[lit-ideas] Re: Plato's Platitude

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2007 11:05:55 EST

Thanks to R. Paul for his  coments:
 
re: 'Platon' as "a vulgar nickname in Ancient Greece".
 
 
and too I wonder why the English drop the 'n',  and call him "Plato". Must 
that be because it's the vocative case?
 
R. Paul writes as if he objects my view on three  counts, as premisses 
towards the contrary of my thesis. 
 
First count:
 
     "A child [baby] born around  Plato's 
     time retained the name given  by its 
     [her] father when  it was presented 
     [or introduced, rather than  given] 
     to its male relatives at a  family 
     ritual in the fall of  the year of 
     its birth. 
 
The second count is a hypothetical:



"If 'Platon' means  'broad shouldered,' 
      'flat,' or whatever, it's remarkable 
      that a ten-month-old  child (ten months 
      being longest possible time
      in our reckoning  between birth and 
      the coming of fall)  could exhibit 
      so distinctly those  features allegedly 
      picked out by the 'nickname' Platon. 
      And in fact, this is  nowhere alleged: 
      it is the adult Plato who is thus 
       exemplified in most  of the surviving 
      pieces of sculpture identified as 
      likenesses of him. 
 
The third count is the conclusion in antithesis to my  claim: Roughly:

"'Platon' was not a nickname. Roughly 
       fifty different  Platons have been identified 
       as living in our near  Athens, contemporary 
       with the only Platon who matters. It was a 
       name in its own  right.
 
Counterargument to my relying on  Diogenes:
 

       "Diogenes Laertius is  often cited because 
        he is the only  source who mentions certain 
        persons and  events, and this is, I think, 
        the main reason why he is thought to 
        know what he's  talking about."
 
---- Now to my defense:
 
Diogenes Laertius says that the epitaph on Plato's grave  does not even 
mention the name 'Plato' but his _real_ name,  "Aristocles".
 
The epitaph is bad enough even for Diogenes Laertius to  have the _time_ to 
invent it. It runs:
 
 
"Here lies Aristocles, too great for envy" 
 
In Greek:
 
"Entháde de Aristokláes, phthónos oukh 'epetai. 
 
 
From Liddell-Scott:
 
phthonos , ho.  envy.
 
So I would rephrase the three (or four) important  reservations by R. Paul 
using "Aristocles" instead of "Plato"
 
     "A male baby was born and  named
     "Aristocles" and he retained the 
     name given  by its his father, Ariston, 
     -- his  other, Potone, was also
     present at  the birth -- when it  was
     introduced to his relatives at a 
     'child-warming party' (the  "Aristokleia").
     Aristokles  was born on the 7th day of the 
     month of  Thargelion, during the 88th 
     Olympiad, on the  birthday of Apollo."
     Aristockle's  maternal side was present
     at the  'party', as they held to have
     better  pedigree than the paternal side."

[This accounts, on my view, also  Aristokles' development as a 'gay' person 
who had like *33* male lovers but is  known to have had only *one* affair with 
the 'opposite' sex. Unresolved Oidipus  -- and absent father figure. On top of 
that, Aristokles was the conception of a  sexual abuse. Diogenes tells us:

"Ariston made violent love to Potone" and it was  only with the help of 
Apollo that Ariston left her "unmolested until her child  was born" ("hothen 
katharan gamou phulaxai heos tes apokuneseos"). The verb for  'made violent 
LOVE' 
does not mention Plato's greatest platitude on 'eros' but  it's a short verb 
meaning 'rape'.



"If 'Platon' means  'broad shouldered,' 
      'flat,' or whatever, it's remarkable 
      that a ten-month-old  child (ten months 
      being longest possible time
      in our reckoning  between birth and 
      the coming of fall)  could exhibit 
      so distinctly those  features allegedly 
      picked out by the 'nickname' Platon. 
 
That is explained by the fact that his name was  "Aristokles", a rather 
pretentious name, if you ask him, but natural if you  think it comes from a 
raper 
like "Ariston", who with a name like that ("The  Best") we expect should know 
better. 
 
Diogenes is usually careful with his quotes, and he wanted  to find why 
Aristocles was named Aristocles in the first place. He managed to  find a 
source, 
Alexander in his "Succession of Philosophers" who 'informs us',  writes 
Diogenes, that Aristokles was thus named "after his  grandfather".
 
