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Platos and aristophanes portrayals of socrates?

I just started school and all ready the first day in i have a assignment.This is for a philosophy class.

The question is
“Contrast Plato’s and Aristophanes’ potrayals of socrates. Give that socrates was put to death by the Athernians, witch of the portrayals do you think is more accurate? Why?”

So i google Plot’s portrayals of socrates and i found nothing. So what are the 2 storys? How do i answer the question?

3 Comments

  • You would want to consider the portrayal of Socrates in Aristophanes’ play `The Clouds’ and contrast that with Plato’s vision of Socrates in his dialogue `Apology’.

    `The Clouds’ is a great comedy by Aristophanes in which he has a character called `Socrates’ who is this bumbling moron who tries to defy gravity by hanging suspended in a cage and who makes all these absurd claims about himself. Aristophanes was a friend of Socrates and he never intended his portrayal of the man in `The Clouds’ to be taken seriously. Aristophanes, after all, was a comic writer – he wrote to get laughs. This doesn’t mean he didn’t have keen insight into what makes human beings so absurd sometimes, he certainly did, but it’d be a big mistake for anyone to conclude that he was going for accuracy in his depiction of Socrates. He was making fun of a kind of philosopher/teacher of the time known as a Sophist and called his character `Socrates’ for reasons we may never actually know. What we do know, though, is that this `Socrates’ character haunted the actual Socrates the rest of his life and, according to Plato’s `Apology’ was a factor in the Athenian jury sentencing Socrates to death. `The Clouds’ was a very popular play and it had a long long `run’ and people came to associate the moronic `Socrates’ character with the real man they would hear talking in the market of Athens.

    Plato, on the other hand, was Socrates’ student and admirer and in his `Apology’ he definitely does try to give an accurate rendering of what his teacher was like. Yes, Plato’s vision of Socrates is no doubt colored by the admiration he had for his teacher but, even so, Plato’s depiction is quite close to another source we have on Socrates, The Memorabilia of Xenophon, in describing how the man spoke and what he valued. We also know that Plato’s depiction of how the courts worked at the time is absolutely accurate and, further, we have the indictment signed by Socrates’ three accusers who are all mentioned in `Apology’. While Plato’s `Apology’ should not be considered a court transcript of the trial (it is, in fact, a construct, a work of literary Art) it certainly could be accepted as an accurate account of the event.

    So check out `The Clouds by Aristophanes and `Apology’ by Plato, remember that Socrates himself never wrote anything, and that the other primary source we have on the man is Xenophon (another of his students) and you should make out fine. Good Luck!

  • You will find it in Plato’s “Socrates’ apology.”

    Aristophanes was a playwright and he wrote a comedy about Socrates’ behaviour. He pokes fun at his stranger life and he carries on many “lies” – mostly public opinions – about Socrates. He depicts Socrates as arrogant and makes the main character of his comedy believe that he is the chosen of the Gods. His character speak to people pretentiously and speak of himself as a wise man.

    Plato, however, describe Socrates as very humble, even acknowledgeing his own ignorance very often. At the opposite of Aristophanes’ Socrates, the main character of Plato’s dialogues is more than likely to be happy if he is shown to be wrong – which never happens in Plato’s dialogue, unless you count the number of times where he review his position, acknowledgeing his error.

    Given that he was put to death and following Xenophon’s and Plato’s account of Socrates, we can assume he was at least partially victim of the slanderer and of the public opinions: when you spend your entire life bothering about showing how ignorants people are, it is very likely to frustrate them and make yourself enemies.

    It is also true nowadays. Look how logically a person should be happy to be shown to be wrong; he should be happy to see his error instead of staying in it. Yet, so many are arrogant and proud of somethign they are obviously not, that if you show how wrong they are, they get angry.

    What is sound is to privilege the idea carried out in the discourse and search for truth, but they rather privilege their ego and do not mind lying to themselves and others. This is the public opinion – almost left unchanged in 2400 years.

    So, you can imagine easily how someone thinking that he is wise, when is shown in front of many of his friends to be an ignorant, gets frustrated.

    Imagine that one gets so angry that he wants to get Socrates put to death, thinking that in contradicting the public opinion and disturbing what he blieved to be wise men and corrupted the young one into following him. Consider that in Athens, the trials where held in public and everyone had a right to vote. The accusator asked for a punishement they believed to be right and they presented their ideas one after the other. Then, the crowd votes and you are condemned or not depending on the crowd… basically, you are condemn or saved by the public opinion – the same thing which Socrates spent his life refuting and showing wrong; the same thing which brought him in front of the court; and, he was not going to lie to them and take these men as wise if they were not…

    What happened is that he was condemned. Once he is condemn, he can ask for a revision of the penalty: he proposes something else than the accusator. Of course, if we follow what Plato says, he proposed that Athens reward him for helping in making the people better persons and, obviously, they were even more frustrated and thought of it as being arrogant. And he was sentenced to death.

    So, to see Plato’s view of Socrates, you need to read:
    -Socrates’ apology
    -The Crito

    You could also read Plato’s Gorgias and Plato’s Protagoras, but you can get a good idea with those two higher.

    For Aristophanes, I do not know if we have the comedy he wrote about Socrates, but you could search.

  • Most of Plato’s works are written as conversations between Socrates and his students, which included Plato. We have nothing left directly by Socrates, only Plato, and a short work by Xenephon. Aristophanes was never a student of Socrates. He does refer to him, though, in one of the comedies.

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