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Counter-Currents Radio  
The Trial of Socrates:
Aristophanes’ Clouds, Part 1

Seated Socrates, fresco from ancient Ephesus

Seated Socrates, fresco from ancient Ephesus

54:53 / 472 words

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This is the first of three podcasts on Aristophanes’ Clouds. This lecture opens with a discussion of the Sophist Antiphon.

The first words, which were cut off, were something to the effect of: “Before we examine Aristophanes’ Clouds, we will first deal with the reading from Antiphon in A Presocratics Reader.”

The Source of the Lecture

In September and October of 1998, I gave a course of eight, two-hour lectures on “The Trial of Socrates.” We covered the following topics and texts:

  • Myth, pre-philosphical concepts of order, and the presocratic philosophical background of Aristophanes’ Clouds
  • Aristophanes’ comedy Clouds, which gives a very unflattering portrayal of Socrates
  • Plato’s dialogue Theages, which can be read as a rebuttal to the Clouds
  • Plato’s dialogue Euthyphro, which is set just before the trial of Socrates and deals with one of the accusations against him, namely impiety
  • Plato’s Apology of Socrates, his speech to the jury at his trial
  • Plato’s dialogue Crito, which is set in his prison cell as Socrates awaits execution
  • Plato’s dialogue Phaedo, which describes the last conversations and death of Socrates

The whole class was taped, but the tapes of the first lecture, which was an introduction to the whole course, and the last lecture, on the Phaedo, have disappeared. Nevertheless, the six remaining lectures, which I will release in 12 separate parts, contain a lot of useful material.

The books for the class are:

The very last words of this recording are cut off as the tape ran out, but the gist of the sentence is this: “If you say that there are gods everywhere, and that natural substances and forces are gods, and these gods care nothing about human affairs, that is not, strictly speaking, atheism. But from the point of view of the defenders of the various local religions, it is the practical equivalent of atheism, for it undermines piety and belief in the gods of the city.”

If anyone is interested in producing a transcript of this lecture, we will gladly publish it. Ideally, we would like one person to do a draft transcription and then place it online to allow other listeners to offer corrections. Please contact Greg Johnson at mailto://[email protected] before starting work, so we can prevent wasteful duplication of efforts.

Greg Johnson



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  1. Ben Ross
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    The Ancients thought the “old” was good just because it was old? Not, perhaps, that having “stood the test of time”, any proposed alterations to the state of existing affairs should be thoroughly and diligently scrutinized? The latter mindset seems far more plausible to me.

    Contrast this with the Young Turk mentality of the Obamaites and their ilk today, which arbitrarily asserts the exact opposite: that the old is bad just because it is old (White, reactionary(???), uncouth), and that some ethereal bright and shiny newness, couched generally under the rubric of “change”, is the way – the only way – to go.

    Their change is a world devoid of White heritage, values, and people. I think we’ll pass.

  2. MountainWilliam
    Posted February 14, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Good listening. Wish I had a teacher like you when I took Ancient Phil. Mine was terrible.

  3. rhondda
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    As usual Great Stuff. Thanks.

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