 19c3-4) is an unambiguous reference to it’ (Slings, note on Clitopho 407a8, p. 272).(5)
Let us therefore consider the relationship between the Clouds, the Clitopho, and the Apology more thoroughly. In the Apology Socrates connects the old calumnies concerning his philosophic activities with Aristophanes’ ridicule of him in the Clouds and rejects both in one breath:
‘It is just what you have yourselves seen in the comedy of Aristophanes, a certain Socrates swinging about (Sôkratê tina ekei peripheromenon) and saying that he walks in air, and talking a lot of nonsense concerning matters of which I know nothing at all’ (19c2-5).
Socrates’ unequivocal rejection of Aristophanes’ comic presentation of him as a god speaking from a basket (apo tarrou, Ar. Clouds 226) hung up in the air presents a great difficulty for those who accept Plato’s authorship of the Clitopho, yet date the dialogue after the death of Socrates. For the question arises of how Plato could take recourse to Aristophanes’ comic imagery after the comparison had been rejected so unequivocally by Socrates himself in his Defence. This question does not arise in this form on the dating of the Clitopho prior to Socrates’ trial and death. Instead, the question is why did Plato point at Aristophanes’ Clouds when addressing the living Socrates in the Clitopho?
To answer this question, I must briefly recapitulate what I said in the chapter on the Phaedrus and on the dialogues intervening between it and the Clitopho. The Phaedrus was written as a direct response to Aristophanes’ attack on Socrates in the Frogs, staged in 405, where the chorus ridicules those who ‘sit around Socrates in idle talk having thrown away mousikê and abandoning the greatest aspects of the art of tragedy’ (1492-5). Within the framework of the play this attack was aimed at Euripides, but as we know from Diogenes Laertius, Plato abandoned his poetic ambitions as a writer of tragedies as a consequence of his becoming a follower of Socrates (iii. 5-6), and this happened just a few years before Aristophanes wrote the Frogs. In response to Aristophanes’ attack, Plato showed in the Phaedrus that philosophy pursued by Socrates was the greatest mousikê, and by writing the dialogue he demonstrated that far from abandoning mousikê as a result of becoming Socrates’ follower he embraced it in its highest form. Socrates, prone to enthusiastic flights of philosophic thought and imagery in his private discussions with Plato, Alcibiades and presumably others (cf. Plato, Symposium 215a-218b), reacted to the publication of the Phaedrus by retrenchment in the fortress of his philosophic ignorance. Consequently, Plato struggled against Socrates’ stance of not-knowing in the Charmides, Hippias Major, Lysis, and Hippias Minor. When all this effort brought no visible fruit, Plato in the Clitopho returned to Aristophanes, confronting Socrates with the comic picture of him in the Clouds: he would be truly ridiculous if he remained sticking in his ignorance. In the Cratylus Plato’s Socrates says that ‘when the writers of tragedy are in any difficulty (epeidan ti aporôsin) they have recourse to raising gods in the air upon theatrical machines’ (epi tas mêchanas katapheugousi theous airontes, 425d4-5), referring to the device as an unreal solution, an evasion (ekdusis, 426a2). This passage sheds light on Plato’s use of the metaphor in the Clitopho: as long as Socrates confined himself to protreptic speeches, he failed to provide the real solution to which those speeches pointed.
In the wake of the accusation, trial, and death of Socrates Plato’s criticism of Socrates had to be retracted; in the Apology and in the Euthydemus Plato presented Socrates’ protreptic activities in an unequivocally positive way, as if they provided in themselves proper moral and political guidance. But this was only a partial and unsatisfactory response to the problems with which Plato was preoccupied in the Clitopho, for Clitopho’s criticism of Socrates was fully justified at the time of the publication of the Clitopho, and it had a positive impact on Socrates. Plato therefore reopened these problems later on, in the Republic, where Socrates gives a comprehensive positive answer to the challenge with which the historical Socrates was confronted in the Clitopho. The first book of the Republic ends with Socrates’ retreating into his ignorance, and the second book opens with a radicalized Clitophonian challenge, which is taken out of Clitopho’s hands and passed to Plato’s brothers Adeimantus and Glaucon, who compel Socrates to outline the activities and the deeds to which the life of virtue leads. Clitopho, who is present in all this, is reduced to a philosophically inept onlooker whose blinkered vision had been emphasized by his abortive attempt to side with Thrasymachus against Socrates in Republic i. The construction of the ideal state in the Republic enabled Plato to re-enact on a higher level his struggle with the historical Socrates that culminated in the Clitopho. But more had to be done, for Aristophanes’ caricature of Socrates as a god hanging in the air in a basket and talking to people from the height of his philosophical speculation – ‘why are you calling me, you ephemeral human being?’ (ti me kaleis ôphêmere, Ar. Clouds 223) – retained all its power in spite of Socrates’ rejection of it in the Apology, and thus reflected negatively on Plato’s use of the metaphor in the Clitopho. It may be argued that the Clouds became even more popular and influential thanks to the trial and to the Apology than when it was first staged, for when staged the comedy was regarded a failure, whereas the very fact that its text has been preserved, copied and re-copied, shows its growing popularity.And so Plato in the Theaetetus, dramatically situated shortly before Socrates’ trial and death (210d), presents us with Socrates who instead of persisting in denial, puts forward the ideal of a philosopher soaring high above ordinary concerns of men, using words and images that correspond to Aristophanes’ Clouds on the one hand, and to Plato's Clitopho and Apology on the other:
‘the philosopher grows up without knowing the way to the market place, or the whereabouts of the law-courts or the council-chambers or any other place of public assembly. Laws and decrees, published orally or in writing, are things he never sees or hears. The scrambling of political cliques for office; social functions, dinners, parties with flute-girls never enter his head even in a dream (173c-d) ... His mind, having come to the conclusion that all these things are of little or no account, spurns them and pursues its winged way, as Pindar says, throughout the universe, “in the deeps below the earth” and “in the heights above heaven (173e) ... Whenever he is obliged, in a law-court or elsewhere, to discuss the things that lie at his feet and before his eyes, he causes entertainment (174c) ... But when he in his turn draws someone to a higher level [hotan tina helkusêi anô, ‘drags someone up’ says the original, 175b9] ... [someone] with the small sharp, legal mind, the situation is reversed; his head swims as, suspended at such a height (apo hupsêlou kremastheis), he gazes down from his place among the clouds; disconcerted by the unusual experience, he knows not what to do next, and can only stammer when he speaks. And that causes a great entertainment (gelôta parechei, ‘occasions laughter’, 175d) ... a man should make all haste to escape from earth to heaven; and escape means becoming as like God as possible (homoiôsis theôi kata to dunaton); and a man becomes like God when he becomes just and pure, with understanding’ (176a-b, tr. M.J. Levett)
When we compare Plato’s Clitopho with Aristophanes’ Clouds on the one hand and Dio’s Oration on the other, it is noteworthy that when Clitopho in Plato’s dialogue compares Socrates to ‘a god in a tragedy’ he uses the preposition epi (hôsper epi mêchanês tragikês theos), and so does Socrates in the Cratylus when he explains the use of this expression (epi tas mêchanas katapheugousi theous airontes, 425d4-5). In contrast, Aristophanes uses the preposition apo (apo tarrou tous theous huperphroneis, 226), and so does Dio in his Oration (hôsper apo mêchanês theos, 13.14). This suggests that Dio’s source is not Plato’s Clitopho, but Antisthenes, and that Antisthenes in his Protrepticus endeavoured to overcome the persisting influence of the Aristophanic caricature of Socrates by expressly evoking it in order to negate it by virtue of his presentation of Socrates truly speaking ‘as god from a machine’, just as Plato later did in the Theaetetus with much greater force. It is noteworthy that in the Theaetetus, going back to the Clouds, Plato also uses the preposition apo: apo hupsêlou kremastheis – ‘hanging from such height’ 175d2. This hypothesis can be further supported by Demetrius in On Style, for he too uses the preposition apo (apo mêchanês), where there are reasons to believe that, contrary to Slings, Demetrius draws on Antisthenes’ Protreptici, and not on Plato’s Clitopho. For in Demetrius the protreptic is associated with gnômologia, that is ‘speaking in maxims’, and the ‘Life of Antisthenes’ in Diogenes Laertius indicates that gnômologia was an essential part of Antisthenes’ philosophizing (Diog. Laert. vi. 10-13). It is worth noting that the paragraphs containing Antisthenes’ gnômologia in Diogenes Laertius are followed by the assertion of Theopompus that Antisthenes ‘could by means of agreeable discourse win over whomever he pleased’ (hupagagesthai pant’ hontinoun, vi. 14). Presumably, Theopompus refers here to Antisthenes’ Protreptici, and if we view the protreptic speech preserved in Dio as the introductory Protrepticus, we may justifiably suppose that the remaining two Protreptici of Antisthenes took extensive recourse to gnômologia.
