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Socrates' Metaphysical Olympiad in Plato's Phaedrus



In Plato's Phaedrus, Socrates leaves Athens for the locus amoenus beneath a plane tree. As if possessed, the philosopher then articulates the renowned chariot allegory in a frenzy. However, to understand the myth as a medium of philosophical instruction dumbs down the Greeks' exuberant imagination revolving around sport whether in mythology or in actuality. Namely, competitive events in numerous Hellenic games feature a diversity of instrumental sociocultural views more than what a philosophical allegory can contain. For instance, sport serves as the fundamental apparatus of distinguishing Greeks from non-Greeks and furthermore, of fashioning an epitomical Greek identity underlined by gender and class differences. Therefore, this paper aims to employ the sociocultural connotations of Greek sport to re-interpret the Phaedrus and the chariot myth therein. It turns out that Socrates' journey out of town transforms the idyllic nature of the space outside Athens into a space informed by athleticism. More remarkably, with the multiple correlation points between the chariot races in Hellenic games and those in the allegory, Socrates finally mounts a de facto Olympiad-a metaphysical Olympiad that extols in like manner power and aristocracy.


Phaedrus chariot allegory sport agon charioteering Olympiad

Parallel abstracts



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