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Socrates flight from Delium

Michael Clark

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I love this description of Socrates fleeing the Battle of Delium. It kind of trashes the portrait of the effete Philosopher; even if he was retreating.

The words are of Alcibiades, as recorded by Plato:

"Furthermore, men, it was worthwhile to behold Socrates when the army retreated in flight from Delium; for I happened to be there on horseback and he was a hoplite. The soldiers were then in rout, and while he and Laches were retreating together, I came upon them by chance. And as soon as I saw them, I at once urged the two of them to take heart, and I said I would not leave them behind. I had an even finer opportunity to observe Socrates there than I had had at Potidaea, for I was less in fear because I was on horseback. First of all, how much more sensible he was than Laches; and secondly, it was my opinion, Aristophanes (and this point is yours); that walking there just as he does here in Athens, 'stalking like a pelican, his eyes darting from side to side,' quietly on the lookout for friends and foes, he made it plain to everyone even at a great distance that if one touches this real man, he will defend himself vigorously. Consequently, he went away safely, both he and his comrade; for when you behave in war as he did, then they just about do not even touch you; instead they pursue those who turn in headlong flight." (Plato, Symposium, 220d–221c)

Edited by Michael Clark
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  • 9 months later...

This reminds me of the story of Alan Ginsberg meditating on his blanket in the middle of  a protest riot in downtown Chicago during the presidential election convention (Democratic party). Chicago Police are busting heads, hauling protesters into paddy wagons and Ginsberg is remaining still chanting  Om .  People warned him to leave but he continued holding his space.  

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