Further indications that Dio reproduced the Protrepticus in which Antisthenes referred to the Clouds can be found in the passages in Dio’s Oration devoted to Socrates’ criticism of the traditional education of the Athenians. At 13.19 Socrates scorns the Athenians for thinking that their sons will be qualified ‘to handle both their own and the public’s interests if only they can play satisfactorily “Pallas, dread destroyer of cities” (Pallada persepolin deinan)’. This song is quoted in Clouds 967 – Pallada persepolin deinan – as part of ‘the education that reared the men who fought at Marathon’ (Clouds 986). At 13.23 of Dio’s oration Socrates rejects the argument that the Athenians won their victories against the Persians by virtue of their traditional education.
In Plato’s Apology Socrates characterizes his own philosophic activities as protreptic in their nature, and he gives there no indication that there was anything lacking in those activities; in fact, he goes so far as to declare that with his philosophic activities he was procuring true happiness to people (36d9-e1), which he could hardly have done had he at that point viewed those activities as inadequate. Dio’s thirteenth Oration is in full harmony on this point with Socrates’ Defence, for it ends by claiming that Socrates bade men to seek to be good men, for he knew that this was tantamount to the pursuit of philosophy (13.28), which, bringing the right education, induced true happiness (13.31). It is difficult to see how Dio could have constituted his protreptic Oration in this positive manner if his source was the Clitopho of Plato, the second part of which consists of the criticism of Socrates for his inability or unwillingness to transcend protreptic exhortations by proceeding ‘to what comes next’. And so we have every reason to believe that when Dio in his Oration says that he was ‘taking recourse to an ancient discourse made by a certain Socrates’ (êia epi tina logon archaion, legomenon hupo tinos Sôkratous, 13.14), he announces his reproduction of Socrates’ protreptic discourse taken from Antisthenes’ Protrepticus: Antisthenes ‘held virtue to be sufficient in itself to ensure happiness, since it needed nothing else except the strength of Socrates’ (Diog. Laert. vi.11, tr. R.D. Hicks). As it stands, Antisthenes’ Protrepticus as reproduced in Dio’s thirteenth Oration presents a sharp criticism of Plato’s Clitopho, which is emphasized by the similarity between the introductory passages in both. The rivalry between Antisthenes and Plato is well documented (cf. Diog. Laert. iii.35, vi.7, vi. 16).)
Although Slings claims that Dio’s Oration ‘has little in common with our dialogue’, apart from the paragraph 16 (with the addition of the first sentence in paragraph 17) (Slings p. 94), he finds other parallels, for he needs to justify his assertion that Dio’s Oration has nothing to do with Antisthenes, but contains instead Dio’s own variations on the Clitopho (Slings p. 96):
‘two of the results of justice as defined in the discussion of Clitophon and Socrates’ pupils (to sumpheron and homonoia) are referred to in Dio 13.19; probably, too, the closing words of the Clitophon are echoed in Dio 13.35’ (Slings p. 96).
Let us subject these presumed parallels to closer inspection.
In the Clitopho, Clitopho says that he asked Socrates’ followers what is the product that a just man can produce. One man replied ‘the useful’ (to sumpheron), another ‘the fitting’ (to deon), another ‘the beneficial’ (to ôphelimon), and another ‘the profitable’ (to lusiteloun) (409c1-3). Clitopho subjects all these answers to Socratic elenchus and finds all of them wanting (c3-d2). On Slings’ hypothesis, Dio nevertheless picked up from the Clitopho one of these four answers, that is ‘the useful’ (to sumpheron), and then went on searching the Clitopho for another suitable expression, until he came across the concept of ‘intellectual harmony (homonoia) at 409e4. He then put both these concepts into the mouth of Socrates criticising his fellow-citizens for their lack of interest in proper education:
‘But as to how you are to learn what is to your advantage (hopôs de gnôsesthe ta sumpheronta) and that of our native city (têi patridi), and to live lawfully and justly and harmoniously (meth’ homonoias) in your social and political relations without wronging and plotting against one another, this you never learned nor has this problem ever yet given you any concern, nor even at this moment does it trouble you at all.’ (13.19, tr. J.W. Cohoon).(5)
Let me add that the concept of homonoia is subjected to elenchus in the Clitopho just as the concept of to sumpheron: One of Socrates’ followers replied to Clitopho that the proper product of justice was philia (friendship), and when it appeared that many forms of philia are harmful, he identified philia with homonoia (concord, 409e4). Asked whether this homonoia means unanimity of opinion (homodoxia) or knowledge (epistêmê), the follower replied that it is knowledge, and thus the whole discussion ended in a vicious circle (409e4-410a6), for it began with the identification of justice with knowledge.
As can be seen, the contexts in which the concept of to sumpheron and homonoia stand in the Clitopho and in Dio’s Oration are very different. In Dio’s Oration these two concepts are used as an essential part of Socrates’ protreptic exhortations, and are closely linked with the notions of ‘living lawfully and justly’ (nomimôs kai dikaiôs), whereas in the Clitopho these concepts are disjointed, set outside Socrates’ protreptic exhortations, and found unsatisfactory. Luckily, as scanty as the vestiges of Antisthenes are, we can find both these concepts as he reportedly used them. Diog. Laertius quotes Antisthenes’ ‘When brothers are in harmony, no fortress-wall is so strong as their common life’ (Homonoountôn adelphôn sumbiôsin pantos ephê teichous ischuroteran einai, vi.6). I find the use of the concept of ‘harmony’ (homonoia) by Socrates in Dio’s Oration 13 much nearer to its use by Antisthenes as quoted by Diog. Laertius than to its use in Plato’s Clitopho. The same is true of to sumpheron used by Antisthenes in Xenophon’s Symposium (iv.39).
The symposiasts decided to entertain each other by saying what each of them was most proud of. Antisthenes declared that he took pride in his wealth (epi ploutôi). Asked how much money he had, he swore he did not have even a penny (mêde obolon, iii.8). At a later stage, Socrates addressed him: ‘take your turn and tell us how it is that with such slender means you base your pride on wealth.’ Antisthenes replied:
‘Because, sirs, I conceive that people’s wealth and poverty are to be found not in their real estate but in their souls. For I see many persons who though possessors of large resources, yet look upon themselves as so poor that they bend their backs to any toil, any risk, if only they may increase their holdings ... As for such men, I pity them deeply for their malignant disease; for in my eyes their malady resembles that of a person who possessed abundance but though continually eating could never be satisfied. For my own part, my possessions are so great that I can hardly find them myself; yet I have enough so that I can eat until I reach a point where I no longer feel hungry and drink until I do not feel thirsty and have enough clothing so that when out of doors I do not feel the cold any more than my superlatively wealthy friend Callias here, and when I get into the house I look on my walls as exceedingly warm tunics and the roofs as exceptionally thick mantles; and the bedding that I own is so satisfactory that it is actually a hard task to get me awake in the morning. ... In a word, all these items appeal to me as being so conducive to enjoyment that I could not pray for greater pleasure in performing any one of them, but could pray rather for less – so much more pleasurable do I regard some of them than is good for me (hêdiô einai tou sumpherontos) ... But – most exquisite possession of all! – you observe that I always have leisure (tên scholên), with the result that I can go and see whatever is worth seeing, and hear whatever is worth hearing and – what I prize highest – pass the whole day, untroubled by business, in Socrates’ company (Sôkratei scholazôn sundiêmereuein)’. (iv.34-44, tr. O.J. Todd).