Now Diogenes does give the genealogical tree  for Aristokles, of noble birth. 
Both genealogies (maternal and paternal) go  back to the Gods -- but I have 
not been able to locate this Aristokles, so, for  the sake of my argument, I 
will place it on the _mother's_ side, but I note that  there is a lot to say 
for 
the contrary view that it was Ariston's father who was  called "Aristokles" 
(which would tipify the stupid male idea that the root  of a name must be 
preserved from one generation to another, "Aristo-",  "Aristo-", "Aristo'". Our 
Aristokles broke the tradition by being  gay. 
 
R. Paul continues:
 
      And in fact, this is  nowhere alleged: 
      it is the adult Plato who is thus 
       exemplified in most  of the surviving 
      pieces of sculpture identified as 
      likenesses of him. 
 
You are inspiring me to sculpt in clay a likness of the  baby --, and we'll 
see his broad-shouldered too. But, I would ascribe Paul's  inability to 
identify a baby as broad shouldered as his own.  
 
I _can_ identify a baby as broad-shouldered. Especially if  they were as 
_broad_ as Plato's obviously were. In any case, I don't need to  prove that 
since 
his name remained Aristokles till his grave, and it was only  from the typical 
rough and rude remark by his 'coach' that he received the name  by which he 
is known by those who Loeb him. 
 
Here is the story of the coach: 
 
"He learned gymnastics under Ariston". 
 
Now beware, this was _not_ Aristokles's father, but 
 
"the Argive wrestler". 
 
The Greek: "egumnasato de para Aristoni to Argeio  palaiste". And here is 
where Diogenes turns interesting since it is a typical  case of what Kripke 
calls 
'rigid necessity of naming'.
 
Plato's baptism thus comes as this. Ariston, his coach,  took him to the 
Isthmian Games, where Aristokles wrestled ("plaisai Isthmi"). 
 
So in a sort of _real_ baptism, where all the negativity  that the 
philosopher was carrying from his father's side, it was his coach (his  new 
'father', 
same name) that erases the previous name and endows the  philosopher (or 
wrestler, for at that time, he was not yet a philosopher) with a  magnificent 
endearing name, "Platon"
 
"aph'ou kai Platon dia ten euexian metonomasthe, proteron  Aristokles apo tou 
pappo kaloumenos onoma, katha phesis Alexandros en  Diadoxais." 
 
"It thus was from his coach, the Argive wrestler, that our  wrestler received 
the name on "Plato" **on account of his robust figure**". Now  in a previous 
post, I posted Timon's pun on "Plato, the broad-shouldered" -- a  redundancy 
if ever there was one. Timon manages to mention "platitude" in the  ENGLISH 
VERSION of both Hicks and Yonge. 
 
Long in his introduction says that the puns in Diogenes  are bad enough for a 
Victorian. But I must be a Victorian because I like them,  and disagree with 
Long. Timon's pun was: 
 
"As Plato placed strange platitudes" 
["hos aveplasse Platon ho peplasmena thaumata eidos"] 
 
where you see the Greek word for 'platitude' is the  neuter, peplasmenon -- a 
reduplication of the root, with a sibilization of the  't' to become 's' 
before '-menon'. 
 
Again when I think of what Plato's Platitude was is the  idea that for every 
noun, n., we can add a -ness suffix and create another. 
 
Diogenes the Hound objected to this. Diogenes Laertius  tells us:

"As Plato was conversing about Ideas, and using the nouns,  'tablehood', and 
'cuphood', Diogenes [The Hound] said  [or 'barked' as I  prefer], "Table and 
cup I see; but your tablehood and cuphood, Plato, I can  nowise see." "That's 
readily accounted for, said Plato, "for you have the eyes  of a dog". 
 
Plato could be rude while lecturing. It was said that on  many an occasion, 
it was Aristotle who would remain in the hall till the very  last. 
 
"Plato could be verbose and waxing poetical." [Much like  Oscar Wilde in 
latter days, I imagine -- not everybody's cup of tea. JLS].  "According to 
Favorinus, when Plato was reading the dialogue Phaedrus or on the  Soul, 
Aristotle 
alone stayed to the end; the rest of the audience got up and  went away." 
 
Hence the idea that Aristotle was the disciple of Aristo-,  sorry, Plato. It 
was one of the few who could stand him!
 
Cheers,
 
JL
  The Swimming Pool  Library
         Buenos Aires, Argentina
 
 
 
 





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