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Plato Laws 3.680B–C: Antisthenes, The Cyclopes and Homeric Exegesis

  • Lucia Prauscello (a1)

Abstract

In Laws 3.680b–c the Athenian Stranger's positive evaluation of the Cyclopean ‘way of life’ (Od. 9.112–15) is deeply indebted to Antisthenes’ interpretatio Homerica of the Cyclopes as ‘just’ insofar they do not have the need of written law. Antisthenes’ equation of ‘need of law’ with ‘need of written law’ is then contextualized within the unresolved tension, in the legislative project of the Laws, between oral dissemination (‘proems’ to the laws) and the potentially coercive power of the written text. Finally, Megillus’ inept reply to the Homeric quotation by the Athenian Stranger allows us to gain a more nuanced view of the ‘readerly’ dynamics enacted by the internal audience of the Laws.

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* . My sincerest thanks to Giovanbattista D’Alessio, Filippomaria Pontani, Malcolm Schofield and the anonymous JHS referees for their constructive criticism of earlier drafts of this article. Special thanks are also due to the Cambridge B Caucus, under whose auspices this paper began to take form and to Carol Atack for allowing me to read her unpublished Cambridge PhD dissertation. I alone am responsible for what I have written.

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Plato Laws 3.680B–C: Antisthenes, The Cyclopes and Homeric Exegesis

  • Lucia Prauscello (a1)

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