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"Let Us Alter And Corrupt The Maxim: Socrates And Aristodemos In The Prologue Of Plato's Symposium."

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April 11, 2018

Speaker & Affiliation

Gabriel Danzig (Bar-Ilan University)


4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Marx 301


Sponsored by the Department of Classics, University Center for Human Values and the Program in Classical Philosophy


Readers have been puzzled by Socrates' suggestion of altering and corrupting the maxim that the good go of their own accord to the feasts of the good, and have offered many suggestions, some invoking textual corruption, to explain in what the alteration and corruption would consist. Taking a clue from the comparison to Menelaos, I argue that Socrates is actually suggesting that Aristodemos violate the maxim in practice by appearing uninvited despite his not belonging to the category of the good. He obscures this insulting suggestion by various stratagems in order to enable Aristodemos to understand that the corruption consists merely in a frivolous pun on the name of the host. But his wording is clear enough that Aristodemos catches the rude implication, but without suspecting that the insult was deliberate. Overpowered by love of Socrates Aristodemos ignores the implications of Socrates' words, forcing Socrates to find another way to evade him. This account of the prologue reveals a clear parallel between Aristodemos, the barefoot lover, and Penia, the uninvited guest who pushes her way into the birthday of Aphrodite. I then discuss the implications of this parallel for understanding the nature of Platonic myth and the Platonic doctrine of eros.