The Dramatic Context

  • Mitchell H. MillerJr.
Part of the Martinus Nijhoff Classical Philosophy Library book series (NCPL, volume 2)


The most striking feature of the action of the Statesman is the lack of any explicit conflict. The assembled company consists of refined and erudite men — Theodorus the famous geometer, Socrates, and the Eleatic stranger — and the gifted students in Theodoran mathematics, Theaetetus and the young Socrates. The explicit tone is one of mutual deference, especially towards Socrates. In the Sophist, the twin dialogue with the Statesman in which the topics and form of both conversations are established, the stranger, acceding to Socrates’ request for an exposition of the Eleatic conceptions of sophist, statesman, and philosopher, expresses a certain shyness, aidos (217d), at giving a lengthy exposition at his first meeting with Socrates; this is an expression of respect. Likewise, Theodorus remarks that there is ‘something divine’ (216b) about philosophers, and in the beginning lines of the Statesman he cheerfully accepts Socrates’ half-jesting objection to his democratic equalization of the three types, sophist, statesman, and philosopher (257b). Theaetetus and young Socrates, in their turn, defer to the greater wisdom of the stranger and Socrates repeatedly. The elder Socrates, in response, has flattering words for all, praising the stranger’s definitions and calling Theodorus ‘our greatest mathematician’ (257a).


Gifted Student Dialogue Form Great Mathematician Early Reflection Dramatic Situation 
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© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers bv, The Hague 1980

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  • Mitchell H. MillerJr.

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