windpower in Hull, Mass.

‘Ever’ as timeless vs. ‘ever’ as ‘ever-onward’

‘Ever’ as timeless vs. ‘ever’ as ‘ever-onward’

The key will be to hunt down the King [think of the king at Tht. 146 a4, basileusei hEmwn].     A medieval MS in the Ashmolean collection at Bodleian Library Oxford carries the name of its author:    ‘Socrates Basileus’.    This name means ‘Socrates the King’.   Possibly we are getting a pointer to a ‘Socrates’ present at the Old Academy.    This would be a man, likely the sometimes named  teacher of Aristotle [=’Socrates !], willing to use the nickname   ‘Younger Socrates’.     Some scholarly puzzles might be solved, if we understood him to be a blood-and-bone real man, writing in the immediate vicinity of both Plato and Aristotle.   A philosopher, a dialectician.    There is a coherent theory which makes him the same Old Academy man who wrote the Epinomis.     Only slightly less compelling is the theory that this same man wrote both the DeMundo and several of the Scholia that come down to us in Euclid’s margins.  These are particularly such Euclid scholia which manifest the identical hypersensitivity to ‘poiein’ words inside mathematics.    But this more extended hypothesis can be left for another time and another site, perhaps

Do you think it possible, or even likely, that certain other puzzles about historical personages at the Old Academy are linked to this one about ‘Socrates the King’ ?   I for one do think this.     One such puzzle was very troubling to the late much-lamented Professor Jacques Brunschwig of the Sorbonne.   He had done a recent Paris edition  of Aristotle’s Topics.    This involved his hunting down the source of the “dialectic” attributed by philosophers of late antiquity to someone called ‘Socrates’.     Oddly enough, Plutarch lists such a Socrates AFTER Plato, not before, and attributes to him a concept of dialectic startlingly incompatible with that of our familiar Socrates.

So severe is the incompatibility of these mutually foreign ‘Socratic’ dialectics that Prof. Brunschwig was provoked to say  “scandaleux”.     Now a Sorbonne scholar is not easily scandalised (less easily, for example, than Oxonian scholar Jonathan Barnes, whose Gallic sensibilities do not sit peaceably with his Anglican).    Why should Chrysippus in Book III of his “On Dialectic” have things so wrong about Socrates and dialectic  ?         After all,  Chrysippus was in a perfect position to know his Old Academy intimately, and all of its various patterns of “Dialectic”.   Perhaps five or six variants of which we today have no remaining trace.   Many of the writings of some latter-day Socrates (living before Chrysippus’s time) may have gone lost, though Chrysippus and Plutarch will not only have these writings, but will have assumed that their readers would have them  too.     Easy for us to dis-ambiguate our various ‘Socrates’s, if so.

One quite special item in evidence:  a tract  from near Plato makes a ghostly appearance entitled “Epi DialektikEs“;  this title is relayed in the margins of a curiously incomplete  Plato ms. now held by the Vatican [called Vaticanus Palatinus Gr. 173], probably copied in the Tenth Century.     With help from the Leonard Polonsky Foundation, this ms. may soon achieve a digital-archived form, available to scholars from Oxford or London or Rome.    In any case, such a title coming from the near-vicinity of Plato [much from Vat. Pal. Gr. 173 seems close to Plato in its origins].      That title, along with the one nearby in the Palatine ms., “Epi Tyrannou“,  calls out for more detailed study.      As to its authority, it it seems to be near to a primary witness.   Near, that is,  to our Tenth Century ms. in Venice,  Venetus    T  .    

Much worth investigating is this:   is it a surviving trace  of a tract from the Old Academy, familiar to Chrysippus and his readers, including lutarch, — but not otherwise familiar to us  ?     In any case the man who entitled this pair of works twice used a strange grammatical construction “epi+genitive-of X”, meaning “concerning X”.    This is a usage relatively unfamiliar to LSJ.   They find few texts with examples of this — except at the Old Academy at the time of the young Aristotle.   They give it the heading “III” within their sub-article on “epi+genitive”.   The two examples are from the Rhetoric and Nicomachean Ethics.   But that is both the time and the place when Younger Socrates will have been teachers, teaching Plato to the young of Aristotle.    The man Aristotle calls “Younger Socrates” may have created this special way of using “epi” to mean our “concerning”.