What remains to be discussed concerning the alleged parallels is Slings’ surmise that the closing words of the Clitopho are echoed in Dio 13.35. The first thing to note is that 13.35 stands outside the protreptic speech of Socrates reported in Dio’s Oration, just as the end of the Clitopho stands outside Socrates’ protreptic speech reported in Plato’s dialogue. But this is about the only similarity I can detect between the two. In Clitopho's closing words in the dialogue the criticism of Socrates culminates; he entreats Socrates to tell him what is the care for the soul that he propounds, and says that if he obtains no answer to his entreaty, he will have to say that Socrates is worth the world to those who are not yet persuaded that they ought to pursue virtue, but that to those who have been persuaded he is a stumbling-block on their way to acquiring complete virtue and happiness. In contrast, Dio at 13.35 is entirely positive, enlarging upon the main theme of Socrates’ protreptic speech. To understand what Dio says at 13.35, we must bear in mind that Dio’s thirteenth Oration is presented to the Athenians, and that it consists of three different parts. In paragraphs 1-13 Dio speaks of his own life as an exile:
‘putting on humble attire and otherwise chastening myself, I proceeded to roam everywhere. And the men whom I met, on catching sight of me, would sometimes call me a tramp and sometimes a beggar, though some called me a philosopher (13.10-11) ... For many would approach me and ask what was my opinion about good and evil ... And the opinion I had was that pretty well all men are fools, and that no one does any of the things he should do, or considers how to rid himself of the evils that beset him and of his great ignorance and confusion of mind, so as to live a more virtuous and better life; but they all are being thrown into confusion and are swept round and round in the same place and about practically the same objects, to wit, money and reputation and certain pleasures of body, while no one is able to rid himself of these and set his soul free (eleutherôsai tên hautou psuchên)’ (13.12-13, tr. J.W. Cohoon).
In 13.14 he announces Socrates’ protreptic speech, promising to reproduce it as well as he can remember it, apologizing ‘in case I were unable to recall accurately all the phrases, or even not all the thought, but should add or subtract anything’ (13.15). The reported ‘ancient discourse of a certain Socrates’ begins at 13.16and ends at 13.28. From 13.29 onwards he reports on the discourses that he had held when he was in Rome, which all aimed at reinforcing the import of the reported protreptic speech.
In 13.29 Dio says:
‘on reaching Rome itself, I did not venture to speak any word of my own ... and I said to myself ... if I, copying the words of another, use such derogatory words about things which are highly regarded at Rome here, and tell them that not one of these things is a good, if I speak of luxury and intemperance, and tell them that what they need is a thorough and sound education, perhaps they will not laugh at me.’
In 13.30 he continues:‘But if they do, I shall be able to say that those words were spoken by a man whom the Greeks one and all admired for his wisdom, and what is more, whom Apollo considered the wisest man in the world, while Archelaus, the king of Macedonia, who knew a great deal and had consorted with many wise men, tried to get him to Macedonia, offering him gifts and fees that he might have the privilege of hearing him say such things.’(6)
In 13.33 Dio says that if the Romans became enamoured with justice (dikaiosunês erasthentes), then having learned to despise gold and silver and ivory and rich food and perfume and erotic pleasures (aphrodisiôn) they would live happy lives. In 13.34 he says that he told the Romans that only in that case ‘will your city be great’ (Tote gar, ephên, estai humôn hê polis megalê.)(7) The rest of 13.34 is closely connected with 13.35, and so I quote the two together:
13.34-35: ‘For, said I, in proportion as courage, justice, and temperance increase among you, in that degree there will be less silver and gold and furniture of ivory and amber, less of crystal and citron-wood and ebony and women’s adornments and embroideries and dyes of many hues; in short, all the things which are now considered in your city precious and worth fighting for, you will need in smaller quantities, and when you have reached the summit of virtue, not at all. And the houses in which you live will be smaller and better, and you will not support so great a throng of idle and utterly useless slaves and – the most paradoxical thing of all – the more god-fearing and pious you become, the less frankincense and fragrant offerings and garlands there will be among you, and you will offer fewer sacrifices and at less expense, and the whole multitude that is now being supported in your city will be much smaller; while the entire city, like a ship that has been lightened, will ride higher and be much more buoyant and safer.’(Translation J.W. Cohoon).
What in Dio’s 13.35 can be seen as an echo of the closing section of the Clitopho? If we did not know that Antisthenes wrote three Protreptici, we might assume that Dio wrote his thirteenth Oration inspired by Antisthenes in Xenophon’s Symposium.
But perhaps 13.35 is a printing error and Slings had in view a different paragraph in Dio’s Oration. Could he have meant Dio’s 13.32? For near the end of the dialogue, at 410c Clitopho says that he goes to Thrasymachus and wherever else he can in search of wisdom that Socrates withholds from him, and Dio says at 13.32 that the Romans ought to employ a teacher of temperance, courage and justice who would heal the maladies of their souls, which might seem to imply that just as Clitopho does not find Socrates’ words satisfactory and therefore seeks other teachers, so does Dio find the protreptic ‘speech of a certain Socrates’ unsatisfactory, and this is why he urges the Romans to go and find proper teachers of virtue elsewhere. Yet, on closer inspection it becomes clear that at 13.32 Dio does not draw on the Clitopho; he advises the Romans
‘that if they wholeheartedly practiced temperance, manliness and justice (sôphrosunên de kai andreian kai dikaiosunên eanper ekmeletêsôsi), and took them into their souls (kai tais psuchais analabôsi), securing from somewhere teachers who taught these things (didaskalous pothen toutôn heurontes) and all the other things too, not caring whether the teachers were Greeks or Romans, or if there is among the Scythians or the Indians a man who teaches the things of which I have spoken – not, as I think, archery and horsemanship, but far better, if there were a physician who, knowing how to treat the infirmities of the body, is in that way competent to heal the maladies of the soul (hikanos ôn iasthai tas tês psuchês nosous)’ (13.32, tr. J.W. Cohoon).
It is Socrates on his last day to whom we must take recourse to find a telling parallel to Dio’s 13.32. For in the Phaedo Cebes confesses that there is a child inside us, who fears death, and appeals to Socrates for help. Socrates answers that by singing charms to him (epaidein autôi) they must charm the fear out (heôs an exepaisete). Cebes asks: ‘And where shall we find a charmer (epôidon) of such fears, Socrates, now that you are leaving us?’ Socrates answers:
‘Greece is a large country, Cebes, which has good men in it, I suppose; and there are many foreign races too. You must ransack all of them in search for such a charmer (epôidon), sparing neither money nor trouble, because there’s no object on which you could more opportunely spend your money. And you yourselves must search too, along with one another; you may not easily find anyone more capable of doing this than yourselves.’ (78a3-9, tr. D. Gallop)
What have the teachers of which Dio speaks in common with the charmers of which speaks Socrates? Socrates’ companions knew well that by ‘charms’ (tas d’epôidas tautas) Socrates meant philosophic discourses that generate temperance in the souls (ek de tôn toioutôn logôn en tais psuchais sôphrosunên engignesthai), as we can learn from Plato’s Charmides (157a4-6). Xenophon’s Socrates is equally instructive. In the Memorabilia III.xi.16-17 Socrates says that there are women who are dear to him (eisi de kai philai moi) who learn love-potions and charms from him (philtra te manthanousai par’ emou kai epôidas). Asked whether he really understands these things, Socrates answers:
‘Why do you think that Apollodorus here and Antisthenes never leave me, and why do Cebes and Simmias come to me from Thebes? Be assured that this would not happen without many love-potions (ouk aneu pollôn philtrôn) and charms (kai epôidôn).’
