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This volume contains the papers presented at the international symposium Socratica
III. A Conference on Socrates, the Socratics, and Ancient Socratic Literature, held in
Trento, February 23-25, 2012. This conference was the third of a series (the editions of
2005 and 2008 were organized by Livio Rossetti and Alessandro Stavru, joined by Fulvia
de Luise in 2012), whose aim is to promote emerging Socratic studies, ever more char-
acterized by a new understanding of the complexity of the cultural and literary phenom-
enon linked to the figure of the Athenian philosopher.
The name of Socrates evokes an elusive intellectual identity, since many different
Socrateses speak to us, as in a labyrinth of mirrors, in the testimonies of Plato and
Xenophon as well as in the fragments of lost writings by other first-generation Socratics.
Even more issues arise around Socrates beyond the circle of his disciples, as we can glean
through the writings of the comic poets and the sophists. Hence the difficulty in defining
the intellectual features of the philosopher who gave birth to the great collective experi-
ence of the Socratic movement. This difficulty reflected itself in an increasing methodo-
logical caution of scholarship, which ultimately resulted in suspending the quest for the
historical Socrates.
Socratica III hosted several prominent voices in the recent debate (together with those
of a new generation of young scholars), which are fueling what might be called a Socratic
revival. A distinctive feature of this new trend of studies is to focus on Socrates and his
intellectual movement, i.e. not on the sole Platonic testimony (which still plays a promi-
nent role in the transmission of the image of the philosopher), but also on everything which
is around Plato. In contrast with the assumptions that led to the suspension of the Socratic
question, this trend builds upon the efforts made at different times to reconstruct the
debate that originated from Socrates teaching.
All those who experienced the three intense days of the conference had the impression
to be witnessing a real turning point in Socratic scholarship: a complete reversal, in
comparison with the methodological skepticism of Olof Gigon, which not only allows to
shed some light on the numerous dark areas of the context in which the Socratic literature
was born, but also helps to grasp the novelty of Socrates personality as recorded by
contemporary observers.
In such a perspective, reopening the Socratic problem and posing again the question
of what Socrates really said (or did) seemed a fruitful endeavour. And this is probably
the most important scientific achievement of the wide range of studies presented at the
Conference in Trento. We are therefore very pleased to offer the testimony of methodo-
logical creativity represented by these essays, which invite scholars to dare emerging from
the vexata quaestio of the conflictual literary representations of Socrates.
The papers presented at Socratica III deal with (1) the intellectual movement
around Socrates, (2) the literary context in which the texts of the Socratics are framed, (3)
the major topics discussed within this movement, their development within and outside
the Socratic circle and their reception in Late Antiquity, (4) the state of the art of the
Socratic question. A qualifying feature of most of the papers consists in a shift from the
10 Introduction

doctrines of the Socratic schools to the dynamic context in which ideas were presented,
discussed, and eventually fixed within the philosophical and non-philosophical Greek
literature of the 5th and 4th centuries B.C.

A number of persons and institutions have supported Socratica III. Our warmest
thanks go to the International Plato Society (IPS) and the Istituto Italiano per gli Studi
Filosofici of Naples (IISF), under whose auspices was held the meeting; the Department of
Philosophy, History and Cultural Heritage (FSBC) and the Faculty of Humanities of the
University of Trento, and especially its scientific committee constituted by Paola Gia-
comoni, Maurizio Giangiulio, Giorgio Ieran, Fabrizio Meroi and Silvano Zucal which
has promoted and supported the event; the Office of Conferences of the University, whose
support to the program was essential, thanks to the competence and precious help of
Francesca Menna and Ione Fantini; the Municipality of Trento, who offered its patronage.
We would also like to thank Paolo Vanini, still a student at the time of the conference,
whose intense collaboration in the organization and conduct of Socratica III has been
crucial, in particular for having organised and managed of a book display which included
the most significant recent studies devoted to the Socratic literature, as well as for assisting
scholars participating in the conference and for translating some conferences; in addition
many thanks go to Manuela Valle, who made a substantial contribution in editing the
essays contained in this volume, as well as in the creation of the general bibliography and
the index locorum, dedicating herself with careful attention to apply uniform editorial
criteria to a large number of texts.
Last but not least, we would like to express our gratitude and affection to Livio
Rossetti, the creator of the Socratica conferences, whose help has been invaluable.

Fulvia de Luise & Alessandro Stavru

The Present State of Socratic Studies: an Overview

Alessandro Stavru
Freie Universitt Berlin

Scholarly literature on Socrates and the Socratics is growing constantly and steadily.
The number of editions, translations, monographs, collections and articles is increasing
from year to year,1 contributing to a boost of knowledge about Socrates and his pupils as
well as to new ways of interpreting such knowledge. Well established hermeneutical
paradigms spanning from Olof Gigons skeptic approach to Gregory Vlastos account of
the two Socrateses have been challenged and reassessed, often with the explicit aim to
discover new means to deal with the texts of the first-generation Socratics.
One of the most recent and fruitful approaches concerns the way these sources are
handled. Giannantonis collection, however successful in providing access to the frag-
ments of the minor Socratics, remained a work for specialists. It was hardly used by
non-classicists mainly because the texts were neither translated nor thoroughly com-
mented. Now, after two decades, things have changed radically: editions and translations,
mostly drawing and selecting material from the Reliquiae (in some cases even integrating
them) have appeared or are due to appear in different languages.2
Parallel to this phenomenon is the spawning of collections of papers devoted to
Socrates and the Socratics. We now have three Companions to Socrates: after that pub-
lished by Blackwell in 2006, 3 a Cambridge 4 and a Bloomsbury 5 Companion have ap-
1 In this paper I sketch out the major trends characterizing Socratic scholarship in the past three

years. For a survey reaching until 2010 see Stavru & Rossetti (2010).
2 In English: Boys-Stones & Rowe (2013). The chapters are devoted not to single Socratics, but

to major themes debated in the circle of Socrates, i.e. 1. Argument and Truth, 2. Happiness and the
Good, 3. Virtue and Pleasure, 4. Body and Soul, 5. Education, 6. The Erotic Sciences, 7.
Alcibiades and Politics, 8. Aspasia and the Role of Women. 9. God and the World, 10. Lesser
Divinities and Socrates Sign, 11. Debates and Rivalries; in Spanish: Claudia Mrsico (forth-
coming, Madrid, Losada, in 2 volumes containing fragments on A. The Group of the Socratics, B.
Euclides and the Megarics, C. Aristippus and the Cyrenaics, D. Antisthenes, E. Phaedo and the
Elians/Eretrians, F. Aeschines, G. Simon the shoemaker); in French: Dimitri El Murr (ANR project;
since its inception following testimonies have been translated and commented upon: Aristotle (D. El
Murr), the Pseudo-Socratic Letters (O. Renaut), the Latin Church Fathers (L. Saudelli), Ciceros and
Apuleius testimonia (M. Lucciano), Aristoxenus Socrates (M. Narcy). The texts of Plutarch,
Maximus of Tyre, Diogenes Laertius and Stobaeus are expected to be translated in 2014.
3 Ahbel-Rappe & Kamtekar (2006).
4 Morrison (2011), with contributions by L.-A. Dorion, The Rise and Fall of the Socratic

Problem, K. Dring, The Students of Socrates, D.K. OConnor, Xenophon and the Enviable Life
of Socrates, D. Konstan, Socrates in Aristophanes Clouds, P. Woodruff, Socrates and the New
Learning, M.L. McPherran, Socratic Religion, J. Ober, Socrates and Democratic Athens, H.H.
Benson, Socratic Method, C. Rowe, Self-Examination, R. Bett, Socratic Ignorance, M. Lane,
12 Alessandro Stavru

peared, and a Brill volume with contributions reaching from 5th Century literature on
Socrates to Libanius is in preparation.6 Important collections of essays by major scholars
on Socrates have also appeared: two valuable volumes feature the works that Klaus
Dring7 and Andreas Patzer8 wrote over the last decades, thus providing comprehensive
overviews of their approaches to the Socratic literature. The same importance applies to
the books by Gabriel Danzig 9 and Livio Rossetti 10 , although in these collections the
contributions go back to a shorter period of time.
Reconsidering Socratic Irony, T. Penner, Socratic Ethics and the Socratic Psychology of Action:
A Philosophical Framework, C. Bobonich, Socrates and Eudaimonia, C.L. Griswold, Socrates
Political Philosophy, and A.A. Long, Socrates in Later Greek Philosophy.
5 Bussanich & Smith (2013), with contributions by R. Waterfield, The Quest for the Historical

Socrates; D. Wolfsdorf, Socratic Philosophizing; W.J. Prior, Socratic Metaphysics; K.

McPartland, Socratic Ignorance and Types of Knowledge; H.H. Benson, The Priority of Defini-
tion; N. Reshotko, Socratic Eudaimonism; T.M. Brickhouse & N.D. Smith, Socratic Moral
Psychology; S. Obdrzalek, Socrates on Love; C.N. Johnson, Socrates Political Philosophy;
M.L. McPherran, Socratic Theology and Piety; J. Bussanich, Socrates Religious Experiences;
M. Ralkowski, The Politics of Impiety: Why Was Socrates Prosecuted by the Athenian Democra-
6 This Companion-like volume is expected to come out in 2014 for Brill (eds. F. de Luise, C.

Moore, A. Stavru), with contributions on Socrates as seen by the Comics, the Sophists, the Socratics,
the Peripatus, Hellenism, Roman Empire, Middle Platonism, Diogenes Laertius, Neoplatonism, and
7 Dring (2010), Rossetti (2011), and Patzer (2012). Drings book contains essays written in

the 80s as well as more recent ones: Antisthenes Sophist oder Sokratiker? (1985), Diogenes und
Antisthenes (1995), Spielereien, mit verdecktem Ernst vermischt. Unterhaltsame Formen litera-
rischer Wissensvermittlung bei Diogenens von Sinope und den frhen Kyrenaikern (1993), Der
Sokratesschler Aristipp und die Kyrenaiker (1988), Der Sokrates der platonischen Apologie und
die Frage nach dem historischen Sokrates (1987), Review of R. Kraut, Socrates and the State
(1986), Die Prodikos-Episode im pseudoplatonischen Eryxias(2005), Platons Garten, sein Haus,
das Museion und die Sttten der Lehrttigkeit Platons (2008), Der Sokrates des Aischines aus
Sphettos und die Frage nach dem historischen Sokrates (1984), Biographisches zur Person des
Sokrates im Corpus Aristotelicum (2007), Gab es eine Dialektische Schule? (1989), Review of
Socratis et Socraticorum Reliquiae, collegit, disposuit, apparatibus notisque instruxit G. Giannantoni
(1994), Sokrates auf der Opernbhne (2001).
8 In Patzers collection we find quite like in Drings works reaching back to the 80s, but

also a recent paper on Aristophanes: Sokrates als Philosoph: das Gute (1990), Die Wolken des
Aristophanes als philosophiegeschichtliches Dokument (1993), Sokrates in den Vgeln und in den
Frschen des Aristophanes (2012), Sokrates in den Fragmenten der Attischen Komdie (1994),
Sokrates in der Tragdie (1998), Die Platonische Apologie als philosophisches Meisterwerk
(2000), Der Xenophontische Sokrates als Dialektiker (1999), Sokrates und Archelaos (2006),
Sokrates als Soldat (1999), Sokrates und Iphikrates (1985), Beim Hunde! Sokrates und der Eid
des Rhadamanthys (2003), Sokrates und die Dreiig.
9 Danzig (2010), containing: Plato and Xenophon on Socrates Behavior in Court (The Apol-

ogies) (2003), Building a Community under Fire (Crito) (2006), Disgracing Meletus (Eu-
thyphro), Xenophons Socratic Seductions (Memorabilia), Platos Socratic Seductions (Lysis),
Why Socrates Was Not a Farmer: Xenophons Apology for Socrates in Oeconomicus (2003).
10 Rossetti (2011). Rossettis collection includes papers belonging to the most recent phase of

his production (from 1998 to 2010): Le dialogue socratique in statu nascendi (2003), LEuthy-
dme de Xnophon (2007), Savoir imiter, cest connatre. Le cas de Mmorables III 8 (2008),
LEuthyphron comme vnement communicationnel (1998), Le ridicule comme arme entre les
mains de Socrate et de ses lves (2000), La rhtorique de Socrate (2001), Le ct inauthentique
The Present State of Socratic Studies: an Overview 13

Even more collections are awaited as proceedings of conferences which took place or
are due to take place in the near future. Since 2011 the Sokratische Gesellschaft holds its
annual meetings every April in Wrzburg, 11 and publishes the results of them in the
Mitteilungen der sokratischen Gesellschaft (last issue: nr. 52, 2013).12 In September 2013
(26-28) a conference devoted to The Philosophical Relevance of the Minor Socratic
Schools was held in Soprabolzano (Italy), 13 another one took place in Aix-en-Provence
(France) from December 7-8 (2013) on Socrates at the Agora: What Purpose Does
Philosophical Dialogue Serve Today?,14 and other events are scheduled for summer 2014
in Tel Aviv (Israel), on Plato and Xenophon: Comparative Studies15 and Portland (Or-
A major ongoing project to be mentioned in this context is that financed by the French
Agence Nationale de Recherche (Socrates: sources, traditions, usages. Pour une herm-
neutique du socratisme de lAntiquit la fin du Moyen ge). It is coordinated by Dimitri
El Murr in Paris. Its main aim is to translate into French Giannantonis Reliquiae and,
where necessary, to improve on that edition. The first year of activity (November
2010-December 2011) has been entirely devoted to the Socrates of Aristotle (which have
been translated and commentated upon by D. El Murr), on which a workshop has been
held in Paris, March 29-31, 2012.17

Scholarly activities on Socrates are constantly increasing, and one may only wonder
where this development will eventually lead. Socratic scholarship has become extremely
du dialoguer platonicien (2001), Les socratiques premiers philosophes et Socrate premier
philosophe (2010). For a complete bibliography and access to previous Socratic writings of
Rossetti, go to
11 The last meeting has been held in Wrzburg, Germany, last April (20-21, 2013). Its topic was

Sokrates und die Kunst.