Plenty of time, of course, for the now lost work “epi DialektikEs” to  (a) have had an influence, say on Chrysippus, but (b) going lost to the tradition, except for its ghost of a title.    The same close familiarity with the Old Academy can of course be attributed rightly to both Chrysippus and Plutarch.  Plutarch was fond of reciting the proverbial:   “let us begin from our own hearth”, meaning in Plutarch’s case that same Old Academy, Plato alongside personally.       A man nicknaming himself  “Neos SwkratEs”.   Or, as Epistle #2 riddlingly puts it :  “Socrates, born anew [neos gegonotos], but beautiful this time”.   

Problemata has just the same mis-ordering issue when giving a list of “mad poets”, so to speak driven crazy by their ‘Melancholic’ personalities/temperaments.    The list given has this historical mis-ordering:   Empedocles=>Plato=>Socrates.    A wild poet Socrates ?   Well the author of  DeMundo Ch. 7 , — especially in his poetic and melancholic rant on the ‘polyonymous Zeus’, — fits this personality type precisely.   Call him Socrates Homericus, or S. Musiko-Manikos.      Ask Jonathan Barnes if he could write a tract entitled “Coffee with Socrates-Teacher-of-Aristotle”.    Author of the DeMundo as Barnes might know this.      We are entitled to a ‘secundum mentem’ inference here, I think.   My possible-Barnes sometimes answers my questions in these arcane matters.    He answers my question:   “was the DeMundo written near in time to Aristotle’s De Caelo, and less than one human generation after Plato wrote Timaeus ? ”    I imagine Jonathan answering this question: ” Yes and No “.      Some few years ago now I have anyway asked him this question.

In that  mass of early-Academy material gathered under the name “Problems” (many of these later got attributed to Aristotle) we chance upon a man named “NeoklEs”  (956 a 13).    Scholars have been unable to identify this man.   A young Pittsburgh scholar with good access to libraries in Italy is now working on some mss. of Aristotle’s ‘Mechanical Problems‘, the diagrams especially.  She is likely to throw valuable new light on that scene in the Old Academy, based on various of  these north-Italy sources of evidence.    One particular question that arises is:   does the author use the diagram-letter “K” to stand for a figure’s “kentron” — just as it does both in Meteorologica III, v  and as it also stands in the texts of some diagrams in Book XII (especially XII, 12) ?    This book of the Elements was likely written by Aristotle’s teacher,  Eudoxus of Cnidus, somewhere near the 106th Olympiad (354 BC).

In the case of the reference to “NeoklEs”, scholars don’t know who he was.    But it looks as if this man had been so bold as to require Plato to answer him — “Why is it that obedience is not called for in a general way inside our animal kingdom — except obedience to a human ?”       Plato is reported to have “replied” to this man.    “Mr. Neo-” we may call him.    He replied as follows: because humans are properly cognisant of numbers, uniquely so among our fellow-animals.     It has been noticed by scholars that this is precisely the point made in ps-Platonic dialogue  Epinomis, by Plato’s disciple Philip of Opus.   But scholars have been shy to take a reasonable next step.    Some early XXIst century research has taken a philosophico-scientific approach to this very topic.   Other primates are not (dis)obedient the way we are.

This is a reasonable next step.    We may have this “Mr. Neo-” identical to the man of kingly voice at Politicus 311c.   Therefore he will have been,  within that nanocosm of the Academy, a King-of-the-contest, feeling temporarily entitled to require of Plato a kind of “command performance” reply to his questions.    “Answer my question, O Plato” says our emboldened young man [as an author, he will soon presume to entitle his piece appended to Plato’s Laws with a provocative title.   His title was “The Philosopher”   Later editions called it Epinomis.   A lEmmation or two, when proved, will allow us to identify this ‘New Socrates’ with ‘Amphinomus’, and again identify Amphinoms with Philip of Opus].     I have Philip continuing:  “. . .since I have not become the donkey of the child’s game, the one making an error.    Rather I have been coronated (for now) the King of the victorious Opinion !”

What is a lEmmation, you ask ?     It is a lEmma still in its juniority.     We note a word of like construction (diminutive) occurring in the scholia to Euclid I (also not noticed by LSJ):     “ANTISTROPHION”.      L. Campbell had paid special attention to Plato’s own coinages of diminutives, in his Republic Vol. II.    This could rightly be interpreted  “converse-junior”.      Other material of great interest follow this same ‘paradromic’ path from the Academy near Olympiad 106 to us today in the digital era of Plato scholarship, XXI centuries into the Christian era.     An example (not to be pursued here) is a report on a ‘pythagorean’ version of the definition of   SXHMA.      Scholars who refuse to credit the early Greek mathematicians, especially those around Plato and Aristotle, with any concept of structure in mathematical proof sequences are  too ready, I judge,  to dismiss these little-people present here and there in Euclid’s scholia, some of them destined to grow up.     LEmmatia can grow up to be lEmmata, antistrophia to be antistrophai, and proof-positions which “want” to be earlier rather than later inside Euclid Bk I can grow up to be mature gratified wishes and wants.