The teachers of which Dio speaks in his thirteenth Oration and the charmers of which Socrates spoke on his last day are one and the same.
At this point it may be asked, if Dio went to Plato’s Phaedo in search of Socratic sources for his thirteenth Oration, is not Slings right after all when he claims that the Oration has nothing to do with Antisthenes? To this I must answer that Antisthenes was one of those who were with Socrates in prison on his last day, as Plato reports in Phaedo 59b8. The passage in Phaedo 78a is of an eminently protreptic character, followed by Socrates’ lengthy discourse on the immortality of soul, in which he charms the fear of death out of the souls of his friends by turning their minds to following and examining his arguments, and thus cures their souls (hôs eu hêmas iasato ... anekalesato kai proutrepsen pros to parepesthai te kai suskopein ton logon, Phaedo 89a5-7). The little we have from Antisthenes allows us to surmise that in his Protreptici he drew on Socrates’ last day conversations. In Plato’s dialogue Phaedo says that Socrates on his last day appeared to him a happy man (eudaimôn gar moi hanêr ephaineto, Phaedo 58e3). Diogenes Laertius reports that when Antisthenes was asked what was the height of human bliss, he replied ‘To die happy’ (Erôtêtheis ti makariôtaton en anthrôpois, ephê, “to eutuchounta apothanein”. vi. 5), and that he insisted that those who want to be immortal must live piously and justly (eusebôs kai dikaiôs). Who else but Socrates did Antisthenes have in mind when he made these pronouncements? It is on Antisthenes, in my view, that Xenophon draws in his remarks on Socrates’ last day:
‘And he [Socrates] displayed the stalwart nature of his heart (epedeixato de tês psuchês tên rômên); for having once decided that to die was better for him than to live longer, he did not weaken in the presence of death – just as he had never set his face against any other thing, either, that was for his good (hôsper oude pros ta alla ta agatha prosantês ên) – but was cheerful not only in the expectation of death but in meeting it.’ (Socrates’ Defence, 33, tr. O.J. Todd)
Let me observe that there is an important passage in the Oration that could hardly have been said by anyone other than an Athenian in the first decade of the fourth century BC. For in the passage in which Socrates rejects the argument of politicians and orators that traditional education enabled the Athenians to gain their great victories against the Persians, he says:
‘when the Persians clashed with the Athenians, at one time the Athenians prevailed and at another time the Persians, as at a later time, when they were fighting the Athenians with the aid of the Lacedaemonians, they even tore down the walls of the city.’ (13.25).
The speaker, who in this manner diminishes the role of Sparta in the defeat of Athens at the end of the Peloponnesian Wars, is an Athenian speaking at the time when the Athenians had regained their independence and some of their former strength; it is not Dio rewriting history. In the lines that follow we find the anachronism which provides the reason for the dating of Antisthenes’ Protrepticus after 394 BC, that is some six years after Socrates’ death. Dio’s Socrates says:
‘Yet would you be able to assert to me that at that time [ie the time of their defeat] the Athenians had become less cultivated and more illiterate? Afterwards, again, in the time of Conon, when they won the naval engagement off Cnidos [fought in 394 BC, five years after the death of Socrates], were they more skilful at wrestling and singing odes?’ (13.26).
But if Dio draws on Antisthenes, how could it have happened that Antisthenes committed such a glaring anachronism? The answer is that by the time Antisthenes wrote his Protrepticus, Socrates’ followers, Plato, Aeschines, Phaedo, and Antisthenes, had in their works successfully resuscitated Socrates and made him into a powerful ally in their educational endeavours; this is what Antisthenes emphasized by virtue of the anachronism. When Antisthenes wrote his Protreptici, he spoke of Socrates as standing by his side. This explains the corresponding anachronism in Polycrates’ Accusation of Socrates:
‘Favorinus [a disciple of Dio] in the first book of his Memorabilia declares that the speech of Polycrates against Socrates is not authentic; for he mentions the rebuilding of the walls by Conon, which did not take place till six years after the death of Socrates.’ (Diog. Laert. ii.39).
Polycrates in his Accusation of Socrates attacked the ‘living’ Socrates of Socrates’ followers.
Let me end the discussion on the relationship between Plato’s Clitopho and Dio’s thirteenth Oration by noting that concerning the implicit rejection of the passages critical of Socrates in the Clitopho, Xenophon is in full accord with Dio’s Oration, that is with Antisthenes:
‘If any hold the opinion expressed in some written and spoken criticisms of Socrates that are based on inference (hôs enioi graphousi te kai legousi peri autou tekmairomenoi), and think, that though he was consummate in exhorting men to virtue, he was an incompetent guide to it, let them consider not only the searching cross-examination with which he chastised those who thought themselves omniscient, but his daily talks with his familiar friends, and then judge whether he was capable of improving his companions.’(Xen. Mem. I.iv.1, tr. E.C. Marchant).
Slings is right when he says that it is impossible to cast doubt on the relationship between Xenophon’s passage and the Clitopho on account of Xenophon’s enioi, that is of his speaking of the critics in the plural, for ‘it is normal in polemic of this time not to name one’s opponent but to call him “some people” (Slings p. 81)’. But since Xenophon’s reference to the Clitopho could be viewed as an argument in favour of Plato’s authorship of the dialogue, and since Slings viewed the dialogue as inauthentic when he originally wrote these lines, he ends his discussion of Xenophon’s passage as follows:
‘In the meantime the point may be raised here that if indeed Xenophon was inspired by the Clitophon, he can hardly have regarded that dialogue as Platonic. The critics of Socrates state their opinion on the basis of an inference (tekmairomenoi), not through first hand knowledge. This is a highly curious statement if it concerns the major Socratic of the day, who had (to all appearances) been a follower of Socrates rather longer than Xenophon himself.’ (Slings p. 82).
But Slings is wrong when he says that the word tekmairomenoi, ‘on the basis of an inference’, signifies ‘not through first hand knowledge’, as can be seen by observing Xenophon’s use of the word tekmairesthai in his Memorabilia and Cyropaedia, and of the closely related words suntekmairomenê and tekmêrion in his Symposium.
In Xenophon’s Symposium a girl dances with hoops that she throws into the air ‘observing (suntekmairomenê) the proper height so as to catch them in a regular rhythm’ (ii.8). Socrates praises dance as an excellent means of exercising the whole body. Then Philip, a jester, mimes the dancers in a comic way, and when he ends his performance, exhausted, he says: ‘Here is a proof (tekmêrion), gentlemen, that my style of dancing, also, gives excellent exercise; it has certainly given me a thirst’ (ii.22, tr. O.J. Todd).
In the Cyropaedia, Chrysanthas wants to learn to ride and fight on horses: ‘I shall obtain the testimony of four eyes (tettarsi men ophthalmois tekmaroumai) and I shall perceive (aisthêsomai) with four ears’ (IV.iii.21). When he thus uses the word tekmairesthai, he speaks of the immediate perceptual testimony of his own and his horse’s eyes.
In the Memorabilia Xenophon talks of Socrates’ ‘love-affairs’: ‘He would often say he was “in love”; but clearly his heart was set not on those who were fair to outward view, but on those whose souls excelled in goodness (alla tôn tas psuchas pros aretên eu pephukotôn ephiemenos). These excellent beings he recognized (etekmaireto) by their quickness to learn whatever subject they studied ...’ (IV.i.2, tr. E.C. Marchant). Here Xenophon’s use of the word etekmaireto in describing Socrates’ ‘recognition’ (as Marchant renders the word in the given passage) of the souls well suited for philosophy closely corresponds to the way in which he uses the word in I.iv.1 where he repudiates the Clitophonian criticism of Socrates, and where Marchant translated tekmairomenoi as ‘on the basis of an inference’. This is precisely what Clitopho does in Plato’s dialogue: he infers that Socrates is either unwilling or unable to transcend protreptic exhortations from the fact that Socrates does not go beyond his protreptic discourse.