12 President of the Sokratische Gesellschaft is Michael Erler. Among the papers on Socrates

and/or the Socratics published or due to be duly published in the Mitteilungen are: A. Stavru (2013),
K. Dring (Sokrates und die Musik, forthcoming 2014), M. Steinhart (Ein Bild von Sokrates,
forthcoming 2014), E.M. Kaufmann (Nur die Weisen knnen tun, was sie begehren? Facetten der
Sokrates-Ikonographie, forthcoming 2014).
13 With papers by C. Rowe (The first generation Socratics and the Socratic schools), K. Lampe

(The Cynic Teles), D. OBrien, A. Brancacci (Il Socrate di Antistene), V. Tsouna (Platos
representation of the Socratics and their circle), R. Bett (Pyrrho and the Socratic schools), T.
Dorandi (The Socratics in the Herculaneum Papyri), and L. Rossetti (Lo Zopiro di Fedone (e le
confidenze di Socrate)). Organizer: Ugo Zilioli. The Proceedings (including also contributions by
T. OKeefe, F. Verde, and C. Mrsico) are scheduled to appear for Acumen by late 2014.
14 Conference organized by the Institute of History of Philosophy together with the Research

Center for Classical Philosophy Kairos Kai Logos. Organizer: Mieke de Moor.
15 The conference will take place on June, 9-12, at Bar-Ilan University Tel Aviv. Invited

speakers: F. Bevilacqua, L.-A. Dorion, N. Humble, D. Johnson, D. Morrison, J. Redfield, and A.

Stavru. Academic advisory committee: Gabriel Danzig, Don Morrison, Nili Alon Amit. Organizer:
Gabriel Danzig.
16 Nicholas D. Smith is organizing an NEH Summer Seminar on Socrates at the Lewis & Clark

College Portland, June 22-July 25.

17 With T. Auffret, G. Boys-Stones, O. DJerenian, L.-A. Dorion, D. El Murr, D. Morrison, M.

Narcy, P. Pontier, O. Renaut, G. Roskam, C. Rowe, L. Saudelli, A. Stavru, C. Vieillard, and V.

Tsouna. See footnote 2 for more details on the translation work done. For updates see the
ANR-website run by Lucia Saudelli, which contains a useful Socratic bibliography:

14 Alessandro Stavru

variegated and dynamic. Approaches, methodologies, sometimes even the topics treated
are new and original, thus enriching and refreshing a whole field of studies. But let us look
in detail what kind of topics the scholarship is currently dealing with.
Crucial for understanding the role played by Socrates and his movement in the 5th and
4 centuries is to trace the elements which led to the birth and raise of a new prose genre in
Greek literature, the Skratikoi logoi. It is important to note that this genre did not arise ex
nihilo: many of its characteristic features, such as the authors reluctance to state explicitly
his ideas, or even to identify with them, can be found in a whole generation of sophoi: as
Livio Rossetti suggests, a red thread seems to hold together Zeno of Elea, the Sophists,
Socrates, and the first-generation Socratics.18 Indeed, many hints point to an interplay
between the texts of the Sophists and those of the Socratics. Andrew Ford, who is working
on this topic since 2006, maintains that Socratic literature derives not from fifth-century
mime or drama (as commonly acknowledged on the grounds of Aristotles testimony), but
from the context of the burgeoning rhetorical literature of the period.19 A similar position
is held by David Murphy, who, by claiming that the Skratikoi logoi are not grouped with
mimetic genres, shows that these form instead a genre on their own. Their influence on
Isocrates is patent, as Murphy suggests, since his speeches respond to views that can only
have come from dialogues.20 The uniqueness of the Socratic dialogue is a feature pointed
out also by Luigi Maria Segoloni, according to whom the plok of dialogue, i.e. its mixture
of different genres, reflects its hybrid nature, being at the juncture between literature and
philosophy. This accounts for the autonomy of dialogue, which obeys to its own rules, and
not to those of other literary genres.21 In fact, there is no doubt that dialogue is essential for
defining the literary production of the Socratics. Klaus Dring dwells on the well-known
fact that besides Aristippus all the major Socratics wrote dialogues, whose prime purpose
was not to provide accounts of conversations that actually took place, but to discuss,
through fictitious reconstructions, philosophical issues in the same manner in which
Socrates did.22
A major problem in dealing with the Skratikoi logoi is that only those of Plato and
Xenophon survive complete. Of the other Socratics we have only fragments: in some cases
significant ones (as Aeschines Alcibiades, Aspasia and Miltiades, and Phaedos Zopyrus),
in other cases scarce ones or even nothing at all. This lack of primary sources makes it
difficult to determine the exact amount of the Socratic literature and thus to identify the
group of the Socratics: Debra Nails reconstruction, 23 however helpful, leaves many
questions open as to the extension and the qualifying features of the Socratic circle. On the
issue of who may be qualified as a Socratic and who not an issue which still deserves to
be tackled systematically Christopher Rowe and Voula Tsouna provided insightful
reflections in recent papers.24
Another way to deal with the lack of primary sources is to look at the literary context
in which these are embedded, so as to broaden the picture and understand the general
Rossetti (2012), which develops on ideas formulated in (2010a).
Ford (2006), (2008), and (2010).
20 Murphy (2013), 312.
21 Segoloni (2012). A similar approach can be found also in Segolonis paper in this volume.
22 Dring (2011).
23 Nails (2002).
24 C. Rowe, The first generation Socratics and the Socratic schools and V. Tsouna, Platos

representation of the Socratics and their circle, papers held at the Soprabolzano conference men-
tioned above.
The Present State of Socratic Studies: an Overview 15

features of that context. It is, for example, intructive to observe the way the Socratics deal
with the Homeric texts. Chapters of a recent book by Silvia Montiglio dwells extensively
on Antisthenes and Platos pictures of Odysseus. Anthistenes defense of Odysseus
polytropia is the first extensive endorsement of the heros character we have in Antiquity.
Montiglio claims that Antisthenes probably inherited his appreciation for Odysseus from
his teacher, Socrates, whose admiration for Odysseus is likely to be historically founded. It
is interesting to note that in Plato Odysseus is a more complex figure, bearing positive as
well as negative aspects: in the myth of Er for example, he is reborn as a philosopher in
order to remove the troublesome sides of his personality. 25 A paper by Naoko Yamagata
shows the use Plato and Xenophon make of Homeric quotations and references. It is
striking that Plato, though criticizing epic poetry, introduces Homeric references far more
often than Xenophon, who in the majority of his writings makes little use of Homer. The
exception to this comes in Xenophons Socratic writings, where Socrates frequently
recalls Homeric references in order to criticize epic poems and rhapsodes (this does not
apply to the Oeconomicus, however, where we have virtually no reference to Homer).
Yamagata explains this difference by concluding that the historical Socrates probably did
use Homeric references frequently in his conversation, as reported by both Plato, who
loves Homer, and Xenophon, who is not normally keen to quote Homer. 26 Platos rela-
tionship toward Homeric poetry is complex: on the one hand he cannot avoid citing and
using it, on the other he thoroughly attacks it. Recent studies27 focus on this ambivalence,
which is of crucial importance not only for some famous passages of the Republic (II, III
and X), but also for the juxtaposition of philosophy and poetry we find in the Ion, a
dialogue possibly belonging to the beginning of Platos literary production.28 The Ancient
Quarrel between philosophy and poetry is debated in a number of recent works dwelling
mainly on the Ion.29 References to Homer and poetry seem to play a key role also in other
dialogues, reaching until the very last phase of Platos production (e.g. in Hippias Minor,30
Symposium,31 Phaedo32, Phaedrus33, and Laws34).
Looking at the literary context in which the Socratic logoi were written helps us gain
insights about their tendency to follow a general trend toward mixing genres that becomes
Montiglio (2011).
Yamagata (2012), 144. It is important to note that Polycrates openly accused Socrates of
availing quotations from Homer in a tendentious manner (e.g. Xen. Mem. 1.2.56 and 58). On the use
of Odyssiac rhetoric in Xenophon Mem. 4.2 see the contribution by Cristiana Caserta in this
27 Destre & Herrmann (2011).
28 The Ion may have even been written when Socrates was still alive (as e.g. Heitsch 2003 and

2004 claims), a possibility that seems to back the hypothesis of an historical Socrates keen on using
frequently references to Homer in his teaching.
29 Saadi Liebert (2010), Barfield (2011), Trivigno (2012), Griswold (2012), M. Sentesy,

Philosophy and the Struggle Between Poetry and Expertise, paper held at the SAGP conference,
Fordham University, October 11-13, 2013.
30 Adams (2010).
31 E. Belfiore, The Image of Achilles in Platos Symposium, paper held at the conference

Plato and the Power of Images, Bryn Mawr Session, October 11-12, 2013.
32 McPherran (2012b).
33 A. Capra, Socrates Plays Stesichorus, paper held at the CHS Research Symposium, April

27-28, 2012. Andrea Capra has a book project on Platos Four Muses and the Poetics of philosophy,
due to appear for CHS Harvard University Press.
34 Laks (2011).

16 Alessandro Stavru

particularly evident in the sophistic literature. An interesting paper by Rachel Ahern

Knudsen sheds light on the multiple links connecting poetry, rhetoric and philosophy by
examining four hybrid model speeches: Gorgias Defense of Palamedes, Antisthenes
Ajax and Odysseus, and Alcidamas Odysseus.35 A similar approach can be noticed in the
already mentioned article by David Murphy, whose concern is to connect passages in
Isocrates to dialogues of Hippias, Antisthenes, and Plato.36 By observing the phenomenon
of the Skratikoi logoi from the perspective of sophistry, and in particular of Isocrates, this
paper succeeds in showing how dialogues were understood outside the Socratic circle.

Another essential viewpoint on Socrates and the Socratics is that of Aristophanes.

Various approaches to his portrait of Socrates have been attempted: one is to compare
what we find in the Clouds with the topics discussed in the Skratikoi logoi, taking as
authentic only what is compatible with these; the other is to look beyond the exaggerations
and distortions of Comedy and search for doctrines which are not attested in the writings
of the Socratics. David Konstan follows the latter option, coming to the conclusion that
Aristophanes assembled a hodge-podge of intellectual pursuits, from eristic argumenta-
tion to speculation about the gods, astronomy, meteorological phenomena, biology,
poetry, and grammar, and combined them all in Socrates Aristophanes Socrates was a
compound figure, combining characteristics of Protagoras (grammar), Damon (metrics:
cf. Plato Republic 400a), Hippo of Elis (sky as lid), and Diogenes of Apollonia, who made
air the arch-principle of all things.37 These connections are explored in three learned
papers that provide hints useful to clarify the historical background of the meteorological
doctrines Aristophanes mocks at. It is for instance unclear whether and to what extent
these doctrines should be attributed to Diogenes or Archelaus, how they relate to each
other, and if they should be understood in the context of Presocratic physiology.38 In fact, a
variety of bodies of knowledge are attributed to Socrates and his disciples in the Clouds. It
is plausible that Aristophanes not only had a clear idea of the academic disciplines which
were taught in Athens in his time, but that he expected also his public to have such an
idea.39 There are convincing arguments for thinking that Aristophanes did not provide a
purely fictional account of Socrates, as a completely unrealistic portrait would have
yielded no comic effect. On the contrary, there is evidence that the Clouds influenced
profoundly the common opinion on Socrates even many years after their rehearsal, fueling
the hostile feelings which led to the accusations brought against him in 399. Following up
on this, Giovanni Cerri claims that there are solid grounds to believe that the Socrates of
the Clouds sticks to the historical Socrates. Since we have parallel issues in Aristopha-
nes and in the Socratics portraits of Socrates, and as it is difficult to assume that the latter
were relying on the former, it is possible to infer that both derive from the same source:

35 Knudsen (2012). On the connections between Gorgias Defense of Palamedes and Socratic

literature see the paper by Alonso Tordesillas in this volume.