Consider this picture, a kind of graphic-novel,  of the de-crowning of  Socrates-Elder, followed by the renewed-crowning of  “Socrates-the-King (ho neos gegonotos)”:

see how the crown is ready to fall off, as the fateful wheel-turner moves history ‘ever onward’ or ‘peirastically onward’  (AIEI, as Thucydides would formulate this). In cycles of 50-years, however, one meets up with ever renewed modules.

Younger Socrates’s ‘coronation’ will have been more of a child’s-game level of culture, thus many steps below the cultural level of a ‘coronation’ of Demosthenes (we recall Tht. 146 A again for our ‘child-king Socrates’).    Which coronation, in turn, will be many steps below the one depicted at  Phaedo 118.   See the David Dann depiction, varying the theme of “Secular Cycles”,  Socrates Junior  of   Polit. 311cd about to replace the earlier coronated [Phdo. 118] Socrates Elder.

facial features of Younger Socrates taken from the Konrad Gaiser “philosophenmosaik”, showing
the two parties of astronomers at Old Academy near 106th Olympiad

But where can a person reasonably begin in this historical inquiry, seeking for a second blood-and-bone Socrates, near the time of Leodamas ?    It is not an Academy easy to unriddle, after all.   Can we find a definite pointer to such a man at the Old Academy ?      Answer:   Metaphysics Book Zeta, Chapter 11.   Scholars have been shy of identifying any ‘blood and bone’ person in the immediate vicinity of Plato and Aristotle, to whom Aristotle is there pointing his finger.    Yet Plato’s Letter 11 refers to just such a man.  And Merton College scholar David Bostock is willing to say of such a real-life person, that he appears to have been a mathematician.    Siem Slings (his Clitophon edition) has two Socrates’s in Plato’s vicinity, but only one is a ‘blood & bone’ individual, and not mathematically inclined.    D.B. Robinson’s OCT text of ‘Politicus’ — one may rightly follow CJ Rowe in calling this recent OCT work ‘interventionist’ —   is so bold as to intervene textually at Politicus 311 c9.   The result is to remove any traces of Younger Socrates there.   And to trade on the ambiguity (Older/Junior) Socrates.    Robinson inserts some text and causes Older Socrates to make a return here, where Plato had Socrates Junior.   At least if   Venetus  T and all the other primary witnesses count as authoritative, it is Socrates Junior.

Admittedly, what Aristotle says of him there in Metaphysics Zeta is rather harsh.   Aristotle tells us that his opinion ‘leads away from the truth [ap-agwgE].    This is likely an ascerbic allusion to the admired elder Socrates.    After all, a chief feature of the Elder Socrates (admired by both Plato and Aristotle) was his trademark ‘induction’ [ep-agwgE] or ‘[reasoning ]leading towards [truth]‘.   Yes, it’s truly an irony that Aristotle would turn the standard prefix into its exact opposite,  an apo– instead of an epi– [‘away from’  instead of ‘towards’].     C.J. Rowe and D.B. Robinson have recently done some public agreeing about the meaning of ‘par-agein’ at Phdr. 262 d2.    More of a rhetorical  ‘side-slipping’ past the truth than a diametrically opposite dragging-away from it, in any case.     We are at the “hearth to begin from”, the place where  W. Jaeger’s young philosopher was studying rhetoric.    That time and place seems to have had Leodamas, Socrates and the very young Aristotle all learning from one another.

Aristotle adds one further point to the acidity of his remark about ‘Socrates Junior’ in this same passage of Met. Zeta.   He uses a perverse word to focus our attention on  Younger Socrates’s ‘repeatedly/habitually’ making this misleading and wrong comparison.   Aristotle uses the imperfect tense by way of suggesting he had heard this recently inside the Old Academy, and by way of emphasising its misleadingness.   For it was an ‘oft-repeated’ misleading comparison — with animals.