Having discarded von Arnim’s theory about the provenance of the Clitopho, Slings develops his own theory, according to which the Clitopho is a pastiche of various protreptic motifs from various protreptic texts incoherently mixed together. In the chapter devoted to ‘‘The structure of the protreptic speech’ in the Clitopho he says that Socrates’ protreptic speech
‘shows a remarkable lack of congruence ... there is hardly any relation between the direct speech and the reported ... the words kai hopotan ... espoudakenai (407e5-8), though not even separated from the following by sentence end, constitute an entirely independent whole, which has nothing to do with the last part any more than with the first part of the speech ... Our author must have had rather strong reason for lumping together three unrelated exhortations into one speech. This reason I take to be his wish to give the speech a structure which itself reflects a theme not unknown in protreptic literature: the hierarchic scale of values chrêmata – sôma – psuchê [wealth – body – soul].’ (Slings pp.98-100)
Slings’ structural analysis is carried over from the first version of the book, when he viewed the dialogue as inauthentic. It is because of his original preconceived view of the dialogue as inauthentic that he interprets it as a patchwork of three unrelated protreptic themes, failing to see that in the Clitopho, as in the Apology, and in all the other dialogues of Plato, wealth, body, and soul are viewed as one theme, where care of wealth and for the body is viewed and treated as part of and subservient to the care of the soul. Thorough discussion of Slings’ view of the dialogue requires close attention to the manner in which Socrates’ protreptic speech is constructed. The speech has two main parts: the first part is reported in Socrates’ direct speech, the second in indirect speech. Both these parts are further divided into two parts. We thus obtain parts 1a, 1b and 2a, 2b, which are all related to one another, so that the complex net of their interrelations constitutes a whole centred in the concern for and the care of the soul.
In 1a, which begins at 407b1 (Poi pheresthe ônthrôpoi) and ends at 407d2 (eschata drôsin kai paschousin), Socrates criticizes the Athenians for their taking care for the acquisition of wealth while not caring about the proper education for their sons, and for their having failed to acquire it for themselves, in consequence of which they are unable to use wealth in a just way.He then points out that the received education is unhelpful, which has disastrous consequences for personal and political relations within the cities, and for relations in among the cities. In 1b, which begins at 407d2 (humeis de phate) and ends at 407e2 (sumpasas tas poleis), he rejects the objection that it is voluntary wrongdoing and not the lack of proper education that is to be blamed for the prevailing injustice; he argues that all injustice and all evil-doing is involuntary.
In 2a, which consists of the words kai hopotan ... espoudakenai (407e5-8), Clitopho reports with approval that Socrates goes on to criticize those who train their body but do not care for their soul. In 2b he then praises him for promulgating the principle that one ought to leave alone what one does not know how to use; if a man does not know how to use his soul, it would be better for him that his soul were inactive, that is that he ceased to live, or if he had to stay alive, it would be best for him to become a slave of someone who had acquired the knowledge of steering human beings (407e8-408b5). Socrates’ criticism of his fellow-Athenians at 1a is grounded in the moral principle announced by him at 1b, and his criticism of them at 2a leads to the moral maxim announced at 2b.
This symmetry is not the only mark of congruence in the protreptic part of the Clitopho, for the principle announced at 1b provides the basis for both the criticism at 2a and at 1a: the ignorance of which he speaks at 1b as the cause of wrong-doing is the cause of preferential treatment of the body and the neglect of the soul at 2a, just as it is the cause of using property unjustly at 1a. Furthermore, principles 1b and 2b are intimately interconnected, for the insight that we do wrong unwillingly, through ignorance, proclaimed in 1b, leads to the maxim that we ought to leave alone what we do not know how to use, announced at 2b; if we properly reflect on the 2b maxim, it prompts us to do our utmost to overcome our ignorance discussed at 1b.
When Clitopho switches from reporting Socrates’ protreptic oration in direct speech to reporting it in indirect speech, he marks 2a as the part that ‘comes next’ (to ephexês toutôi, 407e5), and reports Socrates’ saying that those criticized at 2a ‘are doing something else of the same kind’ (heteron ti prattein toiouton, 407e6-7) as those criticized at 1a. Slings views these two indices as artificial means of ‘lumping together unrelated exhortations into one speech’ (Slings p. 100). He argues that Socrates could not vituperate the same people at the same time for being interested only in wealth, and for attaching too much importance to the care of their bodies, and that therefore the former, which is in oratio recta, and the latter, which is in oratio obliqua, are two different speeches on unrelated protreptic themes. But people over-interested in the acquisition of wealth and those over-interested in their bodies were not necessarily two different sorts of people, and even those who were different in this respect did not form different audiences. And most importantly, they all had one important thing in common, as Socrates explicitly pointed out when he said that the second group ‘committed another mistake of the same kind’ (heteron ti prattein toiouton, 407e6-7): ‘neglecting that which ought to govern’ (tou men arxontos amelein), that is the soul, ‘yet preoccupying themselves excessively with that which ought to be governed’ ‘peri de to arxomenon espoudakenai, 407e7-8), that is both the body and wealth.
When Socrates comes to criticizing those who attached too much importance to their bodies at the expense of their souls, he emphatically corroborates the previous criticism in which he vituperated men for concentrating their efforts on amassing wealth without educating their sons and themselves so as to be able to use wealth in accordance with justice. The fault is in both cases caused by the lack of knowledge concerning the proper use of that which is most important in us, that is our soul. The last part of the protreptic speech, in which Clitopho reports Socrates’ principle that one ought not to use that which one does not know how to use, reflects on the speech as a whole and brings it into unity. When Socrates at 1bproclaims that nobody inflicts evil on themselves willingly, this maxim reflects both on those at 1a, who bring evil on themselves by pursuing wealth without acquiring wisdom of how to use it justly, and on those at 2a, who err by training their bodies without taking proper care for their souls. The speech is carefully constructed as a coherent whole.
In the effort to demonstrate the lack of coherence concerning the protreptic speech in the Clitopho, Slings compares its introductory part with the corresponding passage in the Apology, maintaining that theformer is characterized by a ‘combination of unrelated form and content’, unlike the latter. He says that the passage in the Clitopho has the form ‘you care about the pseudo-Values x, y, not about the true Values p, q’, and that in the Apology this form is matched with the corresponding content: ‘Are you not ashamed of taking care that you acquire the greatest wealth (chrêmatôn men ouk aischunêi epimeloumenos hopôs soi estai hôs pleista) ... while taking no care about wisdom’ (phronêseôs de ... ouk epimelêi oude phrontizeis, Ap. 29d8-e3). He says that in the Apology the pseudo-Value of wealth is thus opposed to the true Value of wisdom, phronêsis, whereas in the Clitopho, although the corresponding passage has the same form, and in part very similar wording, the pseudo-Value of wealth is not opposed to ‘a true value (such as phronêsis), but a derived one (“the care for one’s sons”)’ (Slings p. 103-105). But this is not right, for in the Clitopho the pseudo-Value of wealth is primarily opposed to the true Value of knowledge of how to use wealth in a just way (hopôs epistêsontai chrêsthai dikaiôs toutois, 407b4), in which both the sons (407b3) and the parents 407b8) are lacking, and not to ‘the derived Value of the care for one’s sons’. The knowledge of using wealth in the Clitopho, identified there with justice (407b4-5), corresponds to phronêsis in the given passage in the Apology. The difference between the two passages, which consists in the omission of the care for the education of one’s sons in the Apology, is occasioned by the fact that Socrates’ protreptic speech is reproduced in the Apology in an abbreviated form.