36 Murphy (2013).
37 Konstan (2011), 85-86.
38 Gbor Betegh thinks that the Socrates of the Clouds should be related to Archelaus and not to

Diogenes (G. Betegh, Spoofing Presocratic Arguments. Once again on Socrates in the Clouds,
paper held at the GANPH conference in Wrzburg, Germany, from September 28 to October 1,
2010). Fazzo (2009) and Demont (2010) give thorough reconstructions of the physiological doctrines
at the background of Aristophanes account.
39 Bromberg (2012).
The Present State of Socratic Studies: an Overview 17

the real Socrates.40 Cerri backs this claim by showing how the doctrines hinted at in the
meteorosophist passages of the Clouds (e.g. 93-96, 137-179, 187-189, 191-194,
200-217) match with those expounded in the autobiographical section of the Phaedo
(95e7-100a9). Even the qualification phrontists seems to go back to the real Socrates,
as we can find it in Aristophanes well-known account of the phrontistrion, in Ameipsias
Connos (where the choir is made of phrontistai: Ath. 218c), in Platos Apology (18b7), and
in Xenophons Symposium (6.6). Some caution should however be applied when com-
bining these parallel passages, as their scope is by no means identical. The aim of the
Comics is to attack Socrates and his pupils, while the Socratics, by referring to those
accusations, try to show their groundlessness, or to deflect them on other intellectuals of
the time. This is a main issue in Andrea Capras work, which is devoted to exploring the
connections between Aristophanes and Plato. As Capra shows in detail, references to the
Comics can be found even in lengthy dialogues of Plato such as the Protagoras.41 Here,
Platos attempt is to distinguish between Sophists and philosophers, in order to deflect
Aristophanes accusations onto the former.

We know that Plato eventually succeeded in establishing this dichotomy but we also
know that at Socrates death, when Plato still had to emerge as the most distinguished of
the Socratics, the term sophia encompassed quite distinct strands of knowledge. It is a
well-known fact that the eldest Socratic, Antisthenes, had been the pupil both of Socrates
and Gorgias, and that among his writings were not only dialogues on a variety of issues,
but also rhetorical exercises, such as the Ajax and the Odysseus.42 In order to gain a
comprehensive view of Antisthenes thought his literary production should be therefore
examined in its full breadth. A forthcoming volume edited by Vladislav Suvk attempts to
do so, featuring contributions by major scholars in Antisthenes and Cynic tradition. 43
Papers by Menahem Luz and Aldo Brancacci follow this trend, showing how Antisthenes
views on education play a pivotal role for issues which are much debated also among other
40Cerri (2012), 157.
41Capra (2001) and (2004). Capras work focuses also on other connections between Aris-
tophanes and Platos works, i.e. between the Clouds and the Symposium (2007a), the Knights and the
Gorgias/Republic (2007b), the Assemblywomen and the Republic (2007c). On these topics see also
Capra (2008) and (2012). On the parallel issues between Aristophanes Clouds and Platos Phaedo
and Protagoras see C. Caserta, Discorso Forte, Discorso Debole, Discorso Sicuro. Socrate nelle
Nuvole, nel Fedone e nel Protagora (forthcoming).
42 On the two declamatory speeches of Antisthenes see Djurslev (2011).
43 Suvk (2014), with papers by A. Brancacci, W. Desmond, L.-A. Dorion, M.-O. Goulet-Caz,

G. Mazzara, L. Navia, and S. Prince. Other contributors to the volume are P.P. Fuentes Gonzles, L.
Flachbartov, S. Husson, G. Luck, C. Mrsico, and A. Stavru. Most of Vladislav Suvks work on the
Socratics is in Slovak. See e.g. his commentary of Antisthenes fragments (Kala & Suvk [2010]),
or the two volumes he edited (2006-2007) on The Socratic tradition of thought from Antiquity to
present (resp. 369 and 265 pages), with contributions by V. Suvk (Socratic movement), J. Gai-
da-Krynicka (Socratic question), M. Fedorko (Irony), F. imon (Medicine), U. Wollner (Friendship),
D. Olesiski (Dialectics), M. Porubjak (Xenophon), A. Kala (Xenophon), D. Kubok (Euclides), V.
Suvk (Cynicism), A. Kala (Cynicism and Stoicism), E. Urbancov (Cicero), M. Fedorko (Aristo-
tle), M. Fridmanov (Arendt), M. Nemec (Patoka), M. Krik (Socrates Death), I. Komanick
(Responsibility), D. Morse (Pragmatism), M. Krik (Guthrie and Nehamas), D. Kubok (Elenchus),
D. Olesiski (Conscience), D. Rymar (Qualitative models), P. Labuda (Euthyphro), E. Andreansk
(Socratic Fallacy), J. Petrelka (Division of the Soul), F. imon (Phaedo 118a), E. Urbancov
(Natura and virtue), M. Fedorko (Kierkegaard), D. Morse (Nietzsche), M. Krik (Patoka).

18 Alessandro Stavru

Socratics.44 Some of these issues can be found in later Cynics such as Teles and Epicte-
tus,45 although a direct link from Antisthenes teaching to Cynic (and Stoic) tradition is not
always traceable. The same difficulty applies to the doctrines which were taught in other
so-called Socratic schools, e.g. the Megarian or the Cyrenaic: recent books by Ugo
Zilioli46 and Kurt Lampe47 show that issues tackled by authors like Eubulides, Diodorus
Cronus, Stilpo, Hegesias, Anniceris, and Theodorus belong to the context of Hellenistic
philosophy, thus having little in common with the topics discussed among the
first-generation Socratics.
Another Socratic on which scholarly work is ongoing is Aeschines of Sphettus. A new
edition of his fragments is in preparation,48 and topics of the Alcibiades and the Aspasia
parallel to those we find in Plato and Xenophon have been discussed in recent papers. 49
This approach is valuable also for Socratics on which we have only indirect evidence: by
reconstructing what we find about them in Aristophanes, Plato and Xenophon we can
sketch out their intellectual world, and draw some hypotheses about their main tenets.
Christopher Moore has applied this method on Chaerephon and Clitophon, providing
useful portraits of these companions of Socrates.50

The next Socratic to be talked about is Xenophon, whose Socratic writings have been
studied with increasing attention since 2001. In the past three years this trend has even
intensified: four new translations of his Socratic works have been published,51 as well as
vast collections of papers both on his Socratic and non-Socratic writings. Of major im-
portance are the proceedings of the Liverpool conference,52 which encompass contribu-
tions dealing with almost every aspect of Xenophons uvre. A similar approach char-
acterized a conference that took place in Paris in 2011, the proceedings of which are in
preparation,53 and the collection edited by Vivienne Gray. 54 These endeavours show in a
44 M. Luz, Antisthenes Concept of Paideia, paper delivered at the XXIII World Congress of

Philosophy, Athens, August, 4-10, 2013; A. Brancacci, Il Socrate di Antistene, paper held at the
above mentioned Soprabolzano conference The Philosophical Relevance of the Minor Socratic
Schools. On the political background of Antisthenes paideia see Brancaccis paper in this volume.
45 K. Lampe, The Cynic Teles, paper held at the aforementioned conference held in So-

prabolzano, and Johnson (2012).

46 Zilioli (2012) and The Circle of Megara, due to appear for Acumen in late 2014.
47 Kurt Lampe, The Birth of Hedonism: Cyrenaic Ethics from Aristippus to Walter Pater,

appearing in 2014 for Princeton University Press.

48 By Francesca Pentassuglio (Rome).
49 See De Martino (2010), Lampe (2010), and Yonezawa (2012a). Cf. also the section on Ae-

schines in this volume.

50 Moore (2012a), (2012b), and Chaerephon the Socratic, Phoenix (forthcoming).
51 In Italian: Bevilacqua (2010), in French: Bandini & Dorion (2011) on both of which see the

reviews in this book; in Portuguese: Pinheiro (2011); and in English: Sanders (2013).
52 Hobden & Tuplin (2012). Following essays of the nearly 800 pages long volume deal ex-

plicitly with Socrates: D.M. Johnson (2012), M. Stokes (2012), R. Waterfield (2012), L.-A. Dorion
(2012), and S. Schorn (2012) (= English version of Schorn [2010]).
53 The conference Xnophon et la rhtorique was organized by the University of Par-

is-Sorbonne from December 2-3, 2011, with papers by C. Tuplin, M. Narcy, G. Cuniberti, M.-P.
Nol, M. Tamiolaki, G. Daverio Rocchi, L.-A. Dorion, P. Pontier, N. Humble, A. Blaineau, P.
Demont, R. Nicolai, M. Casevitz, P. Chiron, L. Pernot, and V. Gray. Organizer: Pierre Pontier.
54 Gray (2010). With contributions by V.J. Gray, Introduction; S.B. Pomeroy, Slavery in the

Greek Domestic Economy in the Light of Xenophons Oeconomicus (1989); E. Baragwanath,

The Present State of Socratic Studies: an Overview 19

paradigmatic way that no rigid division of topics and disciplines can be drawn in Xeno-
phon: a holistic approach is therefore necessary for every enquiry on his work. This entails
that even those who are interested only in what he reports about Socrates should take into
account non-philosophical writings such as Cyropedia55 and Poroi.56 As a matter of fact,
Socratic topics can be found in almost every work of Xenophon: this makes it critical to
look for passages that Socratic scholars normally do not take into account, which are
however useful for understanding peculiar aspects of Socrates personality and teaching.
Among the works devoted specifically to Xenophons portrait of Socrates, the Belles
Lettres collection of Louis-Andr Dorions articles plays a pivotal role.57 Here we find
coherent reconstructions of Xenophons Socrates most important philosophical notions,
including enkrateia, autarkeia, akrasia, sophia, and basilik techn. By reading these
insightful papers the philosophical skills of Xenophon become evident, once more
showing the inadequacy of the age-old commonplace that considers him as a dull didac-
ticist, unable to convey the core of Socrates thought. A similar approach can be seen in
David OConnors chapter on Xenophon in the Cambridge Companion to Socrates.58 Here
we find a thoughtful account of Socratic sophia and ers presented in connection with
other issues such as the common features between Socrates and Cyrus, or the accusations
which led to the conviction of Socrates in 399. In fact, apologetic aims play a significant
part both in the first section of the Memorabilia (1.1.8-1.2.64) and in the Apology. Recent
papers by Michael Stokes59 and Robin Waterfield60 show that every enquiry into Xeno-
phons defensive strategy must rely on a reconstruction that encompasses issues linked to
chronology, politics, and religion. But there is more to it: defending Socrates from the
accusation of corrupting the youth is possible only if one addresses his conception of love
and friendship. Kirk Sanders offers an account of the way Xenophon assesses his rela-
tionship with Alcibiades,61 while Tazuko van Berkel shows how Xenophons commer-
cial language of reciprocity does not imply what modern readers have often labeled as

Xenophons Foreign Wives (2002); C. Hindley, Xenophon on Male Love (1999); P. Gauthier,
Xenophons Programme in the Poroi (1984); S. Johnstone, Virtuous Toil, Vicious Work: Xen-
ophon on Aristocratic Style (1994); S. Goldhill, The Seductions of the Gaze: Socrates and His
Girlfriends (1998); D.R. Morrison, Xenophons Socrates as Teacher (1994); A. Patzer, Xeno-
phons Socrates as Dialectician (1999); B. Huss, The Dancing Socrates and the Laughing Xeno-
phon, or The Other Symposium (1999); L.-A. Dorion, The Straussian Interpretation of Xenophon:
The Paradigmatic Case of Memorabilia IV.4 (2001); P. Carlier, The Idea of Imperial Monarchy in
Xenophons Cyropaedia (1978); P. Stadter, Fictional Narrative in the Cyropaideia (1991); E.
Lefvre, The Question of the Good Life. The Meeting of Cyrus and Croesus in Xenophon (1971);
M. Reichel, Xenophons Cyropaedia and the Hellenistic Novel (1995); H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg,
The Death of Cyrus: Xenophons Cyropaedia as a Source for Iranian History (1985); H.D.
Westlake, The Sources for the Spartan Debacle at Haliartus (1985); H. Erbse, Xenophons
Anabasis (1966), J. Ma, You Cant Go Home Again: Displacement and Identity in Xenophons
Anabasis (2004); P.J. Bradley, Irony and the Narrator in Xenophons Anabasis (2001); V.J. Gray,
Interventions and Citations in Xenophons Hellenica and Anabasis (2003).
55 Gray (2011), on which see the review in this book.
56 See Schorn (2010) and (2012).
57 Dorion (2013), which collects nineteen articles published between 2000 and 2011.
58 OConnor (2011).
59 Stokes (2012).
60 Waterfield (2012).
61 Sanders (2011).

