Notes to Interlude: The Clitopho Of Slings
1. Plato: Clitophon, edited with Introduction Translation and Commentary by S.R. Slings, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1999, p. 3.
2. On Slings’ terminology, the protreptic rejected by Clitopho in the first part of the dialogue is the ‘explicit protreptic’ of non-Platonic Socratic literature, the protreptic praised by him at the end of the dialogue is the ‘implicit protreptic’ of Plato (Slings, p.61). Earlier, Slings gives a useful definition of protreptic literature, in which he encompasses both his ‘explicit’ and ‘implicit’ protreptic, and which thus remains free from the distortions caused by Slings’ interpretation of the Clitopho as a parody on and a rejection of the ‘explicit protreptic’:
‘A text may be called protreptic if its design is to cause a change in the behaviour of those for whom it is destined, or if within the text one character endeavours to cause such a change in another character or characters. Thus, Isocrates’ Philippus is an appeal to that king to benefit the Greeks by uniting them and leading them against the Persians; we are entitled to call it a protreptic text because of Isocrates’ announcement that he is going to send Philip logon ... ouk epideixin poiêsomenon oud’ enkômiasomenon ... alla peirasomenon se protrepein (5.17) [‘a discourse ... whose aim is not to make a display or to extol ... but to urge you to a course of action’]. Similarly, Socrates’ two conversations with Clinias reported in Plato’s Euthydemus may be called protreptic: their aim is to convince Clinias of the necessity of caring for wisdom and virtue (278d3-5) and thereby to impel him to acquire them (cf. 282d1-2); again the text itself characterizes the first of these conversations as an “example of protreptic speech” (282d4-6).’ (Slings pp. 59-60).
3. Slings bases his late dating of the Clitopho on its stylometric affinity with the late dialogues, but the stylometric affinity does not translate automatically into chronological proximity. The question is, how could an aging Plato adopt a completely new style of writing. On my dating, the stylometric proximity of the Phaedrus and of the Clitopho to the late dialogues provides the answer to this question; Plato in his late dialogues returned to the style of his early days – he learnt to avoid hiatus when he wrote his tragedies before becoming a follower of Socrates – which left its traces in his first dialogue, the Phaedrus, and to which he reverted in the Clitopho in which he most openly and uncompromisingly challenged Socrates' philosophic ignorance. (Cf. Slings p. 226).
It may be objected against my interpretation of the Sophist that it is dramatically separated from the Phaedo by the Apology in which Socrates’ ignorance is as strongly pronounced as in the Euthyphro, and that therefore Plato could not have intended to present it as an elucidation of the influence that he and his dialogues, notably the Clitopho, exercised on Socrates, mediating between the ‘ignorant’ Socrates of the Euthyphro and the ‘knowing’ Socrates of the Phaedo. To this objection I reply that in dramatically placing the Sophist and the Politicus in between the Euthyphro and the Apology Plato represented in a concentrated form, as in a nutshell, his struggle with and against Socrates’ ignorance. For in real time the Clitopho was separated from Socrates’ last day philosophic discourse by the Meno, the Euthyphro, and the Apology, as I shall argue in chapters devoted to these dialogues. In real life Plato’s struggle against Socrates’ ignorance thus had a delayed effect on Socrates. This is what Plato indicated by dramatically placing the Sophist and the Politicus after the Theaetetus and the Euthyphro, but prior to the Apology, the Crito and the Phaedo.
4. S.R. Slings, A Commentary on the Platonic Clitophon, Academische Pers, Amsterdam, 1981, p. 257.
5.I have slightly modified Cohoon’s translation. Instead of his ‘your native city’ for têi patridi I write ‘our native city’. For Cohoon is right in rendering the definite article by a possessive pronoun, but his ‘your’ instead of ‘our’ creates an unwarranted distance between Socrates and the city. Cf. my note 7.
6. The historicity of Apollo’s verdict, ie that of the Delphic oracle, concerning Socrates’ wisdom, is vouched for by Plato’s Apology 21a, and the historicity of Dio’s reference to Archelaus is corroborated by Aristotle’s Rhetoric 1398a24-26: ‘Socrates said that he would not go to Archelaus, for he viewed it as equally insulting (hubrin gar ephê einai) not to be able to requite benefits as to be unable to requite injuries’. Among Antisthenes’ works listed by Diogenes Laertius can be found Archelaus, or Of Kingship (vi.18).
7. Note that when Dio speaks to the Romans, he uses the possessive pronoun humôn ‘your’ in addition to the definite article hê – ‘your city’ (humôn hê polis) – in contrast to Socrates’ speaking to the Athenians, which Dio was reproducing earlier. Cf. my note 5.
8. Cf Julius Tomin, ‘Joining the Beginning to the End’, The Republic and the Laws of Plato, Proceedings of the first Symposium Platonicum Pragense, Oikoumene, Prague 1998, pp. 201-216.
9. Slings emphatically denies Plato’s authorship of Alcibiades I; see pp. 71ff. of his book. He admits that his ‘main reason for regarding Alcibiades I as unauthentic’ is his ‘not assuming that Plato ever wrote a protreptic dialogue’ (Slings p. 74). An able defence of the authenticity of Alcibiades I can be found in N. Denyer’s ‘Introduction’ to: Plato Alcibiades, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2001, pp. 14-26.
10. Blass identified Anonymus Iamblichi as a politico-ethical writing from the time of the Peloponnesian Wars. See Diels-Kranz, ii. 400, note on Anonymus Iamblichi.