In a full-blown protreptic speech, as it stands in the Clitopho, Socrates had very good reasons for introducing the theme of lacking ‘knowledge of how to use wealth’ by pointing to the misuse of wealth by the sons, for the Athenians could themselves see that their sons did not know how to use the wealth they bequeathed or were about to bequeath to them, so as to do justice to them as parents, and they were therefore ready to agree that their children and they themselves lacked the wisdom; on this basis they were prepared to listen to Socrates' criticism of traditional education. This is why Socrates mentions the lack of proper care of the Athenians for themselves (oude g’ eti proteron humas autous houtôs etherapeusate, 407b7-8) only after making this lack evident concerning their sons. Successful in the pursuit of their business interests, the Athenians would otherwise have shrugged off any accusation of their lack of wisdom as laughable, especially if it came from the mouth of someone who appeared to be incapable of acquiring wealth. As soon as we realize this, the relation of the last part of Socrates’ protreptic speech to the first part becomes even clearer. For, as has been seen, the last part deals with the principle that ‘it is better to refrain from using that which one does not know how to use’ (hotôi tis mê epistatai chrêsthai, kreitton ean tên toutou chrêsin, 407e8-9), and in the first part of his protreptic speech Socrates criticises the Athenians for not acquiring knowledge of how to use (hopôs epistêsontai chrêsthai) the wealth that they were amassing. The relationship between the Clitopho and the Apology thus becomes the reverse of that proposed by Slings. The author of the Clitopho does not have in mind ‘the Apology itself’ (Slings p.104), but Socrates in the Apology refers to his protreptic speeches, which Plato faithfully represented in the Clitopho. It was because in his protreptic speeches Socrates many times spelled out what he meant by the lack of knowledge of how to use wealth, that in his Defence he could speak simply about the lack of wisdom, phronêsis, on the part of the Athenians.
Paradoxically, after his having insisted that wealth, body, and soul were subjects of unrelated protreptic themes, Slings points out that the hierarchic scale of values chrêmata - sôma - psuchê [wealth - body - soul] adopted in the Clitopho is genuinely Platonic, coming to the fore in the proem to the laws in Laws 5:
‘There is in Plato one passage which also is constructed so as to reflect this trichotomy. I refer to the first part of the general proem to the laws concerning mankind in Laws 5. This passage, the protreptic character of which has been stressed by several scholars [Wilamowitz, Gaiser, and Saunders], is announced at the end of Book 4 as follows: ta peri tas autôn psuchas kai ta sômata kai tas ousias (724a7-8) [‘all that relates to their souls and bodies and properties’]. The proem itself starts off with reflections on the soul (726a1-728c8), continues with the body (728c9-e5) and wealth (728e5-729b2). The last passage ends with the value of riches for children (paisin de aidô chrê pollên, ou chruson kataleipein) [‘parents ought to bequeath to their children sense of respect, not gold’] and Plato continues with other precepts on the behaviour towards the young, friends and relations, the polis [‘city’], the strangers, and finally a long sermon on personal behaviour (730b1-734e2). Though the structure of the general proem is more complex than that of the protreptic speech in the Clitophon, it is clear that Plato started this preamble with a pattern identical to that of our protreptic speech (cf. especially the announcing words), though in reverse order, and appended the rest of what he had to say after he had mentioned the young. The similarity in pattern could be a coincidence but for the words already quoted: paisin de aidô chrê pollên, ou chruson kataleipein (729b1-2). These words stand at the very end of the trichotomic pattern in the general proem [in Laws 5] whereas nearly the same thought is found at the beginning of Socrates’ protreptic speech [in the Clitopho].’ (Slings p. 100-101).
In the ‘Conclusions’ to the chapter on ‘The structure of the protreptic speech’ Slings returns to the passage in the Laws:
‘It is evident that the trichotomy of Socrates’ speech is related to the general preamble of Laws 5, and that one of them must depend on the other, but there is no good reason why the Clitophon could not have been the source here.’ (Slings p. 126).
And in the accompanying note he adds:
‘The musical metaphor at Laws 729a4-b1, which immediately precedes the words paisin ... kataleipein [to bequeath ... to their children], is probably better explained as a reminiscence of Clitopho 407c6-7 than the other way round’ (Slings n. 234 on p. 126).
These observations concerning the structural and the substantive similarities between the Clitopho and the Laws in themselves ought to have prompted Slings to revise his insistence on the incongruity of the protreptic speech in the Clitopho. Instead, engrossed in his view of the Clitopho as an inauthentic piece, he supplemented his observations on the doctrinal and structural proximity between ‘our author’s’ Clitopho and Plato’s Laws with the following ‘discovery’:
‘Our author used the trichotomy as a formal pattern for Socrates’ speech, to be filled in with various protreptic motifs. Thus, under the head of chrêmata [wealth] a number of thoughts on wealth, justice, education are brought together into a rather coherent argument – all of these thoughts occur elsewhere in protreptic literature ... I think we have discovered here an important feature of our author’s method of parody: he uses patterns taken over from other Socratic literature in order to furnish them with protreptic motifs unrelated to these patterns.’ (Slings p. 102).
Slings’ observations on the similarities between the Clitopho and Laws 5 are far from accurate or exhaustive.
Slings is wrong when he says that the proem begins with the announcement at the end of Book 4 with the words ta peri tas autôn psuchas kai ta sômata kai tas ousias ([‘all that relates to the souls and bodies and properties of the citizens’], 724a7-8), the pattern of which ‘is identical to that of our protreptic speech, though in reverse order’. In fact, the protreptic part of the Laws reminiscent of the Clitopho begins in an earlier passage in Book 4 than Slings suggests, that is at 717b9-c6 instead of 724a7-8, with a passage in which the citizens are exhorted to view all their possessions as belonging to their parents (nomizein de, ha kektêtai kai echei, panta einai tôn gennêsantôn, 417b9-c1). They are to minister their parents as best as they can firstly with their wealth, secondly with their body, and thirdly with their souls (archomenon apo tês ousias, deutera ta tou sômatos, trita ta tês psuchês, 717c2-3). In this passage the hierarchy of values wealth-body-soul is reproduced in the same order as in the Clitopho, and as in the Clitopho, the protreptic exhortations are grounded in observations concerning the relationship between children and parents.
There are important reminiscences of the Clitopho in the protreptic proem in the Laws to which Slings appears to be oblivious, and which on their own refute his view that the protreptic speech in the Clitopho consists of patterns taken over from other Socratic literature and furnished with protreptic motifs unrelated to these patterns. In the Clitopho the passage concerning the just use of wealth ends with Socrates’ emphasizing the principle that nobody does wrong willingly, for nobody wants to inflict evil on oneself: all those who do wrong do so because of their lack of knowledge. This fundamental Socratic principle is reiterated in the protreptic proem in the Laws: ‘we must know in the first place that no unjust men are unjust of their own free will’ (gignôskein chrê prôton men hoti pas ho adikos ouch hekôn adikos, 731c2-3). In the Clitopho this principle reflects back on the evil of amassing wealth without knowledge of how to use it in a just way, and it points forward to the evil of training the body without proper care for the soul, which ought to govern both our material wealth and our body, and thus to the principle that what one does not know how to use one ought to refrain from using, and that if one does not know how to use one’s soul one ought to hand over the rudder of his thinking (ta pêdalia tês dianoias, 408b2) to a man who knows how to steer human souls. In the Laws we encounter a corresponding sequence of protreptic deliberations. The principle that no unjust men are unjust of their own free will is corroborated by the argument that no man of his own free will would choose to possess the greatest of evils in the most precious part of himself (hêkista en tois tôn heautou timiôtatois, c4-5): ‘In the soul, then, which is the most precious part of him, no one, if he could help, would admit, or allow to continue the greatest of evils. The unrighteous and vicious are always to be pitied.’ (731c3-8). Plato then points his finger to the cause of ignorance in which all acts of injustice are rooted, which is self-love (dia tên sphodra heautou philian, 731e4), and says that a man who wants to be great must love neither himself nor his possessions, he must love justice (oute gar heauton oute ta heautou chrê ton te megan andra esomenon stergein, alla ta dikaia, 732a2-3), and then he reflects on our ignorance, which, being rooted in self-love and parading itself as know-all, is the cause of our disregarding the principle according to which one ought not to do what one does not know how to do (hothen ouk eidotes hôs epos eipein ouden, oiometha ta panta eidenai, ouk epitrepontes de allois ha mê epistametha prattein, anankazometha hamartanein autoi prattontes, 732a6-b2). This is why one should not be ashamed of always following a better man (ton d’ heautou beltiô diôkein aei, 732b3).
