Lysias and Socrates in Plato’s Phaedrus
|Starts:||17:00 27 Apr 2017|
|Ends:||18:30 27 Apr 2017|
|What is it:||Seminar|
|Organiser:||School of Arts, Languages and Cultures|
Classics & Ancient History Research Seminar.
Towards the beginning of Plato’s Phaedrus, Phaedrus reads to Socrates a speech attributed to Lysias (230e-234c). In the speech, as Phaedrus explains, a ‘non-lover’ attempts to persuade his handsome listener that ‘favours should be granted to a man who is not in love rather than to one who is’ (227c). Socrates offers criticism and revision of Lysias’ speech. He first presents his own version of a seduction along these lines. He then rejects the position altogether, offering in its place his great speech in praise of erotic madness. Lysias’ speech is often treated as no more than an example of specious professional rhetoric present in the Phaedrus for the sake of the criticisms of rhetoric it provokes. I will suggest an alternative reading, in which Lysias’ speech serves as a failed attempt at philosophical, specifically Socratic, rhetoric. This reading grants particular significance to the attribution to Lysias, signalling as it does an interest not just in rhetoric, but in Lysias’ status as someone who writes speeches for others. By raising the question of how one can write a speech in another’s voice, let alone that of Socrates, Lysias’ speech is significant to the dialogue’s wider discussions of the nature of writing, philosophical rhetoric and self-knowledge.
Role: Lecturer in Classical Philosophy
Organisation: University of Manchester
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