Be this as it may, the 13th century  treatise held by the Ashmolean in Oxford bears the title PROGNOSTICA.    You might think its contents disreputable popular-style Astrology or Fortune-telling.   The Oxford MS. is illustrated by Matthew Paris.   Jacques Derrida got very excited by it, thought up some elaborate neo-Freudian fancies based upon it.    Derrida adds some valuable points when he brings in the (I believe falsified) Letter #2 of Plato.    The contents and the underlying motivation(s) of this Letter are certainly hard to decipher.   It may be helpful to turn toPaul Friedlaender,  a man who knew his Plato and his Old Academy well.   In his chapter “Plato’s Letters” he reviews the contentious scholarship about Letter #2.      What of those who dismiss it as “silly, childish [and its] falseness requires no proof”.     Or this, relayed from another august authority, Shorey:    “this mystico-theosophical gabble”  [Friedlaender’s Plato, An Introduction, p. 243].     In any case the Ashmolean curator Mr. Benfield is far from proud of this PROGNOSTICA’S contents [his scornful tone as he exhibited the work to me at the Bodleian in 2010 relayed this unambiguously].    But he was and is immensely proud of its standing as one of the Bodleian’s chief “treasures”.     Its composer can have been an over-ambitious hyper-platonist “climber”, scrambling to secure for himself a satisfying role within the governing “Nocturnal Council” outlined at the end of Plato’s Laws (Book XII).    Philip was ambitious enough, anyhow, to append his mystico-astronomical literary piece “The Philosopher” at this very point in Plato’s writings.    The final book of Plato’s final work — by Philip of Opus as it turns out, and subtitled with that title left with nothing underneath itself.   “The Philosopher”, which Campbell speculated might have had Theaetetus as its principal speaker, was put into the crowning position, by Philip.

[a subtle and subtly allusive point surfaces in the text of  in Book I of Aristotle’s Ethica Nicomachea   (1099 a 10) , possibly written when Aristotle was a young scholar at the Academy — etymologising the name “Philip”.   Quite similarly to the etymological work by Plato in Republic Bk V.   Plato had some complex motives there in Rep. V, one being to chide the type of man over-fond of ‘glory’ (doxa) with his more moderate intellectual compeers.    When honor and glory take charge, Plato there writes, you can find a man so pre-occupied with them that (like the glory-driven military commander, content to reduce the size of his unit ‘commanded’  just so long as he remains the glorious chief {of this reduced unit !}     On the purely cognitive side, this same temperament is often willing to bargain away truth just to win the ‘prevailing opinion’.   Beloved rightminded-opinion, nevermind truth (as a benighted Euthyphro might put it).       This is the passage of Rep. V where Plato coins the word  ‘philo-theamwn’  and sharply contrasts him and his attitudes from the true ‘philo-sophos’.     Here in EN Bk I Aristotle makes bold to use the example of ‘horse-lovers’ (phil-ippoi) under his deliberately generalised heading ‘philo-toioutoi’.    And two of our good mss. include a reference to the ‘philo-theamwn’ [these vv. ll., alas, do not survive in apparatus criticus of Bywater’s Oxford edition — though they had survived in Bekker].     The Bywater preferred reading has the more innocuous term ‘philo-theorwn’.    This is a slight slide, since it is a ‘theama’ wanting to be echoed, not a ‘theoria’, a ‘spectacle’, not a ‘theoretical truth’.       Noteworthy here is J. Barnes’s point about Aristotle’s prose style:   not just sinewy, but also allusive.      The de-preferred reading here seems to capture Aristotle’s meaning more exactly:   (a)  a ‘theama’ when loved is a case of ‘philo-theamwn’ and (b)  the lover spectacle/opinion/glory comes up precisely parallel to the character sharing his name with Aristotle’s ‘socratic’ teacher, Phil-ippos {of Opus !} ]

There is more about all of this (except for the Derrida part) at the site now called   If this succeeds in evolving into a WordPress blog [sun te du’ erxomenw], its name will likely evolve  also.   It would then likely include observations about the San Marco Library’s  Plato  MS  nr. 542, —  what scholars commonly call    T  .   This  MS got close attention in spring of 1994  from British scholar George Boys-Stones.    But the Clarendon Press editors of today — now at work at re-issuing their OCT — tend toward readings from another family they have recently come to groupname   b (=beta)  .      This can sometimes (as with the “idion” added by  T  ;  Campbell finds “something of an ethical force” both in Soph. 216 and in “oikeioteta” at Polit. 257d,f.    Here we can supplement Campbell’s remarks with the arguments of Philip Merlan, showing that “oikeion” was a kind of signature term for the Old Academy.   This strengthens Campbell’s intuitive point, and bases it on a more detailed analysis.    It has a bit of parallelism in the proverb quoted by Plutarch, treating the Academy as his “home base”:    “let us begin from our hearth” is Plutarch’s self-exhortation, meaning by hearth and home exactly the Academy.