Slings says that the most un-Platonic feature of Socrates’ protreptic speech in the Clitopho ‘is his addressing the speech to a crowd’ (p. 45). The proem in the Laws can dispel the doubts about the authenticity of the Clitopho on this account, for it is addressed to the citizens of the city, whom Plato characterizes as ‘the crowd’ (ochlos, 734b6): ‘ “Men”, we will say to them’ (“Andres”, toinun phômen pros autous, 715e7). On the dating that I propose, Plato wrote the Clitopho when in the restored democracy his political ambitions were rekindled (Seventh Letter 325a5-c5), and this is why it was important to discuss Socrates’ protreptic discourses addressed to the crowd. What was needed then was the appropriate follow up to Socrates’ protreptic exhortations (to meta tauta, Clitopho 408c4, ti tounteuthen, Clitopho 408e1-2), that is clear instructions of how to begin to learn justice (pôs archesthai dein phamen dikaiosunês peri mathêseôs, Clitopho 408e2-3), and to give clear indications concerning the achievements that a man who learnt justice can bring about (ho dunatai poiein hêmin ergon ho dikaios, 409b8-c1). This is what Socrates in the end did endeavour to accomplish in the philosophic discourse on his last day, at least partially, instructing his followers to pursue their lives ‘along the tracks marked by our present and earlier talks’ (hôsper kat’ ichnê kata ta nun te eirêmena kai ta en tôi emprosthen chronôi zên, Phaedo 115b9-10). This ‘next step’ that Socrates ventured to make on his last day then enabled Plato to employ Socrates as a constructive philosopher in the Republic. And inasmuch as the Clitopho culminated a line of the dialogues that preceded it, that is the Phaedrus, Charmides, Hippias Major, Lysis, Hippias Minor, in which Plato challenged Socrates’ ignorance, pushing him towards his overcoming it on his last day, this entitled Plato to turn Socrates into a listener and learner in the Sophist and Politicus, dramatically staged after the indictment of Socrates. It is this historical role of the Clitopho that induces Plato to dwell on it so extensively in the protreptic proem in the Laws with reminiscences of the dialogue, then followed by positive laws, which instruct the citizens what they should and what they should not do.
Note that the passage in the Laws in which Plato warns against amassing wealth for the sake of children (mê dê tis philochrêmateitô paidôn g’ heneka, 729a2-3) and takes recourse to the metaphor of musical harmony, maintaining that property that does not attract flatterers, yet provides for the necessities of life, is most harmonious and best (akolakeutos ousia, tôn d’ anankaiôn mê endeês, hautê pasôn mousikôtatê kai aristê, 729a5-6), is the most reminiscent of the Clitopho. It is no coincidence that this passage is followed by Plato’s assertion that ‘a man who wants to be truly blessed and happy (ho genêsesthai mellôn makarios te kai eudaimôn) would partake of the truth straight at the beginning (alêtheia ... hês ... ex archês euthus metochos eiê), so that he might live a prolonged life in truth’ (hina hôs pleiston chronon alêthês ôn diabioi), for this man can be trusted’ (pistos gar, 730c1-4). In the Laws, towards the end of his life (hêmeis d’ en dusmais tou biou, 770a6), Plato ‘joins the beginning to the end’ (tên archên nun teleutêi prosapsas, 768e5), combining the reminiscences on his early Clitopho with the reflections on his current work on the Laws, which he rightly viewed as his final work. Plato’s reflections in the Laws on the Clitopho are deeper and more extensive than on any other dialogue of his – with the exception of the Phaedrus, his proper beginning – thus underlining the significance of his shortest dialogue when casting his eye on all his dialogues: ‘I am taking great pleasure in reviewing all my works assembled together’ (logous oikeious hoion hathroous epiblepsanti mala hêsthênai, Laws 811d1-2).(8)
In accordance with his view of the Clitopho as a parody of protreptic literature Slings says concerning the closing part of Socrates’ protreptic speech:
‘The general principle of this part of Socrates’ exhortation, ‘hotôi tis mê epistatai chrêsthai, kreitton ean tên toutou chrêsin [‘what one does not know how to use would be better left alone’], is significantly frequent in protreptic literature ... In these texts, the principle is found stated in two variant forms, which are related but not identical: (a) what one cannot handle should be left to others; (b) what one cannot handle in the right way should be left alone or it will prove evil. Our author’s procedure is interesting in that he applies both versions (in the order (b)-(a)) to the human soul, thereby making Socrates exhort his listeners to death and slavery.’ (Slings p.113-114).
Slings concludes that the words kai teleutai dê kalôs ho logos houtos soi [‘and so this argument brings you to a fine conclusion’], with which the last part of Socrates’ protreptic speech is introduced in the Clitopho ‘are indeed meant to ridicule the final passage of some protreptic work’ (Slings p.117), such as Alcibiades I, which ‘ends with an exhortation to slavery’ (Slings p.118).(9)
In these lines Slings grotesquely misinterprets both the Clitopho and the Alcibiades I. To point out his misrepresentations of these dialogues, I shall begin by examining Slings’ claim that Alcibiades I ‘ends with an exhortation to slavery’. Towards the end of Alcibiades I Socrates does indeed argue that before a man acquires virtue (prin de ge aretên echein), it is better for him to be governed by those who are better than him (to archesthai hupo tou beltionos), rather than to rule others (ê to archein, 135b7-8), and that for a bad man slavery is appropriate, for it is better for him (prepei ara tôi kakôi douleuein, ameinon gar, c2) because of his being bad. But even if the dialogue ended at this point, Slings’ assertion that it ‘ends with an exhortation to slavery’ would be demonstrably wrong, for in reference to the quoted text it amounts to claiming that the dialogue ends with an exhortation to being bad. But the dialogue does not end at 135c2; Socrates goes on to say that badness is becoming to a slave (douloprepes ar’ hê kakia, c4), whereas excellence is becoming to free men (eleutheroprepes de hê aretê, c6). When Alcibiades agrees with all this, Socrates asks him whether slavishness is not a state that one ought to escape from (oukoun pheugein chrê, ô hetaire, tên douloprepeian, c8), with which Alcibiades emphatically agrees (malista ge, ô Sôkrates, c9). Socrates in the dialogue exhorts Alcibiades to escape from the slavish state in which he finds himself, he does not exhort him to slavery.
Slings’ claim that the author of the Clitopho is ‘making Socrates exhort his listeners to death and slavery’ is equally baffling, for Clitopho says to Socrates:
‘And so this argument brings you to a fine conclusion: for a man who doesn’t know how to use his soul, to leave his soul idle and not to live is better than to live according to his own lights; and if he must live at all costs, he is better off spending his life as a slave rather than as a free man, and handing over the rudder of his thinking to somebody else, who has learned the art of steering human beings – this art which you often call politics, Socrates, and which you claim is precisely the same as judication and justice.’ (408a4-b5; tr. Slings).
If Socrates in this passage were exhorting his listeners to death and slavery, as Slings maintains, then by the same token he would be exhorting them to ignorance concerning the use of their souls, of which the opposite is clearly the case. Since this point is of crucial importance for the proper understanding of the dialogue, Clitopho immediately clarifies it:
‘These speeches and others of the kind, so numerous and so beautifully formulated, that goodness can be taught and that of all things one should care most for oneself, I don’t think I’ve ever said a word against them, nor will I in the future, I suppose. I regard them as very suitable for exhorting people and very useful – they simply wake us up from our sleep.’(408b5-c4; tr. Slings).
