Without the Least Tremor: The Sacrifice of Socrates in Plato's Phaedo (SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy)
M. Ross Romero
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In Without the Least Tremor, M. Ross Romero considers the death of Socrates as a sacrificial act rather than an execution, and analyzes the implications of such an understanding for the meaning of the "Phaedo." Plato s recounting of Socrates s death fits many of the conventions of ancient Greek sacrificial ritual.
Among these are the bath, the procession, Socrates s appearance as a bull, the libation, the offering of a rooster to Asclepius, the treatment of Socrates s body and corpse, and Phaedo s memorialization of Socrates. Yet in a powerful moment, Socrates s death deviates from a sacrifice as he drinks the "pharmakon" without the least tremor. Developing the themes of suffering and wisdom as they connect to this scene, Romero demonstrates how the embodied Socrates is setting forth an "eikon" of the death of the philosopher.
Drawing on comparisons with tragedy and comedy, he argues that Socrates s death is more fittingly described as self-sacrifice than merely an execution or suicide. After considering the implications of these themes for the soul s immortality and its relationship to the body, the book concludes with an exploration of the place of sacrifice within ethical life."
generating other parts. Rather, an account of the whole, of why things stand forth as being for the best is what is required. What Socrates searches for is a way of giving an account (logos) of generation and destruction as a whole that remains appropriate to the limitations of man but that is also more than logos. Socrates’s search for “the cause of generation and destruction as a whole” seeks a way of expressing a proportion that also exceeds logos. It is noteworthy, then, that Socrates’s own
LEAST TREMOR principle that sustains sacrificial ritual. The exchange does not necessarily enact the whole but merely requires that it be assumed for its operation. Finally, a search for a fitting logos that would take death into account seeks to unravel all sacrificial economies. Said otherwise, a deed (ergon) is the most fitting way of taking vulnerability and human limitation into account. As I will show in chapter 6, the medical practice of triage is one example of this. The search for a
two-headed THE SO-CALLED GENUINE PHILOSOPHERS 115 creature of pleasure and pain. In fact, this account functions in a similar way to the Anaxagorean account of causation critiqued and called into question by Socrates in his own philosophical autobiography. We examined this account in chapter 4. There we saw how parts added to parts and held together by strength, represented by the figure of Atlas, do not work as an account of causation. Here, too, we see an account that is lacking in
he does mention—desires, tempers, and terrors— are the same ones he mentioned in the earlier account as being from THE SO-CALLED GENUINE PHILOSOPHERS 129 the body. One should note that the construction is that the soul acts “as if she were other than they are.” The soul is other than the desires and tempers and terrors, and she acts “as if” she “had a task other than theirs.” What Socrates seems to be searching for is an account of the soul that acts “as if.” It is instructive to think of
and Roman Animal Sacrifice: Ancient Victims, Modern Observers. Edited by Christopher A. Faraone and F.S. Naiden, 55–83. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Nancy, Jean-Luc. 1991. “The Unsacrificeable.” Translated by Richard Livingston. Yale French Studies 79: 20–38. Neer, Richard. 2012. “Sacrificing stones: on some sculpture, mostly Athenian.” In Greek and Roman Animal Sacrifice: Ancient Victims, Modern Observers. Edited by Christopher A. Faraone and F.S. Naiden, 99–119. Cambridge: Cambridge