20 Alessandro Stavru

utilitarianism.62 How peculiar the personality of this Socrates is can be seen in two other
papers addressing his feminism (in Memorabilia 3.11) 63 and his ability to produce
laughter (gelopoiia) in interlocutors (in the Symposium). 64 Since Vincent Azoulays
seminal book65 it is clear that the charismatic features of Xenophons Socrates play a key
role in his way of dealing with others, both in the microcosmic context of the oikos66 and in
the macrocosmic one of the polis.67 As to the political attitudes connected to his person-
ality, scholars still disagree whether these can be considered as matching with democra-
cy68 or rather with oligarchy.69

Another Socrates which has undergone great changes in the past years is that depicted
by Plato. Recent scholarship follows the trend of broadening his picture(s) of Socrates by
going beyond the early dialogues. A whole series of books follows this path, in the
attempt to reconstruct lines of thought that stretch along vast portions of the Platonic
corpus. David McNeill focuses mainly on ethical and political aspects in Gorgias, Pro-
tagoras, and Republic, drawing interesting parallels with Nietzsche.70 Laurence Lampert
has a similar approach, being influenced by both Nietzsche and Strauss. He gives thorough
accounts of the Protagoras, the Charmides and the Republic, paying attention to philo-
sophical, dramatic, and historical detail. 71 Even more dialogues (Apology, Theaetetus,
Republic, Phaedo, Euthydemus, Lovers, and Sophist) are examined in Sandra Petersons
seminal book. Addressing the question of why Platos Socrates seems to differ from
dialogue to dialogue, she argues that all Platonic dialogues show Socrates concerned with
examining his interlocutor and so engaging in the central component of the complex
activity, philosophizing.72 The different views Plato puts in the mouth of Socrates are
neither his own nor Socrates, but rather those of the interlocutors Socrates is examining.
According to Peterson, these differences therefore entail neither a development of Platos
thought nor a dichotomy between a Socratic and a non-Socratic period of Platos pro-
duction: contra Vlastos, Socrates remains the same throughout all of Platos work. An-
other book tackling the Platonic corpus as a whole is that of Nikos Charalabopoulos. The
thesis of this volume is interesting as to the much debated issue of the birth of the Socratic
dialogue: as Platos writings are prose dramatic compositions i.e. works that consist of
the words and deeds of their characters without the intervention of an authorial voice,
their meaning should be established against the background of contemporary production

Van Berkel (2010).
Calvo, T., Does Xenophons Theodote Dialogue Make Socrates Out to Be a Feminist?,
paper held at the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy, Athens, August, 4-10, 2013.
64 Testenoire (2013).
65 Azoulay (2004).
66 See P. Pontier, : rhtorique et idal dordre dans lEconomique (et ailleurs), paper

delivered at the conference Xnophon et la rhtorique, Paris, December 2-3, 2011 and P. Spahn,
Xenophons Oikonomikos, paper held at the Topoi-conference Oikonomia und Chrematistike,
Berlin, November 7-8, 2013.
67 Schorn ([2010] 2012) and Stavru (2013).
68 See Gray (2011b).
69 Bevilacqua (2010) and Gaile-Irbe (2012).
70 McNeill (2010).
71 Lampert (2010).
72 Peterson (2011), 4.
The Present State of Socratic Studies: an Overview 21

of texts,73 that is, as an alternative to contemporary theater plays such as those of Aris-
tophanes and Euripides. Evidence on Platonic dialogue as a new type of drama, or
metatheatre, can be found all across Platos work (the passages of the Ion, the Republic
and the Laws being obviously of major importance). Charalabopoulos thesis is not new,74
but the way he expounds it is convincing, as he backs it dwelling extensively on evidence
about the performance of Platonic dialogues in antiquity. This performative aspect is
tackled also by Laura Candiotto,75 according to which Platos dialogues were not only read
aloud within the Academy, but also rehearsed in public places. Their main scope was
therefore political, i.e. to purify the Athenian community from erroneous ideas. This
happened through an elenctic practice which Candiotto labels as retroactive, as it in-
volved not only Socratess interlocutors, but also, behind them, the whole audience
assisting in the rehearsal. An approach not very different from Candiottos is that of
Danielle Allen. She holds that Plato made use of his literary skills to effect a political
change. By using language in a self-conscious attempt to shape peoples minds he thus
managed to transform Athenian culture and politics through writings and public lectures.76
Athens plays an important role in Platos dialogues. References to places Socrates
used to visit within and outside the polis occur throughout the Platonic corpus, often
providing the settings of single dialogical units. Two recent publications show how func-
tional this topography is in relation to Socrates philosophical and political aims. 77 These
two aspects are closely intertwined in Plato,78 as in his view practicing the art of politics
goes together with leading a philosophical life. Christopher Long deals with this in a
variety of publications in which he shows that Socrates is the Platonic political ideal.
Politics involves cultivating the ideals of justice, beauty and the good, which according to
Long is possible only through the transformative power of Socratic speaking and Platonic
writing.79 The relationship of Socrates with Athenian democracy80 is, however, problem-
atic, as his prosecution in 399 shows. Studies on this well-trodden topic are still flour-
ishing, with a strong focus on the early dialogues of Plato.81
A topic linked to politics, to which much attention has been devoted in the past years,
is that of Socratic eudaimonism. Different approaches to it can be traced in Platos dia-
logues. Socrates seems to avow two theses incompatible with each other: that of the
73 Charalabopoulos (2012), 18-19. The issue of Socratic dialogue is debated in chapter 2:

74 See Nightingale (2005) and Puchner (2010).
75 Candiotto (2012a). See also (2011), (2012b), (2013a), (2013b), and (2013c).
76 Allen (2010), on which see the review of Capra (2012a).
77 Nuzzo (2011) and N. Charalabopoulos, Pilgrims to Athens: The Philosophical Topography

of Platos Parmenides, paper held at the conference Platos Parmenides, Chania (Greece), Sep-
tember 26-29, 2011.
78 Comprehensive overviews on Platos Socrates conception of politics are those of Griswold

(2011) and Johnson (2013). On philosophy as the true political craft (Gorg. 521d) see Shaw (2011).
79 Long (2011), (2012a), (2012b), and (2014).
80 See Jedan (2010), Ober (2011), and Y. Kurihara, Socrates as a Radical Politician, paper

held at the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy, Athens, August, 4-10, 2013.
81 See the translation of and commentary on Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, and Phaedo by

Christopher Rowe (2010), the anthology edited by Dave Johnson (2011), with translated extracts
from Platos Apology, Laches, and Gorgias, and Xenophons Memorabilia, and the new German
commented translation of the Apology by Rafael Ferber (2011). On the trial and related issues see
Austin (2010), Bettany (2010), Beys (2010), Samad (2011), Van Harten (2011), Yonezawa (2012b),
and Ralkowski (2013).

22 Alessandro Stavru

equivalence of virtue and happiness and that of the dependence of happiness on the pos-
session of virtue. Christopher Bobonich sticks to the former: he maintains that Socrates
holds a radical form of rational eudaimonism, according to which external circumstances
(such as bad luck) can neither disrupt nor influence the agents happiness.82 Rationality,
i.e. knowledge of what is good and bad, is therefore the only possible criterion for taking
practical deliberations concerned with others in the way that most conduces to ones own
happiness. Terry Penner insists on the fact that according to Platos Socrates every action
is generated by the desire for happiness, that is of what is best for me. This happiness is,
however, not absolute, i.e. the maximum possible happiness anyone could ideally have,
but the maximum of happiness as is available in a given situation, i.e. a practicable
happiness.83 Such practicability depends on the knowledge of what is virtue, and such
knowledge is general, being the science of what is good for humans and of the means to
that good .84 These two aspects of Socratic ethics the particular one of the individuals
happiness and the general one of the epistemic means necessary to achieve this happi-
ness harmonize in a paradigmatic way in the Lesser Hippias (372-376), where the
goodness of persons matches with the functional good arising from knowledge of virtue.
Naomi Reshotko sums up this train of thought as follows: 1. knowledge is the determining
factor in eudaimonia, but knowledge is general and eudaimonia individual; 2. the pursuit
of individual eudaimonia implies the concern for others eudaimonia; 3. therefore, eu-
daimonia cannot be pursued at the expense of others: Socratic eudaimonism prompts one
to do what is good for oneself and others.85
The passage of the Lesser Hippias gives a clue to the much-debated issue concerning
whether Socratic ethics should be considered egoistic or altruistic. Sarah Ahbel-Rappe
deals at depth with this topic, showing how Socrates mission consists in bringing his
interlocutors from a state of unreflective egoism into a state of harmony with the good, i.e.
of freedom from self-interest.86 In doing so, Socrates pursues the interest of his interloc-
utors, who he strives to make actually happy. Socrates ethics is therefore based on
friendship, i.e. on his paradigmatic altruism. Ahbel-Rappe points out that this image of a
selfness Socrates, who awakens his fellow citizens to virtue, is not only in Plato:87 we find
it also in Xenophon88 and, as she claims, in Aeschines, whose accounts show up to which
extent the exemplary force of the Socratic paradigm influenced his companions.
A recurrent issue in Socratic ethics is intellectualism.89 A recent book by Brickhouse
and Smith discusses the most common views on the topic, proposing a new interpretation

82Bobonich (2011).
83Penner (2011), 265.
84 Penner (2011), 269.
85 Reshotko (2012) and (2013).
86 Ahbel-Rappe (2010) and (2012). On Socrates altruistic ethics see also B. Coskun, Soc-

rates Dare to Care, paper held at the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy, Athens, August, 4-10,
2013. On Platoss Socrates use of irony and shame to bring about the desire for moral improvement
see Piering (2010).
87 Benson (2013) dwells on the strategy Socrates uses in the Euthyphro to prompt to virtue. In

this dialogue happiness consists in the health of Euthyphros soul, which is fostered by the perfor-
mance of virtuous actions and the avoidance of vicious ones.
88 For an account on Socratic eudaimonia as seen by Xenophon see Vivienne Grays paper in

this volume.
89 Sedley (2013) tackles this issue in books 5-7 of Platos Republic.
The Present State of Socratic Studies: an Overview 23

of it.90 Two main versions of Socratic intellectualism are credited among scholars: 1.
desire is guided by reason, i.e. one desires what he thinks is good (Cooper, Irwin, Santas);
2. desire for the good guides reason, which has to work out the means to achieve such a
good (Penner, Rowe, Taylor). Brickhouse and Smith reject both interpretations, claiming
that appetites and passions are conative psychic powers which resist reasoning. It is
therefore necessary to discipline them through knowledge-driven self-control or punish-
ments. A disciplined condition is necessary for realizing that appetites are only apparent
goods, and for transforming them into weak desires that can be eventually handled by
Ethical intellectualism requires a clear understanding of what Socratic knowledge
actually is, given the manifold disavowals of knowledge we have in the dialogues.91 Is it
an expert knowledge that encompasses epistm, techn and sophia, thus forcing the
interlocutor to become aware of his lack of knowledge (and need to care for himself)?92 Is
such knowledge linked to rhetoric means, i.e. to a refutational strategy that implies a
conditional or reverse irony?93 Or are we dealing with a self-knowledge that is at once
epistemic and ethical, theoretical and aspirational, and concerned both with truth and
personal responsibility?94 Is such knowledge coherently present throughout all of Platos
early dialogues, i.e. can we identify a distinctive Socratic method with a common epis-
temological presupposition?95 Or is it possible to go even further and argue that a theory of
forms is implied already in the early dialogues (e.g. in the Euthyphro)?96
These questions show the variety of angles from which the issue of Socratic
knowledge can be approached. Its interpretations are of interest not only for grasping the
rational aspects of Socrates teaching, but also for tackling other issues of his personality
such as Eros and religion. Conferences have been devoted to Platos depiction(s) of
Socratic Eros97 as well as a major book98 and a variety of essays.99 The conference volume

90 Brickhouse & Smith (2010). The main tenets of the book are summarized in Brickhouse &

Smith (2013). For criticism on them see Rowe (2012).

91 McPartland (2013). See also R. Bett, Socratic Ignorance, paper delivered at the Soprabol-

zano conference mentioned above.

92 Van der Vaeren (2011). On Socratic protreptic see Boghossian (2011), Moore (2008) and

(2011), and Rider (2011).

93 On refutation see Doyle (2010), Ambury (2011), McPherran (2012a), and Collobert (2013).

On irony see Melissa Lanes thorough account, which covers evidence not limited to Plato (2011),
and Vasiliou (2013), who discusses Vlastos, Nehamas and Ferrari.
94 See the books by Jeremiah (2012) and Christopher Moore, Socratic Self-Knowledge in

Classical Philosophy and Literature (manuscript under review; with chapters on Heraclitus, the
Sage/Delphic Inscription, and Greek Tragedy, Aristophanes Clouds, Xenophons Memorabilia 4.2,
Alcibiades I, Phaedrus, Charmides, Philebus, and Protagoras). See also Moore (2012c), (2013), and
How to Know Thyself in Platos Phaedrus, Apeiron (forthcoming). Cf. also Rowe (2011).
95 Cf. Benson (2011) and (2013), Doyle (2012), Wolfsdorf (2013).
96 Prior (2013). See also Martha Beck, The Socratic Way of Life vis-a-vis the Theory of Forms

(paper given at the aforementioned SAGP conference at Fordham University), where the focus is on
the autobiographical passage of the Phaedo.
97 Johnson & Tarrant (2012), featuring the papers from a conference held in Newcastle, Aus-

tralia, December 4-6, 2008, and Tulli (2013), containing the provisional versions of the papers given
at the IPS conference in Pisa, July 15-20, 2013.
98 Belfiore (2012).

