The allegory of Laws in Plato’s Crito is one of the most famous passages in the Platonic dialogues, on which exists a large bibliography, which however is concentrated almost exclusively on the ideological and theoretical aspects of the section. Aim of the paper is instead to analyze the rhetorical and literary aspects of the architecture of the Nomoi’s allegorical personification, completely based on the rhetorical figure of prosopopoeia: an allegory linked to an ancient literary tradition of Nomos’ personification, that goes back to Pindar and his Nomos basileus, and that at the same time anticipates, in its relationship with the joined personification of the Athenian Homeland, the subsequent fusion of the personification of Nomos with the allegorical personification of the Homeland or the City, which became in the Rhetorica ad Herennium as in Quintilian the most canonical example of rhetorical prosopopoeia. An interesting element about the form with which it is presented the speech of the Laws, and about the literary traditions to which it is linked and that it can evoke for the audience, reveals itself from the beginning of the section. It is the plural with which the Laws are evoked, and the singular "tell me" in their first words to Socrates. Many commentators have noted that the entrance of the Laws and their speaking to Socrates in first singular person correspond to the entrance of the Chorus in a drama and to the Coryphaeus who, on behalf of the entire choir, speaks as a singular person to his interlocutor. A decisive tradition of Choruses formed by allegorical personifications came to Plato from Ancient Comedy: but it was not so far noticed that Plato could find an important source of inspiration, for the portrait of his Nomoi as a Chorus, in the comedy precisely entitled Nomoi by Cratinus. It is important then to add that the Crito is, from this point of view, a decisive stage in the fusion of Ancient Comedy and Platonic dialogue (obviously with the Symposium, whose relevance is well known) that will lead to the creation of the literary genre of Menippean satire: a genre where, as it is evident for example in Lucian, the coexistence of human characters and allegorical personifications became one of the most relevant generic features. Of particular interest is also the dialogue’s closure, where (following a tradition going back at least to Sophocles) the Nomoi of the Hades appear, and where the insistence on the voice of the Laws shows the Platonic technique of construction of the personification through pure sermocinatio, without recourse to other forms of allegorical embodiment. In the final appears also – to describe the voice of the Laws that buzzes in Socrates' ears, preventing him from listening to the advice of escape by Crito – the metaphor of Korybantes, that during their orgiastic ecstasy seem to hear the sound of flutes. Although the image of Korybantes is used elsewhere in Plato, to suggest it here it may have had a role also the double meaning, legal and musical, of the term nomos (law, but also piece of music for cithara or flute): as the Korybantes believe they could listen to the sound of nomoi played by flutes, so Socrates has the impression of constantly hearing the voice of Athens’ Nomoi.

La prosopopea dei Nomoi nel Critone: forme retoriche e tradizioni letterarie

MORETTI, GABRIELLA
2013

Abstract

The allegory of Laws in Plato’s Crito is one of the most famous passages in the Platonic dialogues, on which exists a large bibliography, which however is concentrated almost exclusively on the ideological and theoretical aspects of the section. Aim of the paper is instead to analyze the rhetorical and literary aspects of the architecture of the Nomoi’s allegorical personification, completely based on the rhetorical figure of prosopopoeia: an allegory linked to an ancient literary tradition of Nomos’ personification, that goes back to Pindar and his Nomos basileus, and that at the same time anticipates, in its relationship with the joined personification of the Athenian Homeland, the subsequent fusion of the personification of Nomos with the allegorical personification of the Homeland or the City, which became in the Rhetorica ad Herennium as in Quintilian the most canonical example of rhetorical prosopopoeia. An interesting element about the form with which it is presented the speech of the Laws, and about the literary traditions to which it is linked and that it can evoke for the audience, reveals itself from the beginning of the section. It is the plural with which the Laws are evoked, and the singular "tell me" in their first words to Socrates. Many commentators have noted that the entrance of the Laws and their speaking to Socrates in first singular person correspond to the entrance of the Chorus in a drama and to the Coryphaeus who, on behalf of the entire choir, speaks as a singular person to his interlocutor. A decisive tradition of Choruses formed by allegorical personifications came to Plato from Ancient Comedy: but it was not so far noticed that Plato could find an important source of inspiration, for the portrait of his Nomoi as a Chorus, in the comedy precisely entitled Nomoi by Cratinus. It is important then to add that the Crito is, from this point of view, a decisive stage in the fusion of Ancient Comedy and Platonic dialogue (obviously with the Symposium, whose relevance is well known) that will lead to the creation of the literary genre of Menippean satire: a genre where, as it is evident for example in Lucian, the coexistence of human characters and allegorical personifications became one of the most relevant generic features. Of particular interest is also the dialogue’s closure, where (following a tradition going back at least to Sophocles) the Nomoi of the Hades appear, and where the insistence on the voice of the Laws shows the Platonic technique of construction of the personification through pure sermocinatio, without recourse to other forms of allegorical embodiment. In the final appears also – to describe the voice of the Laws that buzzes in Socrates' ears, preventing him from listening to the advice of escape by Crito – the metaphor of Korybantes, that during their orgiastic ecstasy seem to hear the sound of flutes. Although the image of Korybantes is used elsewhere in Plato, to suggest it here it may have had a role also the double meaning, legal and musical, of the term nomos (law, but also piece of music for cithara or flute): as the Korybantes believe they could listen to the sound of nomoi played by flutes, so Socrates has the impression of constantly hearing the voice of Athens’ Nomoi.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11567/880433
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