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Recontextualizing Phila: Two Verbal Echoes of Crito’s Argument in the Speech of the Laws in Plato's Crito (2017-2018, 2018-2019)


Publication: 10.58367/NECY.2023.2
Field of study: Classics, Philosophy

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the recontextualization in the ‘speech of the personified Laws’ of two phrases in the argument of Socrates’ interlocutor Crito. We will see that through this recontextualization, these two phrases are (1) invested with a new meaning, and (2) through acquiring this new meaning, disarm the original force of Crito’s words. Since both of these phrases are part and parcel of the ancient Greek ideology of philia, the relation to one’s kin and the obligations and loyalties this entails, this paper will first highlight how Crito’s argument is indebted to philia-ideology, and proceed to show that, whilst upholding the overall importance of philia as loyalty per se, the same phrases become part of a different philia-relation in the Laws’ speech: not between biological parent and son, but between the laws as parents and citizens as offspring.

Keywords: ancient Greek philosophy, Plato, Plato’s Crito, ‘minor Socratics’, historiography of philosophy, Greek popular morality, philia-ideology, rhetoric, legal obligation

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