Author: Alex Priou

In his two chief works, the Theogony and Works and Days, Hesiod treats the possibility of providence. In the former poem, he considers what sort of god could claim to gives human beings guidance. After arriving at Zeus as the only consistent possibility, Hesiod presents Zeus’ rule as both cosmic and legalistic. In the latter poem, however, Hesiod shows that so long as Zeus is legalistic, his rule is limited cosmically to the human being. Ultimately, Zeus’ rule emerges as more human than cosmic, and thus unable to fulfil the cosmic demands of piety. Hesiod’s presentation thus begs, without thematically posing, the question of how human beings ought to live. Accordingly, Hesiod’s theological analysis, and not his theogony (or, implicit cosmogony or cosmology), sets the stage for the inquiries of the early Greek philosophers, and so political philosophy as a whole.

In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought
Author: Alex Priou

This paper considers the unity of Socrates’ twin apparitions of sophist and statesman, alluded to in the Sophist. Examining how these apparitions are at work in the Theaetetus, I argue that the difficulty is that of combining the nurturing or educative role of the statesman with the sophist’s practice of refutation. Beginning from Socrates’ shift in appearance early in the dialogue, I argue that the cause of this shift is Theaetetus’ character, that this forces the general problem Socrates has in mind into a particular form, and that Theaetetus never fully grasps this fundamental, intractable problem. Consequently, the problem’s intractability shows why Socratic education is always refutative, and so combines the statesman and sophist’s respective arts. And because Theaetetus is the cause of Socrates’ shift, the philosopher’s appearance is always an ironic reflection of his interlocutor’s opinions: the dialogue the Philosopher would have to be named the Theaetetus.

In: The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition
Author: Alex Priou

Abstract

At the start of Plato’s Minos an anonymous comrade argues that the variability of law according to time and place undermines the claim that it conveys moral truth. But by the end he has accepted Minos as the greatest of lawgivers because of his education by Zeus. How does he manage to slide so quickly from the moral laxity of conventionalism to the moral absolutism of divine revelation? Guided by this question, the author considers how the two divergent parts of the Minos form one whole, and so what Plato suggests is the common basis to conventionalism and piety. Plato’s Minos thus ends up having an unexpectedly close relationship to his Euthyphro.

In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought