3 responses

  1. Vlastos is one person who says that Plato’s Socrates is preferable to Xenophon’s because the latter would never have been indicted for impiety.

    “Fortunately there is another consideration that proves a great deal. It is that Plato accounts, while Xenophon does not, for facts affirmed by both and also attested by others. For example: that Critias and Alcibiades had been companions of Socrates; or again: that Socrates was indicted and condemned on the charge of not believing in the gods of the state and of corrupting its youth. Xenophon’s portrait will not square with either of these. Not with the first, for his Socrates could not have attracted men like Critias and Alcibiades, haughty aristocrats both of them, and as brilliant intellectually as they were morally unprincipled. Xenophon’s Socrates, pious reciter of moral commonplaces, would have elicited nothing but a sneer from Critias and a yawn from Alcibiades, while Plato’s Socrates is just the man who could have gotten under their skin. As for the second, Plato, and he alone, gives us a Socrates who could have plausibly been indicted for subversion of faith and morals. Xenophon’s account of Socrates, apologetic from beginning to end, refutes itself: had the facts been as he tells them, the indictment would not have been made in the first place.” (“The Paradox of Socrates,” in The Philosophy of Socrates, 2-3)

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