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I argue that the conversation in Plato’s Phaedo operates on two levels, and appeals to two different notions of immortality, one temporal (continuing life after death or before birth) and one atemporal (immunity from death, time and all sequential events). Socrates and his friends are concerned about whether the soul will survive beyond the present life, and whether it existed prior to birth. While this looks like a concern about temporal survival, I argue that Plato, as author, is identifying another kind of immortality, proper to the soul alone, as a being outside time, to which 'before' and 'after' do not apply. By examining exactly what is meant by its immunity to death (in a number of senses of ‘death’) and its association with life (in one sense of ‘life’), I consider in what sense the soul could have a kind of atemporal being akin to that which pertains to the Forms, and examine some puzzles about how such a being could enter into temporal experience in conjunction with a sequence of bodies.
This chapter draws on a variety of evidence about the political life of the period, and the Pythagoreans' involvement in it, some from authors concerned with the Pythagorean heritage, and some from historians interested more generally in the cities of southern Italy. For the period before his emigration from Samos, the ancient biographers mention his birth, parentage, upbringing, higher education and research travels. In Dicaearchus' imagination, Pythagoras' influence flowed from a charismatic personality. It has been suggested that age-group assemblies indicate that Croton was a traditional society organized into age-related clubs. In Iamblichus' account, Pythagoras urges women to avoid animal sacrifice, to offer frugal home-baked goods, and to take their offerings to the sanctuary in person. Most scholars think that these writers are confusing the circumstances of several periods of political opposition, which they combine into a single story of the end of Pythagorean control in the region.