Plato and Myth

Studies on the Use and Status of Platonic Myths


This volume seeks to show how the philosophy of Plato relates to the literary form of his discourse. Myth is one aspect of this relation whose importance for the study of Plato is only now beginning to be recognized. Reflection on this topic is essential not only for understanding Plato’s conception of philosophy and its methods, but also for understanding more broadly the relation between philosophy and literature. The twenty chapters of this volume, contributed by scholars of diverse backgrounds and approaches, elucidate the various uses and statuses of Platonic myths in the first place by reflecting on myth per se and in the second place by focusing on a specific myth in the Platonic corpus.

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Pierre Destrée, Ph.D. (1994) in Philosophy, University of Louvain, is Research Associate at the Fonds Belge de la Recherche Scientifique, and Associate Professor at the University of Louvain. His publications include numerous articles in ancient Greek ethics, and aesthetics. With Brill, he has co-edited (with Ch. Bobonich) Akrasia in Greek Philosophy (2007), and (with F.-G. Herrmann) Plato and the Poets (2011).

Catherine Collobert, Ph.D. (1992) in Philosophy, University of Paris I-Panthéon-Sorbonne is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Ottawa. She has published numerous articles and books in Ancient Philosophy including Parier sur le temps: la quête héroïque d'immortalité dans l'épopée homérique (Les Belles Lettres, 2011).

Francisco J. Gonzalez, Ph.D. (1991) in Philosophy, University of Toronto, is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Ottawa. He has published widely in the areas of Ancient Philosophy and Contemporary Continental Philosophy, including: (ed.) The Third Way: New Directions in Platonic Studies (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005), Dialectic and Dialogue: Plato's Practice of Philosophical Inquiry (Northwestern, 1998), and Plato and Heidegger: A Question of Dialogue (Penn State, 2009).

Contributors: Luc Brisson, Claude Calame, Catherine Collobert, Pierre Destrée, Monique Dixsaut, Louis-André Dorion, Radcliffe G. Edmonds III, G. R. F. Ferrari, Francisco J. Gonzalez, Elsa Grasso, Christoph Horn, Annie Larivée, Christopher Moore, Kathryn Morgan, Glenn Most, Elizabeth Pender, Christopher Rowe, Harold Tarrant, Franco Trabattoni, Gerd van Riel
" Angesichts des steinigen Diskussionsgeländes und der Qualität der Beiträge muss das Fazit zu Plato and Myth lauten: Für jeden, der sich mit Platons Mythen befasst, ist dies ein empfehlenswertes Buch." Christian Schäfer in BMCR 02.11.2012
List of Contributors

Introduction, Catherine Collobert, Pierre Destrée and Francisco J. Gonzalez

Part I. Reflections on the Nature of Platonic Myths

Chapter One. Plato’s Exoteric Myths, Glenn W. Most
Chapter Two. Myth and Interpretation, Monique Dixsaut
Chapter Three. Literal and Deeper Meanings in Platonic Myth, Harold Tarrant
Chapter Four. The Freedom of Platonic Myth, G. R. F. Ferrari
Chapter Five. The Platonic Art of Myth Making: Myths as informative Phantasmata, Catherine Collobert
Chapter Six. Spectacles from Hades. On Plato’s Myths and Allegories in the Republic, Pierre Destrée

Part II. Approaches to Platonic Myths

Chapter Seven. The Pragmatics of ‘Myth’ in Plato’s Dialogues: The Story of Prometheus in the Protagoras, Claude Calame
Chapter Eight. Religion and Morality. Elements of Plato’s Anthropology in the Myth of Prometheus, Gerd Van Riel
Chapter Nine. Whip Scars on the Naked Soul: Myth and Elenchos in Plato's Gorgias, Radcliffe G. Edmonds III
Chapter Ten. The Status of the Myth of the Gorgias, or: Taking Plato Seriously, Christopher Rowe
Chapter Eleven. The Rivers of the Underworld: Plato’s Geography of Dying and Coming-back-to-Life, Elizabeth Pender
Chapter Twelve. Choice of Life and Self-Transformation in the Myth of Er, Annie Larivée
Chapter Thirteen. Combating Oblivion: The Myth of Er as both Philosophy’s Challenge and Inspiration, Francisco J. Gonzalez
Chapter Fourteen. The Myth of Theuth in the Phaedrus, Christopher Moore
Chapter Fifteen. Myth and Truth in Plato's Phaedrus, Franco Trabattoni
Chapter Sixteen. Theriomorphism and the composite Soul in Plato, Kathryn Morgan
Chapter Seventeen. Myth, Image and Likeness in Plato’s Timaeus, Elsa Grasso
Chapter Eighteen. Why is the Timaeus called an eikôs muthos and an eikôs logos?, Luc Brisson
Chapter Nineteen. Why two Epochs of Human History ? On the Myth of the Stateman, Christoph Horn
Chapter Twenty. The Delphic Oracle on Socrates’ Wisdom: A Myth?, Louis-André Dorion

Index locorum
All those interested in Ancient Philosophy (esp. Plato), ancient litterature, and in the multileveled links between philosophy and literature