GRECIAN EARNS PLATO’S PLAUDITS; ‘REMAINS’ SILENT

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty — that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
–John Keats, from ODE ON A GRECIAN URN

On this day in February, 399 BC (according to onthisday.com) occurred the fateful trial of the famed Grecian philosopher Socrates, of whom it is said that he didn’t put anything in writing during his lifetime — or even afterward, for that matter. This might lead one to think he was either paranoid or illiterate. By all odes, however, he was neither — otherwise his life/trial/death-by-hemlock would have earned him no esteem….and in theory, the following quotes attributed to Socrates might have been not only recorded by, but credited to, Plato (as well as others Greek to me):

Wisdom begins in wonder.

The unexamined life is not worth living.

To find yourself, think for yourself.

By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.

I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.

But why should Plato and a few of his fellow G(r)eeks get all the credit for handing down what Socrates supposedly said? I may not be quite as ancient as they, but I go back far enough to be able to confide with the utmost confidence that Socrates never denied saying the following:

Wisdom begins in wonder….and ends the same way.

There’s no fool like an old fool. (On the other hand, some of us “old fools” prefer to think of ourselves as misanthropically eccentric seniors.)

It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. (Or, you could just pay your electric bill on time.)

My wife would talk to a wooden Indian. (That’s why I keep a wooden Indian around the house.)

All’s well that ends well. (Well, I don’t know about that….but I suppose if it was good enough for the doomed Socrates, it’s good enough for the likes of Shakespeare and mistermuse.)

THE END

 

 

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9 comments on “GRECIAN EARNS PLATO’S PLAUDITS; ‘REMAINS’ SILENT

  1. linnetmoss says:

    What the long-suffering Socrates actually said about wives, according to Xenophon (Symp. 2.10):
    “If that is your view, Socrates,” asked Antisthenes, “how does it come that you don’t practise what you preach by yourself educating Xanthippe, but live with a wife who is the hardest to get along with of all the women there are—yes, or all that ever were, I suspect, or ever will be?”

    “Because,” he replied, “I observe that men who wish to become expert horsemen do not get the most docile horses but rather those that are high-mettled, believing that if they can manage this kind, they will easily handle any other. My course is similar. Mankind at large is what I wish to deal and associate with; and so I have got her, well assured that if I can endure her, I shall have no difficulty in my relations with all the rest of human kind.”

    These words, in the judgment of the guests, did not go wide of the mark.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Don Frankel says:

    Muse are you saying that Socrates was like Yogi in that he didn’t say all the things people say he said? Or was it just that there was no pen and paper as yet and he didn’t feel like hammering away with a chisel and a piece of stone? He thought it was just to crude.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. mistermuse says:

    Thanks, Linnet — I appreciate your very interesting comment.

    From what I’ve read (admittedly limited) of the writings of Plato and Xenophon re Socrates, Plato’s were the more brilliant/less literal, and Xenophon’s the more prosaic….so, assuming that the latter took fewer or no liberties with Socrates’ words, “What the long-suffering Socrates actually said about wives” was indeed on the mark. However, whatever the “By all means, marry” quote lost in translation, length-and-literatim-wise, it apparently captured gist-wise.

    Like

  4. mistermuse says:

    Don, I think they had papyrus by Socrates’ time, but they definitely didn’t have a Yogi Berra. Too bad, because he was a man for the ages!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. arekhill1 says:

    As our nation undergoes this period of fractious foolishness, Sr. Muse, reflect that it was old fools who elected one of their own as our leader.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. mistermuse says:

    Apparently, they wanted one of their own kind in the White House, Ricardo (notice I said “they” instead of “old fools” because I disavow guilt by association).

    Like

  7. I recall that Socrates called writing “the dead flower of speech.”

    I’m not sure if he was responding to my blog … or maybe he just wasn’t a good gardener?

    In any event, we’re lucky Plato recorded all of Socrates’s wisdom so future humanities students could groan about it in Philosophy 101. I can’t remember quite how they go, but I recall one where Socrates said “Don’t put words in my mouth!” while Plato scribbled away furiously, putting words in his mouth.

    Or something like that. I’m not sure; I didn’t do to well in humanities. Clearly.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. mistermuse says:

    Clearly a Conundrum. I, on the other hand, might be labeled a Punundrum, judging by all the groans my writing seems to induce. It probably has something to do with a prophet being without honor in his own puntry (I know that’s not exactly what Jesus said, but Jesus, give me a break).

    Liked by 2 people

  9. literaryeyes says:

    Good one: Wisdom begins in wonder….and ends the same way. And lots of confuciousness in between.

    Liked by 1 person

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