24 Alessandro Stavru

edited by Marguerite Johnson and Harold Tarrant deals with Socrates as Lov-
er-Educator, the focus being mainly on issues related to the Alcibiades I.100 Last summer,
the 10th IPS conference was devoted to the Symposium, with more than a hundred papers
on a wide range of topics dealing with Platos different accounts of Eros.101 The book by
Elizabeth Belfiore dwells on the role erotic art plays in Socrates multi-stage examination
and protreptic programme. Socrates erotik techn has five interrelated components: 1.
Erotic desire; 2. Admission of ignorance; 3. Desire for wisdom; 4. Socrates claim to be
expert in erotic issues (deinos ta ertika); 5. Commitment to teaching others to pursue
wisdom. Belfiore deals with Alcibiades I, Lysis, Symposium, and Phaedrus, and shows in
detail how Socrates erotic art is connected with philosophical practice.
A link to rational speculation is evident also in Socratic religion. 102 Mark McPherran
examines Socrates religious beliefs showing how they were integral to his mission of
moral examination and rectification. Drawing on previous studies, 103 McPherran suggests
that Socrates merged his religious commitments with those he derived from rational
speculation. By doing so, he reshaped the traditional beliefs of his time in the service of
philosophy. The result was a rational theology as we find in Plato, which was later inher-
ited by philosophies such as the Stoic.104 Socratic religion also has, however, non-rational
aspects, as John Bussanich demonstrates. Socrates had plenty of religious experiences
99 De Luise (2012), Pmias (2012), Sheffield (2012), and Obdrzalek (2013). See also D.

Lindenmuth, Platos Lysis: The Beginning of Socratic Philosophizing paper delivered at the above
mentioned SAGP conference .
100 Johnson & Tarrant (2012), with contributions by M. Johnson, The Role of Eros in Im-

proving the Pupil, or What Socrates Learned from Sappho; D. Blyth, Socrates and Models of
Love; V. Wohl, The Eye of the Beloved: Opsis and Eros in Socratic Pedagogy; R. Ramsey,
Platos Oblique Response to Issues of Socrates Influence on Alcibiades: An Examination of the
Protagoras and the Gorgias; Y. Kurihara, Socratic Ignorance, or the Place of the Alcibiades I in
Platos Early Works; J. Mintoff, Did Alcibiades Learn Justice from the Many?; A. Hooper, The
Dual-Role Philosophers: An Exploration of a Failed Relationship; E. Benitez, Authenticity,
Experiment or Development: The Alcibiades I on Virtue and Courage; M. Sharpe, Revaluing
Megalopsuchia: Reflections on the Alcibiades II; H. Tarrant, Improvement by Love: From Aes-
chines to the Old Academy; F. King, Ice-Cold in Alex: Philos Treatment of the Divine Lover in
Hellenistic Pedagogy; A. Taki, Proclus Reading of Platos Skratikoi Logoi: Proclus Observa-
tions on Dialectic at Alcibiades 112d-114e and Elsewhere; F. Renaud, Socrates Divine Sign: From
the Alcibiades to Olympiodorus; N. Morpeth, The Individual in History and History in General:
Alcibiades, Philosophical History and Ideas in Contest; E. Baynham & H. Tarrant, Fourth-Century
Politics and the Date of the Alcibiades I.
101 The Proceedings of the Pisa conference collect papers on various issues concerning Platos

Symposium (Tulli [2013]). The main topics dealt with are The Ethics of Eros: Eudaimonism and
Agency, Method Knowledge and Identity, Reading the Symposium: Text and Reception, The
Frame Dialogue: Voices and Themes, Phaedrus and Pausanias, Eryximachus, The Realm of the
Metaxy, Agathon, Literary Form and Thought in Aristophanes Speech, Diotima and the Ocean
of Beauty, Eros, Poiesis and Philosophical Writing, The Picture of Socrates, Philosophical
Writing and the Immortality of the Soul, Eros, Psyche, Eidos, Eros and Knowledge, The Ethics
of Eros: Life and Practice, Reading the Symposium: Themes and Literary Tradition, The Lan-
guage of Mysteries, Alcibiades and Socrates (of particular interest as to Platos account of Soc-
rates personality), and Ascending the Ladder of Love.
102 This link is most evident in Socrates account of teleology, on which cf. the contribution of

Fulvia de Luise in this volume.

103 McPherran (1996).
104 McPherran (2011) and (2013).
The Present State of Socratic Studies: an Overview 25

(God-given madness, prophecy, the Delphic oracle, the daimonion, natural dieties, Ap-
ollonian and Dionysian experiences) that influenced his arguments. 105 Indeed, it is im-
portant to note the peculiarity of them. Anna Lnnstrm106 has shown that the uniqueness
of Socrates relationship with the divine 107 characterizes not only his personal beliefs, but
also his moral theology. Divine knowledge plays a pivotal role in his ethics as well as in
his educational programme.108 Such knowledge is based on his experiences, i.e. not on
what he actively thinks and does, but on what happens to him. The most evident case
here is that of the daimonion,109 a notion which survives many years after Socrates, be-
coming of utmost importance in Neoplatonism.110

Concluding remarks
A complex picture emerges from this survey. We have seen that in the past years
Socratic studies have been characterized by a variety of topics and approaches. Skepticism
as to the solvability of Socratic problem is still the main trend in scholarship, as Lou-
is-Andr Dorion and Robin Waterfield have recently pinpointed.111 Another major trend is
that followed by Thomas Brickhouse and Nicholas Smith. In accordance with Gregory
Vlastos, they claim that a certain amount of relevant Platonic dialogues feature a uni-
tarian view of Socrates philosophy that remains consistent throughout these texts. This
textual basis should provide a solid ground for investigating the main traits of Socrates
thought such as moral psychology, motivational intellectualism, and so forth.112
The present overview bears testimony of yet another trend, which is becoming more
popular in the past years. Its main claim is that the philosophy of Socrates is indeed
beyond our grasp, but that his personality, i.e. his way of living, behaving, and dealing
with others, can be reconstructed through an intertextual work on parallel passages in the
105Bussanich (2013). On Socrates beliefs in the Phaedo cf. Kamen (2013).
106Lnnstrm (2011), (2012) and (2013). See also her paper delivered at the Fordham SAGP
conference: On behalf of Euthyphro: A less rationalistic understanding of piety.
107 We owe to the Comics accounts of hidden aspects of Socratic religion: Albrile (2012).
108 Layne (2010), Senn (2012), and P. Michaelides, Silence: The Religious Proof of Socrates

Wisdom in Platos Apology, paper held at the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy, Athens,
August, 4-10, 2013.
109 See the studies of Jedrkiewicz (2011), Kenny (2013), and Margagliotta (2013), which pro-

vide an overview on the main issues related to the topic.

110 Two books appeared recently on the Neoplatonic interpretation of Socrates daimonion:

Timotin (2012) and Margagliotta (2012). Cf. also De Vita (2011). On Socrates in Hellenistic Phi-
losophy see Long (2011a).
111 Dorion (2011) claims that the historical Socrates is out of reach, and that every recon-

struction has therefore to deal with the different Socrateses of tradition, i.e. the Aristophanic, the
Platonic, the Xenophontic and the Aristotelian. Waterfield (2013) follows a more radical path
which had already been trodden by Montuori (1974): as the extant sources do not allow a safe
reconstruction of the philosophy of Socrates, we must rely on the historical evidence about him, i.e.
the different reports we have on the political background of his trial.
112 Cf. chapter 1 (Apology of Socratic Studies) of Brickhouse & Smith (2010), 11-42. Chris-

topher Rowe (2012) rejects the idea of a division between Socratic and non-Socratic dialogues:
for him, Plato remained a Socratic throughout his work which entails that the whole Platonic corpus
yields texts that are relevant for reconstructing Socrates thought. We find a coherent application of
this principle in Boys-Stones & Rowe (2013), where passages of late dialogues (such as the Laws) are
displayed as testimonies of Socrates thought.

26 Alessandro Stavru

Comics, the Sophists, and the first-generation Socratics. Livio Rossetti has shown that a
number of texts refer to a clearly recognizable Socratic character, whose communica-
tional strategies are represented in a unitarian way throughout the Skratikoi logoi. Ros-
setti labels these strategies as macro-rhetorical: they are similar to the rhetorical ones of
the Sophists, as they involve the emotions of the interlocutor and are aimed at changing his
mind; but they are also different from them, as they have no doctrine to convey, being
limited to freeing the interlocutor from his certainties. These traits of a Socrates in action,
who does things with words through psychagogic, protreptic, and maieutic means and
does not impart any wisdom, enable us to draw an intuitive portrait of his personality.
What we have here is, according to Rossetti, a criterion for distinguishing the historical
Socrates from the Socrates spokesman of Plato.113
This reference to the historical Socrates has been, since Olof Gigons seminal book,
a taboo.114 A remarkable feature of recent studies is its comeback. We find this expression
in Giovanni Cerris account of the parallel passages on Socratess confrontation with
contemporary physiologia; we spot it in the title of Andreas Patzers collection of essays,
whose aim is only one: to acquire knowledge about the historical Socrates115. But we
find it implied also in several essays of the present volume, such as those of Aldo
Brancacci, Franco Trabattoni, and Michel Narcy. Recent works on the way of life of
Socrates116 seem to support this trend, as well as studies on various aspects connected with
his uniqueness117 and outward appearance.118

113 Rossetti (2011), 219. This book spawned a vast discussion, of which the issue nr. 30/2 (2012)

of the Mexican journal Nova Tellus bears testimony (80 pages of it are a comment on Rossettis
114 Gigon (1947).
115 Patzer (2012), 3.
116 Cooper (2012), 24-69; T. Robinson, Socrates and Plato on Philosophy as a Way of Life,

paper delivered at the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy, Athens, August, 4-10, 2013.
117 See e.g. Stavru (2013) and David J. Murphy, By the Goose, By the Rooster. Socrates Other

Unusual Oaths, paper given at the SAGP conference, Fordham University, October 11-13, 2013.
118 E.g. A. Stavru, Socrate: la kalokagathia del filosofo, chapter in Stavru (2011), 99-129. On

Socrates physiognomy see also the papers given at the 37th meeting of the Sokratische Gesellschaft
(April 20-21, 2013): Matthias Steinhart, Ein Bild von Sokrates and Eva Maria Kaufmann, Nur die
Weisen knnen tun, was sie begehren? Facetten der Sokrates-Ikonographie. Cf. also the papers
delivered at the IPS conference in Pisa (July 15-20, 2013): Wei Liu, The Ugliness and Beauty of
Socrates: Portraits of Socrates in the Clouds and the Symposium, and Andrea Capra, Transcoding
the Silenus: Aristophanes, Plato and the Invention of Socratic Iconography.
Introduzione al pensiero politico di Antistene

Aldo Brancacci
Universit di Roma Tor Vergata

Il catalogo degli scritti di Antistene trasmesso da Diogene Laerzio costituisce la pi

importante testimonianza di cui disponiamo per determinare con una certa chiarezza il
perimetro e lampiezza del mondo filosofico e intellettuale del Socratico e per cogliere
gli interessi teorici costitutivi del suo pensiero. Se si esamina la struttura del catalogo,
che riproduce gli estremi di unedizione erudita delle opere antisteniche, non difficile
comprendere come lestensore del catalogo stesso, che molto probabilmente da identi-
ficare con uno Stoico vissuto nel II o nel I secolo a.C.1, abbia inteso suddividere la pro-
duzione letteraria che aveva di fronte secondo un piano predeterminato, corrispondente a
una precisa partizione della filosofia di Antistene. Dopo il primo tomo, dedicato agli
scritti di genere e di contenuto retorico, i tomi dal secondo al quinto raggruppano le
opere di contenuto etico e politico; il tomo sesto e parte del settimo gli scritti logico-
dialettici; la seconda parte del tomo settimo i ; i tomi ottavo e nono comprendono
a loro volta i , tra i quali spiccano, per numero e per importanza, gli scritti di
critica omerica; infine il decimo tomo, in funzione di appendice, raggruppa gli
. Considerando il rilievo della dimensione morale nella filosofia di
Antistene, estremamente probabile che trattazioni di contenuto etico, comprendenti
probabilmente anche estensioni in senso politico, abbiano potuto essere presenti anche in
altre sezioni, oltre quella specificamente dedicata a tale ambito, della produzione lettera-
ria antistenica. Ci non toglie che i titoli raccolti nei quattro tomi centrali presentino un
interesse particolare, sia per la specificit del loro tema, sia per il loro elevato numero,
sia infine perch tra essi sono compresi alcuni scritti che, gi particolarmente noti
nellAntichit, sono anche quelli di cui un maggiore numero di frammenti ci stato
Dallesame dellintitolazione degli scritti, e, soprattutto, dalla ricognizione delle te-
stimonianze che li riguardano, possiamo appurare che contenuto politico avevano almeno
i seguenti dialoghi:

1 Sulla giustizia e sul coraggio, Protreptico primo, secondo, terzo [

, , ];
2 Sulla legge o Sullo stato [ ];
3 Sulla legge o Sul bello e sul giusto [ ];
4 Ciro [];

