Republic, Plato’s 7th letter and the concept of Δωριστὶ ζῆν

E-Logos Electronic Journal for Philosophy 25:43-49 (2018)
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If we accept the 7th letter as authentic and reliable, a matter that we will not be addressing in this paper, the text that we have in front of us is “an extraordinary autobiographic document”, an autobiography where the “I” as a subject becomes “I” as an object, according to Brisson. The objective of the paper is to examine how we could approach and interpret the excerpt from Plato’s 7th letter regarding the Doric way of life (Δωριστὶ ζῆν). According to Plato, the Sicilian life (Σικελικὸν βίον) that was allegedly a blissful life (βίος εὐδαίμων) would never allow anyone to become virtuous with all these excesses on behalf of the appetitive part of the soul (ἐπιθυμητικόν). In contrast to this specific type of life that is presented as prevalent in the 7th Letter, only Dion used to live virtuously above pleasure and luxury. The “therapy” for this φλεγμαίνουσαν πόλιν of Syracuse is the return to Δωριστὶ ζῆν κατὰ τὰ πάτρια, the return to the Doric way of the forefathers. The phrase Δωριστὶ ζῆν in its context in the 7th Letter is an important one, because it probably shows the significance of adopting the Doric way of life, in order to create the appropriate conditions for a political reform. Examining the guardians who are the ἄριστοι of the ideal city, a class that constitutes the platonic idea of aristocracy in the Republic, we can understand that they receive many important traits from the Doric ideal (especially the educational program). Combining the concept of Δωριστὶ ζῆν with the Doric ideal, we suggest that the Doric model is quite important for the Athenian philosopher functioning as the cornerstone of reform.

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Konstantinos Gkaleas
Université Paris-Sorbonne


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