The Philosopher's Song: The Poets' Influence on Plato (Greek by Kevin M. Crotty

By Kevin M. Crotty

The Philosopher's tune explores the advanced and fruitful relation among the nice poets of Greek tradition and Plato's invention of philosophy, specifically as this bears on Plato's remedy of justice. the writer exhibits how the poets contributed to shaping the improvement of Plato's considering during the process his philosophical profession.

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One of the names for epic within epic itself is θέσπις ἀοιδή—“divine song” (H. H. 43 But the divinity of the song consists not only in its source—the Muses—but in its themes as well: the poet sings of the “works of men and gods” (Od. 338; cf. Theogony 100–101; H. H. 44 The “works of gods” includes theogonic poetry, of course, but also the words and deeds of the gods within epic. Narrative, in other words—at least as practiced by the poets and above all by Homer—was not only a linear, “horizontal” account of things that happened.

Lloyd-Jones sought only to establish the more modest claim that Zeus’s conduct comported with justice—not that he actively pursued justice solely and for its own sake. Ultimately, then, his position is not so very different from that of Dodds, who wrote that Zeus in the Iliad is not concerned with “justice as such,”—that is, solely and for its own sake. Dodds, Greeks and the Irrational, 32. 39. , Friedrich-Alexander-Universität (Erlangen, 1955); C. W. Macleod, Homer: “Iliad,” Book XXIV (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 1–6.

But once philosophers have expounded the true nature of justice, the unsophisticated view reflected in Homer and the poets should be unobjectionable and harmless. So it might seem. Plato, however, disagreed and believed that the mimetic poets in fact posed a very serious threat to the philosophical polis. In this chapter, I look at the climactic encounter of Achilles and Priam in Iliad 24, in order to show that Plato was, from his philosophical perspective, right to criticize this scene. To show why this is so, however, we must give full weight to Lloyd-Jones’s and Allan’s insights into the moral framework of the poem.

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