1 Cf. Patzer (1970), 127.
30 Aldo Brancacci

5 Ciro o Sulla regalit [ ];

6 Aspasia [];
7 Menesseno o Sul comando [ ];
8 Archelao o Sulla regalit [ ].

Si tratta di un numero molto alto di scritti, che non trova riscontro nellattivit di al-
cun altro Socratico, e che anche sotto questo rispetto colloca Antistene in una posizione
privilegiata rispetto agli altri Socratici. Costoro, inoltre, sembrano essersi occupati cia-
scuno di un ambito teorico specifico e determinato: dialettico-ontologico Euclide di
Megara, etico Aristippo, etico anche Fedone di Elide, ed etico-letterario Eschine di Sfet-
to. Antistene mostra invece di aver sviluppato tutta una variet di ambiti filosofici, ricon-
ducibili al patrimonio concettuale socratico o desumibili dal contesto filosofico coevo,
dedicando numerosi scritti specifici a ciascuno di essi. Vale la pena rilevare che egli
stato autore di sette scritti di carattere retorico, di almeno dieci scritti di contenuto etico,
di otto dambito politico, di undici di contenuto logico-ontologico-dialettico, di tre scritti
di carattere escatologico, di due di contenuto fisico, cio teologico, di diciotto rientranti
nellambito della critica letterario-musicale e omerica, nonch di altri scritti di contenuto
etico registrati nel decimo tomo del catalogo.
Se moltissimi di questi ambiti teorici non trovano riscontro, come si accennato,
nellattivit degli altri Socratici, il rilievo conferito alla riflessione su temi dordine poli-
tico accosta invece, sotto questo profilo, Antistene a Platone. Del resto, una testimonian-
za di Ateneo, la cui fonte il di Erodico, accomuna decisamen-
te Platone e Antistene sotto questo rispetto. Il grande erudito antico ci trasmette la pre-
ziosa informazione che, per i due filosofi, ad Atene non ci sarebbe un buon consigliere,
un generale assennato, un sapiente degno di credito, un poeta giovevole al bene comune,
unassemblea popolare capace di prendere decisioni ragionevoli: solo Socrate, per i suoi
due discepoli, avrebbe avuto tali capacit 2. Poich una simile testimonianza implica,
ovviamente, una conoscenza estensiva dei dialoghi, per noi invece perduti, di Antistene,
e la raffigurazione di Socrate che vi era contenuta, essa per noi della massima impor-
tanza. La testimonianza inoltre assai rilevante in quanto mostra come, sotto il profilo
tematico, i dialoghi platonici e i dialoghi antistenici potessero essere accostati, e come
molti temi fossero a entrambi comuni: nella fattispecie, temi politici, cospiranti a una
critica della classe politica, delle istituzioni politiche specificamente democratiche, dei
poeti, svolta dal Socrate antistenico, come anche, nel registro di pensiero che suo pro-
prio, dal Socrate platonico.
I pi antichi testimoni del pensiero di Antistene Isocrate, Senofonte e Aristotele
permettono poi di fare unulteriore considerazione, relativa, questa volta, alla ricezione,
presso i contemporanei, del pensiero del Socratico. Senza poter entrare qui in dettagli,
baster osservare che per Isocrate Antistene essenzialmente un dialettico, come risulta
in particolare dalle testimonianze contenute nel Contro i sofisti e nellElogio di Elena3;

2 Athen. V 220e-f (= SSR I C 17 = Herodicus fr. 4 Dring): [sc.

Platoni et Antistheni] , ,
, , . Su questa testimonianza, cf. Vassallo
(2013), nota 132.
3 Sulla testimonianza isocratea su Antistene rinvio a Brancacci (1990), pp. 97-104 e (2011a).
Introduzione al pensiero politico di Antistene 31

un dialettico, ma anche un filosofo morale, egli per Senofonte, sul cui pensiero non
solo etico, ma anche politico, peraltro, Antistene ha certamente esercitato un influsso
(basti pensare a tutto quanto si scritto circa i rapporto tra la Ciropedia e gli scritti anti-
stenici dedicati a Ciro)4; a sua volta Aristotele cita nella Metafisica Antistene e la sua
scuola su questioni dordine logico-ontologico, e nei Topici lo presenta come filosofo
famoso per una sua caratteristica tesi logico-dialettica5. Queste testimonianze non con-
sentono, beninteso, di trarre deduzioni impegnative circa i termini in cui fu percepita dai
contemporanei la personalit intellettuale e filosofica di Antistene: troppi tasselli ci man-
cano della ricezione di Antistene, come di altri Socratici, perch le si possano assumere
altrimenti che come sguardi parziali gettati su una superficie che resta per noi fondamen-
talmente oscura6. Di certo, linteresse verso laspetto politico dellopera antistenica e-
merge in piena luce nella generazione immediatamente successiva a quella di Antistene:
da un lato con lo storico Teopompo, che fu deciso ammiratore dellopera antistenica7,
dallaltro, nellambiente accademico, con Eraclide Pontico. Il primo si ispirato alle
trattazioni dedicate da Antistene a Ciro e a numerosi altri personaggi, onde Arnaldo
Momigliano ne trasse argomento per mettere in luce il contributo assicurato da Antistene
alla nascente biografia8, laddove il secondo ha utilizzato lAspasia antistenica per trarre
notizie circa personaggi della vita politica ateniese del secolo precedente9.
In epoca successiva, il pensiero antistenico passa tutto intero al vaglio delle grandi
scuole ellenistiche: cinismo, stoicismo e anche epicureismo. Il pensiero politico, in parti-
colare, trover eco di trattazione di speciale momento in et imperiale, svolgendo il suo
influsso su tutti quegli autori, appartenenti alle tradizioni cinica e stoica, ma anche indi-
pendenti da queste, interessati al grande tema della regalit, alla determinazioni delle
virt del re ideale, allopposizione, cos importante nel pensiero politico antico, tra re e
tiranno. Ma anche al di l di questa tradizione, il rilievo che nelle opere antisteniche
potevano avere temi e riferimenti dordine politico gi solidamente attestato in et
4 Per le relazioni tra Antistene e Senofonte, questione sulla quale sarebbe qui impossibile dare

indicazioni bibliografiche, rinvio alla nota di Giannantoni (1990), vol. 4, pp. 209-222.
5 Per la testimonianza aristotelica su Antistene rinvio a Brancacci (1990), 227-262.
6 Del resto, basta pensare ai riferimenti presenti nella Repubblica di Platone alla citt di por-

ci, nei quali si scorta una allusione ad Antistene, per indurre alla cautela, e meditare sulla limita-
tezza delle nostre conoscenze.
7 Cf. Diog. Laert. 6.14 (= SSR V A 22 = 115 F 295 FGrHist II B p. 600). Su Teopompo segua-

ce delle dottrine logico-ontologiche di Antistene, nella sua operetta Contro linsegnamento di

Platone, cf. Brancacci (1993a), 44-50. Per linflusso esercitato da Antistene su Teopompo in campo
etico-politico cf. Hirzel (1892), e Momigliano (1931).
8 Cf. Momigliano ([1971]1974), 50: Dietro di loro [= Platone e Senofonte] sta la personalit

problematica di Antistene, pi anziano, di cui, se fosse meglio conosciuto, potrebbe facilmente

risultare loriginalit e la forza del contributo alla biografia. Oltre a scrivere due dialoghi su Ciro,
che possono aver influenzato la Ciropedia di Senofonte, Antistene redasse un libro (forse un dialo-
go) su Alcibiade. Vi erano contenuti certamente dei particolari sulla vita di Alcibiade, soprattutto i
suoi rapporti con Socrate. Si esagera a descrivere questopera come una biografia di Alcibiade,
come fece Mullach nei Fragmenta Philosophorum Graecorum; ma essa contribu alla sua biografia.
Antistene scrisse anche un attacco contro gli uomini politici ateniesi in generale, che inevitabilmen-
te era pieno di particolari biografici. N dobbiamo dimenticare che Teopompo, il primo storico che
diede largo spazio alla biografia, era un ammiratore di Antistene, di cui lod labilit, e che dichiar
capace di conquistare chiunque per mezzo dei suoi piacevoli discorsi (Diogene Laerzio 6.14).
9 Cf. Dittmar (1912), 1-17.
32 Aldo Brancacci

ellenistica. Ci emerge in particolare da alcune note testimonianze di Ateneo, il quale

conosce i dialoghi antistenici, ed anche in grado di citarne degli stralci, e la cui fonte
molto antica: Erodico il Crateteo, grammatico del II sec. a.C., successore di Cratete di
Mallo, autore di un , e da identificarsi con lErodico altrove
detto di Babilonia10. Da queste testimonianze apprendiamo che il Politico di Antistene (e
la bont dellinformazione anche rivelata dal fatto che Ateneo ha cura di rilevare che
tale scritto era un dialogo) conteneva una di tutti i demagoghi di Atene senza
eccezione, e che una analoga requisitoria era levata specificamente contro il retore Gor-
gia nellArchelao11.
Poich il Politico titolo che non trova riscontro nel catalogo laerziano degli scritti,
si ipotizzato, ma senza fondamento, che esso corrisponda al Sulla legge o Sullo stato
del terzo tomo12. Questa ipotesi non tiene conto del fatto che politikos logos espressio-
ne corrente nella tradizione letteraria antica per indicare un discorso che interessa i
cittadini, per cui semmai pi corretto identificare tale Politico (che non va certo inteso
come titolo antistenico) con uno dei Protreptici, sia perch sappiamo con certezza che
anche questi scritti erano dialoghi13, sia, inoltre, perch proprio il carattere di un discor-
so rivolto ai cittadini ha il lungo estratto-parafrasi da uno scritto antistenico conservato
da Dione Crisostomo, estratto che la massima parte degli studiosi ha identificato appunto
come proveniente da uno scritto di Antistene e in particolare da uno dei suoi Protrepti-
ci14. In ogni caso, allanalisi di questo testo che dobbiamo volgerci per cogliere, innan-
zitutto, quel nesso tra etica e politica che alla base della riflessione politica di Antiste-
ne, e che fornisce la migliore via di accesso per accostarsi ad essa.
Allinizio di tale lungo estratto, Dione stesso ammette apertamente che il discorso
che si appresta a riferire non suo, ma che si tratta di un logos antico, pronunciato da
un certo Socrate, un uomo che non cess mai, ovunque e di fronte a chiunque, di sgridare
gli uomini, e di declamare, nelle palestre, nel Liceo, nelle botteghe, nelle piazze, come
un deus ex machina15: e questa immagine grandiosa di Socrate, esemplata su quella
metafora teatrale diffusa nel circolo socratico, e particolarmente sviluppata, come altrove
ho mostrato, da Antistene16, limmagine che nella storia degli studi stata chiamata,
peraltro non senza ragione, del Socrate cinico, ma che per scrupolo di esattezza storica
dovremmo chiamare piuttosto del Socrate antistenico. Alla sua fonte, Dione si riferisce
del resto fin dallinizio, quando, dopo aver riportato le parole su Socrate sopra citate, e
aver paragonato Socrate stesso a un deus ex machina, subito aggiunge: come qualcuno
ha detto ( )17.
Nella storia degli studi, si pensato da parte di molti che tale estratto fosse desunto
dallArchelao di Antistene, basandosi in particolare sulla menzione del re Archelao di
Su Erodico cf. Dring (1941). Cf. anche Brisson (1993).
Cf. Herodic. ap. Athen. V 220d (= SSR V A 204 e 203).
12 Cf. Chroust (1957), 281 n. 822; Decleva Caizzi (1966), 101; Patzer (1970), 113.
13 Cf. Diog. Laert. 6.1 (= SSR V A 11).
14 Impossibile dare qui tutte le indicazioni bibliografiche, delle quali si trover una ricca rasse-

gna in Giannantoni (1990), vol. IV, 350-353. Pi recentemente, anche Moles (2005) sottolinea la
discendenza antistenica di Dio Chrysost. orat. 13.30.
15 Dio Chrysost. orat. 13.14 (= SSR V A 208).
16 Cf. Brancacci (2002).
17 Cf. Dio Chrysost. orat. 13.14 (= SSR V A 208).
Introduzione al pensiero politico di Antistene 33

Macedonia che Dione fa in chiusura e a suggello della sua citazione; ma a mio giudizio
pi probabile che la fonte di Dione sia uno dei Protreptici. Ci rivelato dalla natura
stessa dellestratto, che un protreptico alla filosofia, come evidenzia, in modo chiaris-
simo, la dichiarazione finale di Dione:
E, parlando in questo modo, egli esortava i suoi ascoltatori a prendersi cura di porre mente alle
sue parole, e darsi alla filosofia: infatti egli sapeva che ricercando questo essi non avrebbero
fatto altro che filosofare. Infatti, ricercare e ambire a diventare uomo di compiuta virt non
altra cosa che filosofare. Tuttavia, egli non impiegava spesso questo termine, ma li spingeva
semplicemente a ricercare come diventare uomini virtuosi18.