On the other hand,  Campbell’s successors — now a whole century later — at Clarendon Press have kept Sophist 264’s  “idion” demoted to their apparatus criticus.     Thus no part of that committee’s OCT text.    They give it only as a v.l. in case one wants to consult the parchment pages of  tghe Marciana’s Venetus  T .      In due course it may be possible to make all of this about Soph. 263-264 clearer, and more directly available to the scholarly eye, such as that of  W.S.M Nicoll and George Boys-Stones, two British friends and consulters of   T.

My opinion, offered truly in humility (here we have indeed a case of “humility-on-the-merits !)  is the following.     Even if we need to be patient for some or all of another century, awaiting the hitherto unimagined openness of textual open spaces,  the XXII. cent.  OCT may find a way tol expand itself to give a fuller understanding of that “idion” word at Soph. 264 e3, firmly lodged there ad loc. in our Marciana ms.     The memory of the XIX. century limitations, which required a projected 900 page work to be compressable into a 600 page format should by then be no  more than an old and sad-to-remember history.     Yes, it troubled the “Plato Lexicon” around 1903, looked forward to quite explicitly by Campbell, in  Vol II of his Oxford Republic on p. 270, and a bit less explicitly on p. 323.    See now Prof. Whitaker of Glasgow’s e-article “Unvollendetes”;  in 2009 I made a hard-copy of portions of this and snail-mailed them to Jonathan Barnes, former Balliol professor.      May we call on our ‘mystico-theosophico-prognostico’ King Socrates here ?   I mean to help us foretell the OCT of  one hundred years onward ?    It seems like a ‘forever’ leap in time, but perhaps the King prognosticator is equipped to take charge [see his ‘climbing’ attitude in David Dann’s portrait above] .      At this present time (late in 2012 AD)  volume II of the early Twenty-First Century’s OCT has yet to appear.   Its birth-pains are not so unlike those referred to at  Letter #2,   313 a.    In addition to the 3 midwives  (Phenarete, Socrates and Theaetetus), we may add the man soon to appear, and susceptible to “labor pains” — Younger Socrates.

One needs a ‘lEmmation’ or two to prove this.    But these may grow up to be mature lemmas, provable lemmas.   [see above on diminutivised Lemma‘s and diminutivised Antistropha]

Leon Robin had challenged some parts of the then-consensus of scholars (1911 through the 1930s), — including those around J. Burnet, — by finding literally scores of examples of what I am now calling a ‘vectoral’ or ‘onward’ kind of ‘ever’.    Many manuscripts read   “AIEI” , and Robin reflected this in his apparatus.    There is a striking dominance of this reading among good MSS of Symp. and Phdr. ,  — very notably in Venetus     T.     It seems reasonable to look for a meaning  close to what we find inside the Theaetetan word “AIEI”.         This same word “AIEI” turns up, signally, adjacent to that word “idion [oikeian]” in Soph. 264e.  [Dramatically, Plato has his ‘Eleatic Visitor’ in conversation with a then-young mathematician named Theaetetus.]

A passage in Theorem 2 of Euclid XII  quotes verbatim from Theaetetus’s signature proposition, i.e. Book X, Prop. 1, and quotes the “AIEI”  (in that spelling) in the course of doing this act of referring.   So we have a pattern of D-C-B-A here.    Plato-in-Sophist (=D) paraphrasing Eudoxus-in-Ur-XII (=C), citing Theaetetus-in-Ur-X (=B).   And this series continues back towards an Archytas-era piece of mathematical theory (=A).    Here we do best not to indulge in the “expansion” of this early Pythagorean ‘Areskon’, such as Proclus, Friedlein p. 142 admits he has done — bringing in mirrors and other digressive topics.       It is better to guide by the purer and more condensed version of the Pythagorean ‘Areskon’ relayed in Scholion 1, to Def. 14 of Bk. I, on the definition of “SXHMA”.   This more elegant version of the ‘Areskon’ is less than half the length of Proclus’s expanded version.   There are some internal indications that the simpler formulation is also the purer and older, sourced from the Old Academy itself.     Our witness here is the anonymous scholiast relayed by Heiberg at his Vol. V, pp. 91 – 93.     Quite conceivably the scholiast is working from a source from the pre-Academy period, nearer in time and place to Archytas in Tarentum.    This is an attractive thing to think, anyhow, for our initial term “A”.

