Imitating the Traditional Gods

Moral Virtues and Cult Practice in Plato’s Laws

In: Mnemosyne
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  • 1 Vilnius University, Institute of English, Romance and Classical StudiesVilniusLithuania
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This paper examines moral virtues and cult practice in Plato’s Laws. It explores the symposium and the chorus and their potential to provide a recognisable cultural setting, in which the Magnesian citizens can test their responses to pleasurable and painful experiences and thus train their moral virtues. The challenge to this reading is to explain what additional input to moral habituation is provided by the religious aspect of these institutions. This paper draws attention to the relationship between the people and the patron gods of the respective institutions. It argues that the cult practices are designed to reflect the virtuous character of the traditional gods, who serve as the ethical role models for the worshipers. In this way, the worship of the traditional gods not only facilitates moral progress by exemplifying the objective of virtuous life, but also gives an egalitarian version of the ideal of godlikeness to its citizens.

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