Lestratto serbato da Dione rivela inoltre immediatamente di essere tratto da un dia-

logo, perch, dopo aver riportato una lunga allocuzione iniziale di Socrate, Dione ha cura
di riassumere in qualche riga il contenuto della replica o obiezione che nel dialogo gli era
rivolta appunto da un interlocutore, o forse da pi dun interlocutore. Ora, costui nomi-
nato come qualcuno dei politici o dei retori19, il che ci fa pensare che con Socrate in
questo dialogo discutessero almeno uno o due rappresentanti di queste categorie, senza
che ci sia possibile, naturalmente, identificarli. Ed era molto probabilmente questa situa-
zione dialogica che consentiva e originava quella requisitoria contro i demagoghi ateniesi
di cui ci parla Erodico presso Ateneo. Sempre riferendoci a siffatta struttura drammatica,
non possiamo non pensare alle analoghe costruzioni prospettate in vari dialoghi platoni-
ci, in tutta una variet di situazioni e contesti: dallexetasis degli uomini politici ateniesi
compiuta da Socrate nellApologia, ai tre grandi interlocutori sofisti di Socrate nel Gor-
gia, e ancora al giudizio espresso sugli uomini politici ateniesi nel Menone e naturalmen-
te al dialogo con Trasimaco e a tutto il confronto con la cultura della nuova generazione
influenzata o segnata dalla sofistica condotto dal Socrate platonico nella Repubblica.
Lallocuzione iniziale celebre, e merita di essere citata:

Dove vi lasciate sospingere, uomini? Ignorate che non fate alcuna delle cose necessarie, pre-
occupandovi delle ricchezze e procurandovele in ogni modo, cos da averne in grande quantit
e lasciarne ancora di pi ai vostri figli? Eppure voi tutti allo stesso modo avete trascurato pro-
prio i figli, e prima ancora voi stessi, loro padri, non avendo saputo trovare n una forma di
educazione n una regola di vita, idonea e giovevole agli uomini, istruiti nella quale potranno
usare le ricchezze rettamente e giustamente, non in modo dannoso e ingiusto, e trattare senza
danno non solo voi stessi (cosa che considerate pi importante delle ricchezze), ma anche i fi-
gli, le figlie, le mogli, i fratelli, gli amici, e che permetterebbe anche a voi di usarle rettamente
per essi20.
18 Dio Chrysost. orat. 13.28 (= SSR V A 208):

[ ]
. ,
19 Dio Chrysost. orat. 13.23 (= SSR V A 208).
20 Dio Chrysost. orat. 13.16 (= SSR V A 208): , ,

, ,
, ,
, [], [] ,
, .
34 Aldo Brancacci

Lesordio del discorso conservato da Dione, ma solo lesordio, anche citato nel
Clitofonte, dove vale a caratterizzare in modo emblematico i modi e i contenuti del magi-
stero socratico21, anche se lautore del Clitofonte se ne avvale per mostrare tutti i limiti di
quellinsegnamento, che, esaurendosi nella protreptica, si mostra poi incapace di precisa-
re in modo chiaro e rigoroso che cosa sia la giustizia, ma solo capace di indirizzare ad
essa. Questo particolare prova la grande popolarit dellimmagine di Socrate veicolata
dal Protreptico di Antistene e, appena pi indirettamente, anche la sua sostanziale atten-
dibilit storica, perch non c motivo di pensare che Antistene mettesse in circolazione
una immagine di Socrate che non corrispondesse a quella reale. Al riguardo, importante
ricordare la dichiarazione di Alcibiade nel Simposio platonico, l dove il giovane affer-
[] quando si ascolta te [= Socrate] o i tuoi discorsi ( ) riferiti da un altro
( ), anche se chi li riferisce molto inetto, li ascolti donna o uomo o ragazzo, ne
restiamo colpiti e posseduti22.

Questo passo prova che discorsi di Socrate potevano essere ripresi e recitati, proba-
bilmente in forma rielaborata, dai suoi amici e pi intimi compagni, talch non affatto
da escludere che almeno questo incipit cos celebre e caratteristico del Protreptico di
Antistene riproduca una movenza dei logoi propri del Socrate storico.
In ogni caso lattacco del logos protreptico ci appare costruito su temi e parole
dordine centrali nel magistero antistenico: il tema dellignoranza (agnoia), la svaluta-
zione e anche il biasimo delle ricchezze, il motivo del retto uso (orth chrsis), e del
retto uso delle ricchezze in particolare (chrsis tn chrmatn), il valore della paideia e
dellasksis, lopposizione tra virt e vizio (giustizia/ingiustizia, retto/dannoso), il valore
dellhikanon, cio della competenza, e naturalmente la critica delleducazione tradiziona-
le23. Tutto ci espresso con quel tono insieme severo e appassionato che, almeno nei

21Cf. [Plat.] Clitoph. 407a9-d2. infondata la presunzione che il lungo estratto riportato da
Dione derivi dal Clitofonte, come ritengono alcuni autori. solo lesordio del discorso riportato da
Dione, infatti, che combacia con lesordio del Clitofonte stesso. Il resto del discorso di Socrate
citato nel Clitofonte prosegue poi per altra strada, e daltra parte del tutto diverso dal Clitofonte il
seguito (molto pi lungo) del discorso citato da Dione. Stando cos le cose, molto pi corretto
concludere che Dione Crisostomo e il Clitofonte si riferiscono entrambi al Protreptico di Antistene,
costituendo due rami indipendenti della stessa tradizione. Del resto, lipotesi estrema che Dione
abbellisca e sviluppi liberamente lincipit del Clitofonte, si scontra con la grande omogeneit e
coerenza dellestratto, e con il fatto che Dione, allinizio e alla fine di esso, delimita con chiarezza
la sua citazione (cf. i paragrafi 14 e 28), rinviando anche, con lo di orat. 13.14, alla sua
fonte. E tutto ci, senza ancora parlare del riferimento della vittoria di Conone a Cnido del 394,
che, come faceva notare Dmmler, seguendo Usener, rivela traccia sicura di uno scritto antico: cf.
Giannantoni (1990), vol. 4, 350.
22 Plat. symp. 215d3-6: ,

, ,
23 Per lopposizione tra epistm/altheia e doxa, cui connessa quella tra sophia e amathia,

cf. rispettivamente Isocrat. adv. soph. 4 (= SSR V A 170) e il trattato Su lopinione e la scienza
(Diog. Laert. 6.17), e Ulixes 13 (= SSR V A 54). In particolare sul biasimo dellamathia, considera-
ta come meghiston kakon, cf. Antisth. Ulixes 13. Per la svalutazione e il biasimo delle ricchezze cf.
Stob. 3.10.41 (= SSR V A 80); Xen. symp. 3.8; Plutarch. maxime cum princ.philos. diss. 3 p. 778b-c
(= SSR V A 81); Xen. symp. 4.34-44 (= SSR V A 82). Per il motivo della chrsis (del logos, dei
Introduzione al pensiero politico di Antistene 35

Protreptici, ma molto probabilmente non solo in queste opere, doveva essere proprio del
Socrate antistenico. Anche per questa ragione interessante notare come Platone,
nellApologia, miri a correggere questo ritratto di Socrate, attribuendo al filosofo una
grazia, una benevolenza, e un tono urbano, che sono interamente in linea con la sua
propria rappresentazione del maestro, certo allo scopo di contrapporre il suo Socrate a
quello di Antistene. Nel seguente passo, che una chiara riformulazione dellincipit del
Protreptico antistenico, Socrate dichiara che finch avr vita non cesser di filosofare e
di esortare chiunque tra i suoi concittadini egli incontri, dicendogli come al solito:
O ottimo tra gli uomini, tu che sei Ateniese, cittadino della citt pi grande e pi illustre per
sapienza e per potenza, non ti vergogni di prenderti cura delle ricchezze per accumularne il
massimo, della reputazione e degli onori, e di non preoccuparti della intelligenza, della verit e
dellanima, perch diventi la migliore possibile? E se qualcuno di voi protester e affermer di
averne cura, non lo lascer andare subito e non me ne andr, ma lo interrogher, esaminer,
confuter e, se mi pare che non possegga la virt, ma lo affermi soltanto, lo rimproverer di
avere scarsissima stima di ci che vale moltissimo e molta di ci che vale pochissimo24.

Lespressione dicendogli come al solito (29d6) conferma come questa affabula-

zione fosse propria del Socrate storico, e come di essa Antistene e Platone abbiano offer-
to ciascuno una formulazione diversa nei toni, ma con una enorme quantit di temi co-
muni, nella sostanza: lo mostra anche il seguito dalla pagina dellApologia, dove ritorna
tra laltro la contrapposizione tra la cura del corpo e delle ricchezze e quella dellanima,
tema presente nel Protreptico, ma anche altrove attestato per Antistene25. Altro particola-
re, che non deve sfuggire, che il Socrate di Antistene si rivolge cumulativamente agli
Ateniesi e alla massa degli uomini i quali vivono dimentichi delle verit etiche fonda-
mentali, coerentemente con la fondamentale distinzione antistenica, che passer poi allo
stoicismo e al cinismo, tra saggio e uomini comuni, tra spoudaios e phauloi26, laddove il

nomi, delle cose e della conoscenza) cf. Porphyr. schol. ad Od. 1 (= SSR V A 187), lo scritto
Sulluso dei nomi (Diog. Laert. 6.17), e i passi citati in Brancacci (1990), 45 n. 6 (e sul tema del
retto uso, che da Antistene passa agli Stoici, si veda, per questi ultimi, Bnatoul [2006]). Per il
valore dellhikanon, cf. Aiax 4, e le considerazioni di Histad (1948), 101-102, e per il principio di
competenza quanto ho scritto in Brancacci (1990), 153-158. Per il valore della paideia si ricordi il
trattato Sulleducazione e sui nomi (Diog. Laert. 6.17), il frammento, serbato da Epict. diss. 1.17.12
(= SSR V A 160), che conserva la dichiarazione programmatica per cui principio, o fondamento,
delleducazione filosofica lesame dei nomi, nonch Isocrat. adv. soph. 1 (= SSR V A 170). Per
lasksis cf. PKln 66 II 2 (= CPF, Antisthenes 1 T) e Stob. 2.31.68 (= SSR V A 163). Per la critica
delleducazione tradizionale, e la prospettiva filosofica propria di Antistene, cf. Themist.
p. 43 Mach (= SSR V A 96), e su ci, e tutte le tematiche connesse, mi permetto di rinviare a
Brancacci (2005).
24 Plat. apol. 29d6-30a2: , ,

, ,
; ,
, ,
, , ,
25 Cf. in particolare Xen. symp. 4.34-44 (= SSR V A 82); Diog. Laert. 6.8 (= SSR V A 114);

Clem. Alex. strom. II xxi 130,7 (= SSR V A 111).

26 Per la teoria del sapiente di Antistene, cf. Brancacci (1990), 114-117.
36 Aldo Brancacci

Socrate platonico si rivolge al singolo uomo, al singolo Ateniese, cio al suo interlocuto-
re, coerentemente alla teorizzazione del dialeghesthai offerta da Platone stesso nella sua
reinterpretazione del philosophein socratico27. Infine, anche la terna di valori phronsis-
altheiapsych simpone allattenzione, perch molto probabilmente una riscrittura
platonica della terna epistm-phronsis-altheia che Antistene pone in bocca al suo
Socrate in un frammento, che molto probabilmente tratto dallArchelao28: anche in
questo caso le distinzioni sono significative, perch il termine epistm ben coerente
con linterpretazione in senso positivo e dogmatico del magistero socratico offetta da
Antistene, nonch con la sua positiva teoria del sophos, mentre invece non sarebbe stata
coerente con linterpretazione fondamentalmente aporetica che Platone offre di Socrate
nellApologia, e, soprattutto, con la sua programmatica dichiarazione di non sapere; il
termine che Platone impiega psych, un termine particolarmente importante nellApo-
logia, e non solo in essa, e che riceve unevidenza speciale, peraltro, anche in Antiste-
ne29; ma anche in questo modo resta, in quella terna di concetti, un fondo, spesso e signi-
ficativo, comune ai due filosofi, che simpone allevidenza.
Nel seguito del suo discorso, il Socrate antistenico passa in rassegna tutti i grandi
valori e le grandi esperienze culturali propri della citt di Atene, e tutti i grandi eventi
che ne hanno percorso la storia, per farne la critica, e per delineare e contrario la propria
riforma della paideia e della vita politica. Innanzitutto egli mette in luce linettitudine
delleducazione tradizionale, fondata sulla ginnastica, sulla lettura dei poeti e sulla musi-
ca, a giovare alla polis. Inutilit che si appalesa nellassemblea, quando i cittadini si
riuniscono per deliberare intorno alle cose della citt, e dove non questione di lettura di
poeti, di abilit musicali, o di perizia ginnica, posto che la vita in societ richiede uomi-
ni buoni, capaci di condurre rettamente gli affari pubblici e privati, obiettivo che
leducazione tradizionale manca completamente. Il punto culminante dellesortazione di
Socrate quello in cui egli rivolge agli Ateniesi la raccomandazione a

conoscere ci che giovevole a voi e alla vostra patria, in che modo vivere legalmente, giu-
stamente e in concordia la vita sociale e politica (
), senza comportarvi ingiustamente e cospirare luno contro laltro30,

pur essendo, egli, consapevole che gli Ateniesi non hanno mai appreso la necessit di
tutto ci, e a questobiettivo non si sono mai applicati, e che anche nel tempo presente
esso non li affatica minimamente31. A questa parte del discorso di Socrate corrispondono
ben noti temi altrimenti attestati per Antistene: la svalutazione del grammata mantha-

27E per essa rinvio a Giannantoni (2005).
28Cf. Themist. 34.10-35.9 Mach, e, sul passo, Brancacci (2010), 104-105.
29 Cf. Xen. symp. 4,34-44 (= SSR V A 82); Stob. II 31,68 (= SSR V A 163); Epiphan. adv. hae-

res. III 2,9 (III 26) (= Dox.Gr. p. 591,35-38) (= SSR V A 107): Stob. III 14,17 (= SSR V A 131).
30 Dio Chrysost. orat. 13.19 (= SSR V A 208): []

31 Cf. Dio Chrysost. orat. 13.17-19 (= SSR V A 208).
Introduzione al pensiero politico di Antistene 37

nein, per un verso, e, sul fronte etico-politico, il grande valore accordato allhomonoia32,
il positivo riconoscimento, che differenzia Antistene dal cinismo, del nomos e della
partecipazione alla vita sociale e politica, al politeuesthai, la censura dellingiustizia e
delle cospirazioni reciproche, che sono temi che invece ritorneranno nel cinismo. Sempre
a questa parte del discorso di Socrate, e in particolare alla sua insistenza sulla necessit
di un retto funzionamento della vita della polis, corrisponde poi la critica di Antistene del
sistema politico democratico ateniese, sia per le procedure di affidamento delle cariche
mediante sorteggio, sia per larbitrio delle decisioni, sia per il suo egalitarismo; a ci
Antistene contrapponeva limportanza del nelle cose politiche, la necessit
che lamministrazione dello stato sia affidata al sophos, e limportanza della stessa legge
della virt33. E anche in questo caso possibile registrare un patrimonio concettuale
comune al Socrate antistenico e al Socrate platonico, nonch alcune significative conso-
nanze: basti pensare allesaltazione del principio di competenza, che percorre tutti i co-
siddetti dialoghi socratici di Platone, alla polemica contro la doxa tn polln del Critone,
e alla fondazione etica del tema politico, che ben visibile sin dai primi dialoghi di Pla-
tone, in particolare in uno scritto programmatico quale lApologia di Socrate.
Eppure, prosegue Socrate in Dione, ogni anno gli Ateniesi assistono alle rappresen-
tazioni tragiche alle Dionisie, e compiangono le sventure che colpiscono gli eroi: tuttavia
essi non hanno mai riflettuto al fatto che tali sventure non colpiscono mai luomo povero,
luomo comune, e nemmeno luomo inesperto di educazione musicale e letteraria, ma i
grandi della terra, i ricchi, i potenti; la lezione della tragedia, se si riflette alle vicende di
Tamiri e di Palamede, che a nulla servono la soavit della musica e la multiscienza, ch
anzi la hybris di cui si gonfi Tamiri attir su di lui la vendetta delle Muse, e il generoso
dono del sapere da parte di Palamede agli Achei non gli imped di essere messo a morto
da costoro, una volta che essi furono divenuti pi sapienti e pi istruiti. Anche la retorica
non di alcun soccorso, perch non qualificata per deliberare, e tanto meno idonea a
rendere gli uomini virtuosi: daltra parte, se gli Ateniesi hanno tanta considerazione per i
retori, perch non affidano loro lamministrazione della citt, e delle loro stesse sostan-
ze34? Anche a questa parte del discorso di Socrate corrispondono noti e attestati interessi
antistenici, anzi pu dirsi che queste parole ci restituiscono il corrispettivo negativo e
critico di quanto Antistene ha inteso fare con la sua riformulazione della retorica sofistica
in una retorica socratica, razionalmente fondata, e provvista di un ben preciso obiettivo
etico, e, daltra parte, con le sue esegesi letterarie, non solo omeriche, ma estese, ad
esempio, anche a Sofocle35: e proprio a due tragedie di Sofocle, il Tamiri e il Palamede,
sembra riferirsi Socrate nel passo in esame.
32 Per il valore dellhomonoia in Antistene, intesa sia come virt individuale che come virt

politica, cf. Brancacci (2011b). Per il grammata manthanein, cf. testi e discussione in Brancacci
(1990), 85-118.
33 Per una rassegna di questi temi, con indicazione dei testi antistenici relativi, rinvio a

Giannantoni (1990), vol. 4, 403-411. Cf. anche Canfora (2012), 67-73.

34 Cf. Dio Chrysost. orat. 13.20-22 (= SSR V A 208).
35 Antistene compose anche uno scritto, che in Diog. Laert. 7.19 (= SSR V A 137 = Zeno Ci-

tieus fr. 305 SVF I) indicato con lespressione Motto di Sofocle, in cui doveva molto probabilmen-
te discutere e refutare il noto passo degli Aleadi in cui il poeta tragico faceva esprimere un alto
elogio delle ricchezze; il rinvio , credo, a quello che per noi il fr. 88 Radt. Per il verso dellAiace
Locrese di Sofocle citato da Antistene in uno dei suoi scritti, cf. Schol. in Aristoph. thesmophor. 21
38 Aldo Brancacci

A questo punto uno degli interlocutori di Socrate, un politico o un retore, controre-

plicava alle argomentazioni del filosofo osservando che era stata proprio la paideia tradi-
zionale, quella che Socrate disprezza o contesta, a consentire agli Ateniesi di uscire
vittoriosi dallo scontro pi grande della loro storia, quello contro i Persiani, i quali due
volte di seguito organizzarono una spedizione militare con miriadi di soldati contro Ate-
ne e il resto della Grecia la prima volta il re invi lesercito e i generali, la volta suc-
cessiva lo stesso Serse si un a tutto lesercito reclutato in Asia. Il riferimento alle due
spedizioni dei Persiani capeggiate rispettivamente da Dario e da Serse tra il 490 e il 480
a.C. Ebbene, incalza linterlocutore anonimo, gli Ateniesi sbaragliarono tutti costoro, e li
superarono sia nel deliberare che nel combattere. Ora, come avrebbero potuto prevalere
contro un cos grande dispiegamento di forze e un esercito cos numeroso se non fossero
stati superiori per virt (aret)? E in che modo avrebbero potuto essere superiori in virt
se non avessero goduto del migliore sistema educativo (paideia)36?
Lobiezione molto forte, e riflette probabilmente un dato reale delle accuse che
non solo il settore pi tradizionalista della societ ateniese ma anche, per altri versi, lala
della democrazia radicale potevano muovere alla critica socratica di Atene; daltra parte
il motivo per cui la paideia degli Ateniesi allepoca gloriosa delle vittorie sui Persiani
pu solo essere elogiata era stato gi espresso nelle Nuvole di Aristofane per bocca del
(vv. 985 ss.). Lo stesso Socrate, nel rispondere, si guarda bene dal conte-
stare questo fondamento primario della coscienza di s e della propria potenza di Atene,
e preferisce, con strategia accorta, rovesciare laccusa: sono i Persiani che non godevano
di alcuna paideia adeguata, anzi per la verit di nessuna paideia, e che non sono in grado
di deliberare intorno agli affari dello stato: per questo per gli Ateniesi stato facile bat-
terli; a causa della loro assoluta mancanza di paideia, i Persiani non erano che
uninfinita moltitudine di uomini, tutti insensati e infelici37. Questa argomentazione
apre la porta allesposizione di un concetto politico caro ad Antistene, vale a dire che
nessuno di loro era stratego o re38, e che i simboli esteriori del potere, portare la tiara
dritta e sedere su un trono doro, non valgono a rendere re chi ne goda. Dietro questa
affermazione, apparentemente paradossale, c la logica di Antistene, e in particolare la
sua teoria delloikeios logos, che unestrema razionalizzazione dellesigenza socratica
della definizione. Il rigore richiesto alle definizioni, perch possano dirsi realmente tali,
consiste nel fatto che esse colgano realmente loggetto cui sono riferite, identificandone
con precisione la qualit propria. Ci significa che alla nozione di re, poniamo, o a quella
di stratego, delle quali entrambe Antistene si era occupato39, o a qualsiasi altra di cui si
parli, devono competere solo e unicamente determinati attributi, considerati coessenziali
alla nozione in esame, con esclusione assolute di tutte le note che contraddicano alla
(= SSR V A 196): lo scoliaste fa notare che Antistene, come Platone, attribuiva questo verso non a
Sofocle, ma a Euripide; e per Platone cf. Resp. 568a (e si veda anche Theag. 125d). Per la retorica
di Antistene rinvio a Brancacci (1996).
36 Cf. Dio Chrysost. orat. 13.24-26 (= SSR V A 208).
37 Cf. Dio Chrysost. orat. 13.24 (= SSR V A 208).
38 Dio Chrysost. orat. 13.24 (= SSR V A 208).
39 Per il tema del regno cf. Porphyr. schol. ad Od. 1 (= SSR V A 187); per i caratteri del re e

del tiranno cf. Xen. symp. 4.36-37 (= SSR V A 82); Epict. diss. 4.6.20 et alii (= SSR V A 86);
Arsen. p. 502.13-14 et alii (= SSR V A 87); Aelian. var. hist. 2.11 (= SSR V A 16); Xen. symp. 4.6
(= SSR V A 186), e, su tutti questi temi, mi sia consentito rinviare a Brancacci (1992).
Introduzione al pensiero politico di Antistene 39

coerenza logica della nozione considerata. Se il re non saggio, amante delle fatiche, se
egli non il pi buono degli uomini, il pi coraggioso, il pi giusto, il pi amante dei
suoi simili, invincibile da ogni travaglio e da ogni desiderio40, egli re non affatto, e a
nulla vale che egli sia detto re, a nulla vale che possieda diademi scettri e tiare. E si
osservi che alla medesima logica risponde lasserzione che i Persiani non possiedono
alcuna paideia: se la paideia non fondata razionalmente, e Antistene sappiamo la
fondava sull , paideia essa non affatto. Del resto, fa notare
Socrate, le alterne vicende degli scontri tra Persiani e Ateniesi mostrano che, come in
una lotta tra due lottatori inesperti, i quali prevalgono ora luno ora laltro non per espe-
rienza () ma per puro caso ( ), non fu questione di paideia, nella
finale vittoria di Atene, cos come, prosegue ironicamente, non erano diventati migliori
nel canto e nella lotta, cardine delleducazione tradizionale, quando in tempi posteriori,
allepoca di Conone, vinsero, contro Sparta, la famosa battaglia di Cnido del 394 a.C. Va
ancora notato che il riferimento alla e lopposizione tra esperienza e caso vanno
intesi come esemplificazioni del principio socratico di competenza; il che richiama alla
mente il ricorso del Socrate platonico al motivo della pura immediatezza di una certa
physis come spiegazione della felicit dispirazione dei poeti, che per non sanno niente
di ci che dicono, nellApologia, e non solo in questo testo, e il motivo della theia moira
che, sia pure in diverso contesto teorico, presente anche in Eschine di Sfetto41.
Lestratto conservato da Dione si conclude con una indicazione compendiosa
dellobiettivo etico dellesortazione stessa: le parole di Socrate mirano a indirizzare
luomo al e a renderlo , e tutta questa parte del suo discorso
combacia, integrandola e completandola, con una testimonianza isocratea su Antistene,
nella quale si precisano i concetti antistenici di scienza () e di virt42. Se, come
molto probabile, il discorso protreptico conservato da Dione deriva da uno dei Protrep-
tici antistenici, e pi precisamente dal Sulla giustizia e sul coraggio, Protreptico primo,
secondo e terzo registrato nel secondo tomo del catalogo laerziano degli scritti, e se,
come io credo, con questo scritto si identifica il Politico citato da Ateneo, nulla di pi
preciso sappiamo dellinvettiva dei demagoghi ateniesi pronunciata dal Socrate antisteni-
co. Di tale invettiva potremmo per forse indovinare il senso basandoci, da un lato, sul
giudizio di Antistene su Pericle, a noi noto43, e dallaltro sulle premesse di tale invettiva,
che Dione ci ha illustrate. La mancanza di scienza di Pericle e degli uomini politici,
desumibile dallAspasia, corrisponde alla degli Ateniesi essi stessi, e la ri-
forma della politica dovr procedere da unetica razionalmente fondata, essendo sostenu-
ta sia da una riformulazione dei principi che reggono il vivere associato, sia da una ri-
40 Cf. Dio Chrysost. orat. 3.39-41, e, su questo testo, Histad (1948), 56-61; Decleva Caizzi

(1964), 60; Giannantoni (1990), vol. 4, 312-313; Brancacci (1990), 80-84.

41 Per il Socrate platonico cf. apol. 22b-c; e cf. il motivo della theia mora in Men. 99e6. Per

Eschine cf. il fr. 11a Dittmar, ex Ael. Aristid. de rhet. 2.61 (= SSR VI A 53).
42 Ho gi svolto questo raffronto in Brancacci (1990), 102-104.
43 Cf. Athen. V 220d (= SSR V A 142); Athen. XIII 589e; Plutarch. vit. Pericl. 24.7-8 p. 165d

(= SSR V A 143); Athen. XII 533c-d (= SSR V A 144). Antistene argomentava in questo scritto,
muovendo dal suo giudizio sui rapporti tra Pericle e Aspasia, e dalla sua concezione
intellettualistica in materia di ers, come Pericle, per la sua condotta, non potesse essere
considerato sophos, e quindi neppure un vero politikos. Su questo scritto cf. Giannantoni (1990),
vol. 4, 323-325; sulla concezione antistenica del piacere e dellers, cf. Brancacci (1993b).
40 Aldo Brancacci

forma della paideia: due altri concetti che, in tuttaltro contesto teorico, ritorneranno in
Platone, confermando lesistenza di un comune retroterra socratico a tali indipendenti
elaborazioni teoriche. Il Socrate storico non ha, secondo ogni verosimiglianza, intrapreso
e costruito la rifondazione etica della politica, ma, tra i Socratici, Antistene che sembra
averlo fatto, come peraltro risulta pi precisamente da altre testimonianze, alla cui analisi
questo contributo pu essere considerato introduttivo, nonch dal mio studio dedicato al
concetto di homonoia in Antistene44, cui pure il presente scritto si collega.

44 Cf. il mio articolo citato nella precedente nota 32, Brancacci (2011b).