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Interim Readings > Holiday Interim: Three Views of Socrates

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message 1: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4511 comments The discussion of War and Peace appears to be wrapping up, so it’s time to announce the interim read that will take us up to the start of Eliot’s Daniel Deronda in January. Keep in mind, however, that some members are still finishing up War and Peace, and that discussion will continue for as long as desired.

This interim is a bit longer than most since it falls on the holiday season. For that reason I’ve selected a few relatively short but related pieces rather than a single short work as is customary. The interim will run in three two-week segments.

The works selected concern the figure of Socrates, and they offer three different perspectives on this seminal thinker. Since Socrates left no writing of his own, we rely on his contemporaries for our knowledge of his life and thought. Our primary source for all things Socratic is Plato, a masterful thinker and writer in his own right. His rendition of the defense speech that Socrates gave at his trial in 399 BCE is one of the best known works in Western philosophy. We will start the interim read with this piece, Plato’s Apology.

The Apology is usually grouped with three other dialogues – a prefatory work called Euthyphro, followed by Apology, Crito, and Phaedo. We don’t have enough time for all four works, but we’ll read Crito, and follow that up with Xenophon’s version of Socrates’ defense speech (also called Apology, but much shorter than Plato’s version.)

The third piece is a comedy that offers a totally different perspective on the figure of Socrates: Aristophanes’ comedy, The Clouds. This is actually the oldest work of the three, and even though it doesn’t directly address the trial of Socrates, it paints a picture of Socrates that is both comical and critical. It may also suggest why Socrates would eventually stand trial for his life.


message 2: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4511 comments The Holiday Interim Schedule:

Nov 27 - Dec 11 Plato: Apology
Dec 11 - 25 Plato: Crito & Xenophon: Apology
Dec 26 - Jan 6 Aristophanes: Clouds

The Readings:


Plato: Apology

http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/apology... (Benjamin Jowett)

http://www.anselm.edu/homepage/dbanac... (Hugh Tredennick)

https://librivox.org/the-apology-of-s... Audio -- Librivox

http://www.thoughtaudio.com/titlelist... Audio -- ThoughtAudio

Plato: Crito

http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/crito.html (Benjamin Jowett)

https://librivox.org/short-nonfiction... Audio-Librivox

Xenophon: Apology

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/t... (O.J. Todd)

Aristophanes: Clouds

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2562/2... (William James Hickie)

https://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/aris... (Ian Johnston)

https://archive.org/details/Comedies_... Audio -- Archive.org


message 3: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments This is going to be a great six weeks, looking at one of the seminal thinkers of Western thought through the writings of several of his contemporaries.

For those who don't have Socrates on their shelf, there are a number of translations available online.

Here, for example, is the Gutenberg version of Jowett's translation of the Apology, with an introduction:
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1656
and of the Crito
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1657
Jowett's 1871 translation of the Dialogues was the standard translation for many years, and is the translation used in the Great Books of the Western World. It is still well respected, but may seem a bit dated in its language.

Here's a translation by Hugh Tredennick
http://www.anselm.edu/homepage/dbanac...
This is the translation from the well respected Collected Dialogues edition edited by Huntington and Cairns, which is the edition I used in college, and so for which I have some fondness.

Here are the Apology and Crito translated by Henry Cary
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/13726

Here is the Perseus site,
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/
which has the Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito in both the Greek and the Fowler translation. I can't get it to accept a direct cite to that page, but if you search for Apology it will come up (once you get there go to the left panel and scroll down through the sections of the Euthyphro until you get to the Apology.)

Here's another version of the Jowett translation with some nice illustrations
http://socrates.clarke.edu/aplg0100.htm

I'm sure there are other translations out there if you care to go look!


message 4: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments I see that I should have waited for Thomas to post the translations he suggests. My bad.


message 5: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4511 comments Everyman wrote: "This is the translation from the well respected Collected Dialogues edition edited by Huntington and Cairns, which is the edition I used in college, and so for which I have some fondness. "

Me too! But I think you mean Hamilton and Cairns. As in Edith Hamilton. It's great fun to look at the notes I wrote in the margins all those years ago. A few of them even make sense.


message 6: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Thomas wrote: "Me too! But I think you mean Hamilton and Cairns."

Oops.

And yes, I'm looking at my marginal notes too as I re-read it. Any marginal note made during a Jacob Klein led seminar of Plato is well worth re-reading!


message 7: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments My thanks to Thomas for organizing and so capably leading this fascinating look at multiple sides of Socrates. I learned a lot both from the readings and from the most excellent discussions. It was the perfect way to bridge the holiday gap.


message 8: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 2456 comments Everyman wrote: "My thanks to Thomas for organizing and so capably leading this fascinating look at multiple sides of Socrates. I learned a lot both from the readings and from the most excellent discussions."

Ditto.


message 9: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4511 comments I wasn't sure if this series of readings was going to work, especially over the holidays, but it did. The level of participation surprised me (pleasantly!) but the high quality of the discussion did not. We should read some more Plato soon.

Thanks again to all who took part.


message 10: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (ElizabethHammond) | 233 comments Thomas wrote: "I wasn't sure if this series of readings was going to work, especially over the holidays, but it did. The level of participation surprised me (pleasantly!) but the high quality of the discussion di..."

I enjoyed this series tremendously. Thank you so much.


message 11: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Did I mention before that next month Coursera will be offering a course (free!) on three dialogues of Plato? Might be a good follow-up to Thomas's selection.

The course will cover Euthyphro, Meno, and the Republic.

For details:
https://www.coursera.org/course/reaso...


message 12: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 856 comments Thomas wrote: "I wasn't sure if this series of readings was going to work, especially over the holidays, but it did. The level of participation surprised me (pleasantly!) but the high quality of the discussion di..."

Thanks for taking this on Thomas! I did do the readings (haven't finished Clouds yet) and would not have otherwise looked at those if this hadn't been going on. Glad I did. Since it was my first reading and others seemed to have been deeper into it, I opted to just read and follow some of the comments rather than get too involved in the discussion. Also, it is great to have these discussions here and open to go back to later.


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