6/14/2019

The Dispassionate Study of the Passions

"Plato’s dialogue Gorgias ends with a long speech culminating in a rousing cry by an aroused Socrates. He is speaking to Gorgias’s student Callicles about his swaggering opinionatedness and their common uneducatedness. The words he uses are neanieusthai, ‟to act like a youth,” to behave like a kid, and apaideusia, ‟lack of teaching,” ignorance. And then he concludes with a condemnation of Callicles’s whole ‟way of life”—tropos tou biou—‟to which you summon me, believing in it”—hōi su pisteuōn eme parakaleis. esti gar oudenos axios, ō Kallikleis—‟For it is worth nothing, Callicles!” My fine 1922 edition of the Gorgias by the classicist Otto Apelt rightly translates the address O Kallikleis, jingling in the Gorgian manner with parakaleis, as ‟My Callicles,” for there is a curious, straining intimacy in Socrates’s peroration. The rest is silence. It is a favorite question of mine to ask our freshmen at St. John’s College, who all read this dialogue, what happened that night at home, when Callicles was, perhaps, by himself."