In its contents as well as discursive strategy, Plato’s Republic occasions a few reflections on the phenomenon of memory. The essay situates the philosophical discourse, along with that of divination and poetry, in the context of the practices of memory and, more broadly, within the sphere of Mnemosune. The figure of the philosopher retains traces of archaic humanity, most notably of the Homeric hero. At the same time, in the Platonic Socrates we discern a transfiguration of heroic heritage, in the direction of a thorough ethical recalibration emphasizing the awareness of mortality, the art of finite life (βίος), and the visionary celebration of life (ζωή) in its excessive and indestructible movement. In this way, at the very heart of the Republic we may heed the cipher and resonance of Dionysus.
H. Diels and W. Kranz ed. byDie Fragmente der Vorsokratiker (Berlin: Weidmann1922) fr. 129. Regarding the connection between the techniques of memory and practices of breathing see M. Detienne La notion de daimon dans le pythagorisme ancien (Paris: Les Belles Lettres 1963) 79–83.