The citizens of Athens considered freedom as their most important and highly esteemed prerogative. This is why Socrates’ listeners felt as if ‘woken up from their sleep’ when they were told by Socrates that in their state of ignorance they were in a state of slavishness. And those who realized that it was so became determined, like Clitopho, to escape from that state by acquiring aretê and thus becoming free. Apart from the elucidation provided by Plato’s Alcibiades, as seen above, this aspect of Socrates' protreptic discourse can be further exemplified with the help of Xenophon’s Memorabilia, in which Socrates asks young Euthydemus whether he is aware that those people are called slavish (andrapodôdeis) who are ignorant of the beautiful, good, and just (tôn ta kala kai agatha kai dikaia mê eidotôn, IV.ii.22). When Euthydemus agrees, Socrates says ‘Then we must do everything we can to escape being slaves’ (Oukoun dei panti tropôi diateinamenous pheugein, hopôs mê andrapoda ômen, IV.ii.23). In the end the aristocratic youth ‘became convinced that he was indeed a slave’ (nomisas tôi onti andrapodon einai, IV.ii.39), and from then on became an ardent follower of Socrates, for he realized that otherwise he would never be a man of note (ouk an allôs anêr axiologos genesthai, IV.ii.40).
Slings maintains that the general principle hotôi tis mê epistatai chrêsthai, kreitton ean tên toutou chrêsin [‘what one does not know how to use would be better left alone’] is already found in Anonymus Iamblichi3.1 (10) in the form ‘what one cannot handle in the right way should be left alone or it will prove evil’ (Slings p. 113 and n. 214 on p. 113). But what we find in the given paragraph of Anonymus Iamblichi is very different. The anonymous author says:
‘When a person achieves and preserves to the end an object of his yearning (hotan tis orechtheis tinos toutôn katergasamenos echêi auto eis telos), be it oratorical skills (euglôssian), wisdom (sophian), or strength (ischun), this ought to be used for good and lawful purposes (toutôi eis agatha kai nomima katachrêsthai dei); but if someone uses the acquired good for unjust and unlawful purposes (ei de eis adika te kai anoma chrêsetai tis tôi huparchonti agathôi), this is the worst thing (pantôn kakiston einai to toiouton), and it is better if it is absent rather than present (kai apeinai kreisson auto ê pareinai).’
The anonymous author does not say that those who acquire oratorical skills, wisdom, or strength and use them for unjust and unlawful purposes do not know how to use them, and he does not exhort them to leave those skills alone ‘or it will prove evil’. He talks of acquiring such skills and using them for evil purposes, and says that when this happens, it is the greatest evil and ought to be eliminated. In the eyes of the anonymous author those who acquire such skills and use them for evil purposes know only too well how to use them. How can such evil be got rid of? The author presumably thinks of ostracism, imprisonment, or death penalty, as possible forms of removing this kind of evil from the society. Far from corroborating Sling’s view that ‘this part of our dialogue’, that is its introductory part, is ‘a cento’, i.e. a compilation of protreptic texts (Slings p. 124), the Anonymus Iamblichi helps us to appreciate the originality of Socrates’ views in the Clitopho.
Slings observes that the last part of the protreptic speech in the Clitopho and the last part of the first book of the Republic have certain features in common. From this he infers that the plan of this part of Socrates’ speech is borrowed from the first book of the Republic. The common features are as follows: In the Clitopho the principle that one ought to leave alone what one cannot handle in the right way is applied first to the body – using the eyes (ophthalmois chrêsthai) ... the ears (ôsin) ... the whole body (sumpanti tôi sômati, 407e10-11) – then to the sphere of tools and possessions (lurai chrêsthai ... allôi tôn organôn oude ktêmatôn oudeni, 408a2-4), before it focuses on the soul (408a5-b5). The same order occurs in the discussion of ergon and aretê at the end of Republic i (352d8-353e11). In the discussion of ergon: ‘seeing with eyes’ (ophthalmois, 352e5) is followed by ‘hearing with ears’ (ôsin, e7) and ‘cutting with a sickle’ (drepanôi, 353a4). After ergon and aretê have been connected (353a9-b3), they are discussed in reference to the ‘eyes’ (ophthalmôn, b4-7), ‘ears’ (ôtôn, b8-11), and ‘all the other things’ (pantôn peri tôn allôn, d1-2). The relation of ergon and kakia is examined concerning the ‘eyes’ (ommata, b14-c8), ‘ears’ (ôta, c9-11), and ‘all the other things’ (talla panta, d1-2): ‘From 353d3 onwards the results are applied to the human soul.’ (Slings p. 114).
Slings argues that the Clitopho comes after the Republic because of the way in which lyre is mentioned in these two dialogues. He maintains that in Republic i ‘we find drepanon associated with aspis and lura as examples of tools in an earlier attempt to define justice (333d3-6)’ (Slings p. 114), whereas ‘the lyre is clearly a corpus alienum [ie it is alien within the given context] in the Clitophon’ (Slings p. 115):
‘The way in which the general principle hotôi tis mê epistatai chrêsthai, kreitton ean tên toutou chrêsin [’what one does not know of how to use, it is better not to use it’] is applied to the field of technê (408a1-4) is peculiarly incongruous. One expects a statement to the effect that a man who cannot handle his lyre should not handle it, or alternatively, should leave it to others. When instead of this Socrates is reported to say that a man who cannot handle his own lyre will clearly be unable to handle his neighbour’s, and vice versa, his words are not to the point. Gaiser’s explanation ‘von der politischen Abzweckung des Logos her ... zu verstehen’ [‘To be understood from the political objective of the discourse’] ([Gaiser], Protreptic, 143 n. 156) is more a palliative than a cure.’ (Slings p. 115).
And yet, Gaiser is quite right. For the political objective of the dialogue comes unmistakeably to the fore at the end of the protreptic discourse, where Clitopho introduces the concept of ‘the art of steering human beings’ (tên tôn anthrôpôn kubernêtikên, 408b3), and adds ‘which you often call politics (politikên), Socrates, and which you claim is precisely the same as judication (dikastikên) and justice (dikaiosunên, 408b3-5)’. The passage in which this annunciation of the political character of Socrates’ views on virtue is anticipated in the condensed rendition of Socrates’ protreptic discourse in oratio obliqua is the passage concerning technê. The lines that precede the passage on technê, which refer to the use of one’s eyes and ears and one’s whole body offer no opportunity for political reflection: ‘if someone doesn’t know how to use his eyes or ears or his whole body, for such a person not to hear or see or to make any other use of his body is better than to use it no matter how’ (407e9-12, tr. Slings). It is in the sphere of technê that Socrates can introduce the notion of using and handling possessions of others, the political dimension of which would be clear to any citizen of the Athenian polis, and which picked up the political thread of thought developed in the introductory part of the protreptic discourse in oratio recta. There the unjust use of possessions was discussed at length as amousia (407c6), that is ‘lack of art’, and in that context the lyre was referred to (407c7) as an instrument the use of which exemplified the inadequacy of the education that the Athenians were receiving. Thus, far from being ‘a corpus alienum in the Clitophon’, the lyre is reintroduced at 408a2 as an example that strengthens the links that bind the part of Socrates’ protreptic reproduced by Clitopho in direct speech, with the part reproduced by him in indirect speech. From the use of lura in the Clitopho and in Republic i, on its own, no inference can be made as to the chronological sequence of their composition, but when the chronological priority of the Clitopho is established on the grounds forwarded by me in Chapter 9, the remarkable similarity of features between the Clitopho and the Republic i, discovered by Kesters (cf Slings p. 114), corroborates the conclusion to which I arrived in Chapter 9, namely that when Plato wrote the latter he had the former in front of his mind.