Long, Christopher P. “Dancing Naked with Socrates: Pericles, Aspasia and Socrates at Play with Politics, Rhetoric and Philosophy,” Ancient Philosophy 23, 1 (2003): 49-69.
This article offers an interpretation of Plato’s Menexenus in which the figure of Socrates emerges as critical of both the Periclean and Aspasian vision of politics. By speaking in the voice of Aspasia in the Menexenus, Socrates is able to draw out the limitations of the Periclean politics of freedom without straightforwardly identifying himself with the Aspasian politics of care. By distancing himself from both positions, Socrates elucidates the limitations of each: The Periclean vision of politics is grounded in a conception of self-sufficiency that leads to imperialism, the Aspasian in the dangerous myth of autochthony. Socrates’ playful dialogue with Menexenus, and Menexenus’ incapacity to appreciate the ambiguity and nuance of the Socratic position, lend new insight into the meaning and nature of philosophical citizenship. Socrates, as the philosopher citizen, distances himself from two main ideological visions of politics in such a way that a new conception of politics emerges, one grounded as much in justice as in freedom.
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