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Journeys in Plato's Phaedrus: Hermias' Reading of the Walk to the Ilissus

Baltzly, D ORCID: 0000-0003-2469-6199 2020 , 'Journeys in Plato's Phaedrus: Hermias' Reading of the Walk to the Ilissus', in JF Finamore and CP Manolea and SK Wear (eds.), Studies in Hermias’ Commentary on Plato’s Phaedrus , Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 7–24.

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Abstract

Plato's Phaedrus is a dialogue of journeys, a tale of transitions. It begins with Socrates' question, 'Where to and from whence, my dear Phaedrus?' and con­cludes with the Socrates' decision, 'Let's go' (sc. back into the city from whence they've come). In the speech that forms its centre-piece Socrates narrates another famous journey-the descent of the soul into the body and its re­ascent to the realm of Forms through erotic madness. It is not too implausible to suppose that Plato himself saw fit to relate his powerful images of the human soul's fall and re-ascent by dramatic means that highlight the movement from one place to another. You don't have to be a Neoplatonist to think that this paral­lel between the movements of the teller in the drama and the psychic dynamics in the tale told is no coincidence.It is, however, characteristic of Neoplatonic readings of Plato's dialogues to take such a modest interpretive hypothesis and apply it to matters of detail in the text with relentless systematicity. Most-but by no means all-modern readers regard the resulting edifice as a kind of 'hermeneutic over-kill: While we all recognise that Plato was a very thoughtful writer who was capable of investing his dialogues with all manner of significant asides and revealing remarks, Neoplatonic readings often locate great significance in things seem­ingly very insignificant. They systematically connect elements within a dia­logue, as well as across dialogues, or even read details of the dialogue in relation to texts like the Chaldean Oracles or against the backdrop of the accepted wis­dom about the nature of daimones or astral bodies. Taken as a whole, the result strains credulity-at least for some of us.

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Baltzly, D
Keywords: Plato, Phaedrus, Hermias, journeys,
Publisher: Koninklijke Brill NV
DOI / ID Number: 10.1163/9789004414310_003
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2020 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden

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