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Homeric and Socratic Morality (and the Crito)

A look at the dream of Socrates in the Crtio

Amy Antoninka

on 15 October 2014

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Transcript of Homeric and Socratic Morality (and the Crito)

Socrates' Dream
My mother the goddess, silver-footed Thetis
telleth me that two-fold fates are bearing
Me toward the doom of death: if I abide
Here and war about the city of the Trojans,
Then lost is my home-return, but my renown
Shall be imperishable; but if I return to
my dear native land, lost then is my glorious
renown, yet shall my life long endure, neither
shall the doom of death come soon upon me.
(Iliad 9.410-416 Lombardo translation)
To Thessaly or to Phthia?
To the easy (what the many would do) or to the difficult (what the few would choose)?
To a virtuous death or a life of disgrace?
The woman in white
a ship
Fertile Phthia
The third day
"It is of course impossible to give instructions upon the method of arriving at a symbolic interpretation [of a dream]. Success must be a question of hitting on a clever idea, of direct intuition, and for that reason it was possible for dream-interpretation by means of symbolism to be exalted into an artistic activity dependent on the possession of peculiar gifts."
Sigmund Freud, "The Interpretation of Dreams," pp. 129-130
" The most skilful interpreter of dreams is he who has the faculty of observing resemblances. Any one may interpret dreams which are vivid and plain. But, speaking of 'resemblances', I mean that dream presentations are analogous to the forms reflected in water, as indeed we have already stated. In the latter case, if the motion in the water be great, the reflexion has no resemblance to its original, nor do the forms resemble the real objects. Skilful, indeed, would he be in interpreting such reflexions who could rapidly discern, and at a glance comprehend, the scattered and distorted fragments."
Aristotle, De divinatione per somnum II
I thought that a beautiful and comely woman dressed in white approached me. She called me and said:

“Socrates, may you arrive at fertile Phthia on the third day.” (Crito 44a-b)
justice, retribution
Whose reputation is on the line, Socrates' or Crito's?
and Plato's Crito
Elements of the dream
Why begin with a dream?
For according to your argument all the demigods would be bad who died at Troy, including the son of Thetis, who so despised danger, in comparison with any disgrace, that when his mother (and she was a goddess) said to him, as he was eager to slay Hector, something like this, I believe, “My son, if you avenge the death of your friend Patroclus and kill Hector, you yourself shall die; ‘For straightway,’ “ she says, “ ‘after Hector, is death appointed unto thee;”; he when he heard this, made light of death and danger, and feared much more to live as a coward and not to avenge his friends….
(Apology 28b-d)
What does the dream indicate about Socrates?

How does Crito reply? What does Crito's reply say about him?
The Many
The Talking Laws
Justice, Revenge, and Harm
“There are nine hundred and ninety-nine patrons of virtue to one virtuous man…”There is but little virtue in the action of the masses of men.”
Henry David Thoreau
How do the majority act?
Does Crito really think he can convince Socrates to escape?
Who else might Crito and Socrates be performing their drama for?
What's the most important question for Socrates?
“Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.”
"A man who won't die for something is not fit to live. "
Martin Luther King Jr.
An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.
Martin Luther King Jr.
"At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
A man is but the
product of his thoughts
what he thinks, he becomes.
Mohandas Gandhi
An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
Mohandas Gandhi
What's this dialogue about?
•“…neither to do wrong nor to return wrong is ever correct, nor is doing harm in return for a harm done.”
Crito 49b
"No, let our wars rage outward hard against the man
who has fallen horribly in love with high renown.
No true fighter I call the bird that fights at home.
Such life I offer you, and it is yours to take.
Do good, receive good, and be honored as the good
are honored. Share our country, the beloved of god."
Eumenides 864-869
Why does Socrates give a voice to the Laws?
What is the relation between the individual and the law?
What is the relation between the individual andthe state?
“The most important thing is not life, but the good life.”
(Crito 48b)

Homeric Morality v. Socratic Morality
What are the qualities of a Homeric hero?
What are the qualities of a Socratic philosopher?
Crito's Character
What do we know or can infer about Crito?
He is about the same age as Socrates
He is an old friend of Socrates
He has money (and friends with money)
If he has money he probably owns property, and therefore has participated in government in his lifetime
He has influential friends who will harbor Socrates
He is not adept at philosophical argument

How might this influence the dialogue?
Socrates crafts an argument based on politics and doing what is best for the city as a whole – he plays to Crito’s interests
This tells us about the nature of Socratic dialogues in general – the background and interests of the interlocutors often have philosophical importance

word and deed
courage in the face of destruction
devotion to the gods/piety
physical strength and excellence
honor / time
ideal citizen
wealth and property
filial piety
never do wrong!
intellectual power
life examination
piety - Is something pious bc gods love it or do the gods love it bc it's pious?
The Good is before the gods
considers advice wo forfeiting moral principles
"My mother, Thetis, tells me that there are two ways I might die. If I stay here and keep fighting around the city of Troy, I can never go home, but my glory will live forever; but if I return in my ships to my own dear country, my glory will die, but my life will be long and peaceful." (Iliad 9.412-417 Mitchell translation)
bravery, courage, piety, pride( a knowledge of your self worth), honor, wisdom, cunningness, hospitality, sacrificial, survivors, unity, strength, skillful, weight of shields, respect, excellence(virtue),
* Wisdom (Knowledgable, applying it in practice, and finding self-truth.)

* Virtuous
- Love (Support)
- Relational Benefit
- Honor
- Reasonable
- Problem Solving
- Open Minded

* Willful Poverty (Lacking external materials in excess, seperating oneself from what is other than absolutely neccessary.)
Human Wisdom
Self Examination
wealth, birth, hospitality, strength, mentally strong, courage, wisdom, brave, honor, reputation, cleverness, glory, good-looking, loyalty,
brave, wise, honesty, self-examination, discussing virtues, logic, research,
Virtue, Bravery, Cleverness, Honor, Revenge aka "Justice", Fame
Reason, an inquisitive nature, Honesty, Concerned with justice, Loyalty to justice, Justice based on morality, Reputation not highly valued
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