Several scholarly puzzles could be rendered less puzzling if we follow some independent evidences from the history of geometry and astronomy here.    Some arguments can be developed, for example, for attributing  the tract named “epi dialektikEs” in the Plato ms. “P” to this same man near the young Aristotle and the aging Plato — Philip of Opus.     Philip will have been making his syntax “epi-plus-genitive” a case of the LSJ article s.v. III, where all their illustrations are from the early Aristotle [a student of Younger Socrates]. In any case, more is likely to be learned when scholars can have a leisurely look at  that 163-leaf manuscript, and its Plato Lexicon.     It seems likely to be scanned into digitised  format, under the Polonsky Foundation project, due to run until 2016.       Several issues in the early history of logic and the exact sciences, brought into sharper focus by JBrunschwig of Paris and CWilson of Annapolis, will be provoking scholars to carry forward their recent efforts, alas now discontinued.     We can imagine this in the pattern of an Archytas ‘ever-onward’ series of stages, greater knowledge as the series continues.

There is in any case a time-neutral sense of ‘ever-onward’, not so exalted as a thing timeless pure and simple.    Rather, it resembles that middle item between the time-neutral status of a Theorem and the time-connected status of a Problem (when if ever will our solution be completed ?).      De Morgan wrote affectingly in 1855 [his friend Boole died then] about mathematical research he and George Boole were advancing, moving it towards a more perfect result than Hobbes had achieved.   The two of them in 1855, wrote De Morgan, made a point of abstaining from each of three claims:    priority, posteriority and simultaneity with ongoing work by other mathematical researchers.     All the same De Morgan prognosticated that the name ‘Boole’ would one day be widely known for the fundamental idea [we now call it Boolean Algebra] that Algebra, so far from limiting its scope to a handful of the mind’s operations — might be seen by a very wide public indeed to underlie them all.     Porisms and Episkepseis can rise to such levels of aspiration.    So say some of our ancient scholia to Euclid.    We might rephrase this as: a not-fully-vetted proof can lead researchers to a porismatic-onward, or episkeptic-onward, or peirastic-onward effort of thought.    If this leads in turn to an heroic or ‘Orphic’ aspiration, so much the better.    Plato was forever keeping himself open to such aspiration, certainly.

The philological thread, unbroken from point-D back to point-B at least, has textual warrant to support it.   More so if the forthcoming editions of the OCT texts of Symp. and Phaedrus keep many (or even keep half) of the “AIEI” readings now manifest in the Marciana MS  #542.    A most curious detour, on the way back from C to B.    It occurs right at  Ur-XII, where Heiberg preserves a non-standard edition, one in his main text and the other under the title “Appendix II”.    This is not merely an alternate reading of one or another proposition in Book XII, it is an alternate version of the entire book (together with a few propositions from the end of Book XI).    Heiberg calls it Appendix II to his Vol. III.    No MS reads this way except the one now residing in Bologna [which I have inspected].    Its Heiberg siglum is    .    Guiding by the philological thread I am now following, Book XII in its entirety has a variant reading.   It has what one may call a  “deviation into standard later-Attic”.    This will have required Eudemus’s  altering its “AIEI” into the later-Attic variant  “AEI”.    This was to become so standard for Plato editors (including, one can now prognosticate’, the OCT editorial team of Duke, Nicoll, Robinson et al.    Our XXI. century standard-Plato [ note well, Leonard Brandwood is a non-compliant voice here, something of a Cassandra, foretelling the XXII. cent.’s restoration of  the “AIEI” form, at least for Symp. and Phdr.]

This is not the place to go into detail about the “poiEsis” question in Books XII.   The key indicator of Philip’s authorship (thus ‘tampering’ with the original version, by Eudoxus) will be this one:   C-alt   executes a near-total removal of the poiEsis language, which characterises Eudoxus’s original version (now the standard text of Bk XII).       There are a number of further reasons, several based on scholia to Euclid, — notably  Schol. #3 to Book V in the Heiberg edition —  for believing the following about this “Bologna ms.” edition of Book XII:  The true author of  C-alt. flourished some 50 yrs prior to Euclid’s floruit.   He was (as his mother knew him) Philippus.    This is the same man tradition has known under various names, but in any case he functioned as Plato’s personal amaneunsis.    Standardly his name has come to settle on “Philip of Opus”.    Philip will have been willing and able to assume code-names there at the Academy [Campbell wrote about officials in mystery religion being required to assume code-names, and this phenomenon is much broader than Campbell’s focus on religion allowed him to discuss].

