The Puzzle of the Pseudo-Platonic Axiochus
Modern Greek Studies Association of Australia and New Zealand
© 2019 the author
Although the Axiochus was already recognised as spurious in antiquity, it enjoyed a significant status along with other spuria in the Corpus Platonicum. However, its arguments seem carelessly cobbled together. They are mutually inconsistent and internally flawed. Scholars have addressed this issue in different ways. Some argue that the Axiochus is irredeemably confused. Others argue that the dialogue belongs to the genre of consolation literature, in which consistency was not expected. More recently, Tim O’Keefe has argued that the dialogue demonstrates the Socratic practice of “therapeutic inconsistency”, showing readers how to use invalid arguments to induce comforting beliefs. The inconsistencies are best explained, however, as a parody of Hellenistic therapeutic arguments. At the same time, the Axiochus underscores a long-standing Platonic emphasis on thinking critically even in the face of death. This emphasis was demonstrated in the Phaedo by Socrates’ commitment to argument when his interlocutors were afraid for him and themselves. It is demonstrated in the Axiochus by the way Socrates repeatedly encourages Axiochus to consider the arguments he presents. The consoling therapy of the Axiochus, I shall argue, is simply that the practice of reasoning calms fears by setting them to one side.
© 2019 the author.
Axiochus, Socrates, Death
Benitez, R 2019, 'The Puzzle of the pseudo-platonic Axiochus', Journal of Modern Greek Studies (Australia and New Zealand) — Special Issue, pp. 16-35