The Sacrifice of Socrates

The Sacrifice of Socrates: Athens, Plato, Girard

Wm. Blake Tyrrell
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 210
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  • Book Info
    The Sacrifice of Socrates
    Book Description:

    When Athenians suffered the shame of having lost a war from their own greed and foolishness, around 404 BCE the public's blame was directed at Socrates, a man whose unique appearance and behavior, as well as his disapproval of the democracy, made him a ready target. Socrates was subsequently put on trial and sentenced to death. However, as René Girard has pointed out, no individual can be held responsible for a communal crisis. Plato'sApologydepicts Socrates as both the bane and the cure of Greek society, while hisCritoshows a sacrificial Socrates, what some might consider apharmakosfigure, the human drug through whom Plato can dispense his philosophical remedies. With tremendous insight and satisfying complexity, this book analyzes classical texts through the lens of Girard's mimetic mechanism.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-338-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xx)

    Squire Sancho may “make out a bloke on a donkey, brown like mine, with something shiny on his head,” but his master espies the enchanted helmet of the Moorish king Mambrino and has to have it for his own.¹ With it, Don Quixote can become a knight. Rather, he desires to become a knight like his model, Amadis of Gaul, and since his model desires the helmet, he desires it, for he imitates his model’s desires as he imagines them. Girard calls this dynamic “mimetic desire.”² Without ado, Don Quixote descends upon the fellow, a barber from a nearby village,...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Mimesis, Conflict, and Crisis
    (pp. 1-40)

    In the Greek contest system, all men share, relative to their social position, the roles of subject and model, for all desire to possess all the goods of society for themselves, and anyone can be an object of envy. One aristocrat differs little from another, and they all desire the same things, the implements of honor and excellence. When one among them puts his personal worth together with an accomplishment, victory in the Olympic chariot races or prominent leadership in the assembly, for example, he stands as a model that attracts the envy of others. The others, subjects in Girard’s...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Plato’s Victimary Culture
    (pp. 41-72)

    Religious activities were embedded in every aspect of a Greek’s life. Children across Hellas had watched and participated in sacrificial processions as long as they could remember. Processions that led a victim to the god’s altar happened every day. Few thought particularly about them. They were the way of things. Processions consisted of two or three people and an animal victim, a goat, sheep, or cow, or the whole population of the community and a herd of victims. Their purpose was always the same: to escort the animal calmly to the altar. Sacrificers kill the victim. In this, they are...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Aristophanes’ Ready Victim
    (pp. 73-90)

    When the Athenians returned to their city after the retreat of the Persians in 479 BCE to find its walls, temples, and buildings razed, they wanted what any Greek would want: walls. Not all desire is mimetic.¹ A hungry or thirsty person is not imitating the desire of another for food or drink. Thus protected by city walls, Greeks could negotiate or endure or sally forth; otherwise, they were exposed. Tension with Sparta, whose military might and village life negated the need for walls, dominated the first months of the return (Thuc. 1.90–93). The Athenian Themistocles went to Sparta...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Foundation Murder
    (pp. 91-150)

    Like other Greeks, Athenians valorized themselves through the τιμή. paid them by others.Tîmê,the value placed upon or respect given to someone, is usually translated as “honor.” The more a man was valued because of his deeds in the fighting, the more he was honored by the community with gifts and prizes of war. Although times had changed appearances, Athenians of Socrates’ day still lived by the values of the Homeric warrior’s competitive culture.¹ Failure in any form for whatever reason brought a loss of face before others, for such men valued the opinion of others about themselves above...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 151-174)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 175-184)
  11. Index
    (pp. 185-189)