Somewhat speculatively, I have this same man, ne’ Philip, assuming the code-name within the Academy   “Amphinomus”.    Thus Proclus has the pair “Speusippus and Amphinomus” complaining about “poiEsis” language infecting mathematics.    The timeless sense of “ever” in mathematics is threatened by this.   This subject needs fuller discussion elsewhere.   Here at Book XIIa, his spelling preference for this technical word would naturally be   “AEI”, his motivations strongly “eternalist” similar to Phaedo.     This will be entirely like the man (likely also Philip) who wrote Scholion #18 to Euclid I.     He fairly shudders at the thought of a “tote trigwnon”, a ‘then-triangle’ with one side having recently suffered [such an indignity to its essence!] a geometer’s operation of ‘extending’.    Much needs developing here — and that which is susceptible of near-proof needs near-proving.    But there is a real possibility that such proofs may be found, with your help, dear reader !    Scholion #3 to Book V, when rightly interpreted,  is likely to be a major boost to this argument.

In any case we need to continue the retro-progression backward from the post-Platonic viewpoints of a Philip/Amphinomus or of a Eudemus of Rhodes, towards the pre-Platonic viewpoiont of an Archytas or Ocellus.   Just where Archytas urges us to think of ‘stretching forth’ vectors, he manages to put his mathematics into motion, bring it to life..   But this means a series or “AIEI” formulation will point towards futurity, the subjunctive and optative, the contingent.    His coding of this was   “AIDIA”.    Therefore something of the old ‘Areskon’ era is likely getting lost amongst the partisans devoted to timeless Forms.   Or so I opine.    Much remains to be investigated here.   Including   Venetus    T.

Back in his 1920s edition of Phaedo Robin had achieved a measure of consensus-challenging textual work.   But his follow-up editions of Symp. and Phaedrus made major extra contributions.   Had Robin commented on Soph. 264 E, we would have had a wider basis to build upon.    This was not to be.

A truly valuable, but hitherto largely unexploited ancient source is available.   It was already available in 1888, but has become much more so since the TLG entered it into machine-readable form.   This is:   the Objections & Replies and also the commentary —  published in the late 1880s by JL Heiberg of Denmark in his Teubner edition of Euclid’s Elements.      These are  Euclid’s “Scholia”.   Heiberg had collected them carefully from the margins of Euclid.    His monograph on the subject was unfortunately only published in Danish.

Scholiasts to Euclid (no, this need NOT refer simply to what we find in Proclus on Book I) have asked us to recognise Theaetetus’s “AIEI” front-matter to Book X as making up a “Chapter One” of that Old Academy work.    That will be Chapter One of what is now Book X of Euclid.    What authority lies behind my calling the definitions and first 18 propositions of Book X “Chapter One” ?   JL Heiberg published a scholion to X,19 — he found it in two excellent  MSS — calling thm 19 the first theorem of “Chapter Two”.     Heiberg gavet this Scholion the number 133.    Proclus makes no reference to it.

Do we have some common material in the background of all four, Symposium, Phaedrus, Theaetetus, and Ur-Chapter-One of Elements?     If so, this will be material pointing back to the time of the Old Academy when Theaetetus was writing this “Chapter One”.    But there are signs that Theaetetus’s Chapter One was itself an outgrowth of earlier pythagorean work.       It may not be unreasonable to entitle some of this material (following other scholia published by Heiberg) a Pythagorean Areskon.     A significant trace of such a guidepost may be present in a troubled passage of Tht., troubled in a special way inside the Venetus   T .    When the new editions of Symp.  and Phaedr. come out from Clarendon Press, we may see more attention to the frequently occurring spelling variant   “AIEI”  in this Marciana MS.

Possibly this MS. at the Marciana can help point the way back to such before-Plato sources.      As of this date (early September 2012) we can reasonably conjecture about our series of texts of Plato, of Theaetetus, and of Philip of Opus.

Scholarly initiatives began in earnest with the Bude editions by L. Robin in the 1920s and 1930s — and from there we have another ‘onward-vector’ impetus from scholarly work by Leonard Brandwood, his his 1976 “Word Index to Plato”. may one day make new offerings here.

Some of these scholia clearly echo material handed down from antiquity.   Proclus confirms this fully.  So the trick may be (do recall that ‘tricks’ and Hermes go together).      Nothing prevents there having been an outcropping of Theurgical arts in the days before Euclid.     This could even have happened at the  Old Academy.    This seems oddly anachronistic, but yet such early Theurgy is not an impossibility.    Scholion #61 to Euclid Book I makes early Theurgy there look to be a possibility.     Of course, this and related scholia (like 109-114) may have been written generations or even centuries after Euclid’s own time.   But there are real indications here and there of a surprisingly different history behind such scholia to Euclid.   Decades or even generations before Euclid (say around the time young Aristotle composed his lists of Enstaseis ) there are likely to have been written comments to various pieces of Ur-Euclid, what Heiberg used to call the elementisings of the ‘antiquiores’.    This is true of many of the scholia, such as Schol #95 to Bk X.     Scholia #3 and #30 to Book V give us another outside-of-Proclus vantage point, likely tracing back to antiquity, to make this mathematical material clearer both in its history and its contributions to mathematics and Early Academic philosophy.

The trick when trying to strengthen our understanding this aspect of Archytas will be  to get clearer on what kind of “vector” he understood mathematical series to imply.    This will be encoded in optative and subjunctive moods, some of them not still alive in the mathematical prose of Euclid’s time.    We need to follow the scholiasts’s lead, wherever the evidence encourages this, with fuller explanations.    This means firming up the voices of our personified and dramatised ‘narratives’ from the Old Academy’s mathematicians.       This will mean leaving behind the softer moods of wished-for’s, might-have-been’s, narratives and counter-narratives  — therefore stretching our ‘dunait’ an einai’ optatives onward to the simple and declarative ‘on’.    We may usefully draw on the language which Eudemus (his Phys. Frag. 30) draws in turn from Archytas.    This fragment has found its best and boldese interpreter in  T.L. Heath, his “History”.   Over-cautious philology remains compliant with Diels & Kranz, but loses the force of his word “AIDIA”.    By Eudemus’s time the settled later-Attic form   “AEI”  will have been the prevalent one.

The idea is to set out results avoiding this kind of ‘compliance’ [to borrow a term from Plutarch].    This way of ‘stretching onward’ via “AIDIA” will have been what the Old Academy’s ideals held up for emulation.

We do in fact have several lines of evidence, some within the history of mathematics, of working mathematicians at the Old Academy, near in time to Aristotle’s first arrival there (around -366).   One may rightly think of them as hyper-enthusiasts, men overcome with a passion for thinking like Plato.    Or even more Platonically than Plato himself.    Such a man was Philip of Opus.    These were men known ironically to Plato as ‘Friends of Forms’.    Archytas’s quadrivial credentials were exemplary [see Lasserre’s scholarship on the early stages of the Quadrivium, his ‘Museum Helveticum’ article of some 20 years ago now].     An ounce of Heath’s Archytas-via-Eudemus is worth a pound or more of conjectures about Philolaus and Ocellus, if we guide by these evidences from the mathematical side.      But much of this is still remaining to be developed, this line of argument about the Academy, so far as it struggled to be neither an echo of Plato nor a partisan of Aristotle’s.   These would be men perhaps ambitious to be Plato’s “diadochos”, in any case wanting to lead the Academy in the direction of mathematics and astronomy.

Will a WordPress site have something to offer here ?     Conceivably, yes.   If wishes were horses, Philip of Opus might have lightened his pythagorean burden.   [For now, we can do little but exclaim  in the promissory-indefinite manner of lines 551-566 of Hymn to Hermes.    This would be a subjunctive or optative wish for help from The [Unreliable] God of Discovery and pseudo-Discovery.     The god to whom sacrifices are suggested (=Hermes) in scholia to Euclid.   This is the very god against whom [or at least the poet’s standard picture of whom] Plato  unleashes sharply hostile, near-blasphemous rhetoric early in Laws XII.    You will have a big task on your hands if you try to find a less Hermes-friendly piece of prose than Plato’s attack on the god in Laws XII.

We ourselves would want to retreat to a safe rear-guard position in these theological battles, and will want to incant [cf. Tht. 157 c9, ‘epaidw’]  some kind of counter-wish against a threat of divine retribution.   Especially against the threat of hostility from Hermes’s property-conscious older Brother, Apollo.   The calming climate of Venice may help moderate this or that of our speculations here.   In any case there is more to this story, or would that there might be.]

One thought on “‘Ever’ as timeless vs. ‘ever’ as ‘ever-onward’

  1. optatives are present in the inscription near Argos, done some 2 centuries before Plato, at a religious sanctuary. there associated with ‘AI’ as a separate optative vector word. or so I am wanting (tentatively) to call this. not much distant in time, a version of the Homeridic “hymn to Hermes” encodes some similar moods, near its line 566. Again the “AI” string at the front is doing special work. SUDA suggests “AI” is like a prefix — comparing it to “EU”. Asks us to derive it from “AIDE”. Not much distant in time from Plato, the Dissoi Logoi regularly have a separable word formed just from this two-letter string: ‘AI’. It means roughly our ‘if’.

    It is right to have both moods, subjunctive and optative, associated with a subjective feeling of the series (toward the future, usually), this series being vectoral and ‘iffy’.