Tragedy off-stage

In James H. Lesher, Debra Nails & Frisbee Candida Cheyenne Sheffield (eds.), Plato's Symposium: Issues in Interpretation and Reception. Harvard University Press (2006)
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I argue that the tragedies envisioned by the Symposium are two, both of which are introduced in the dialogue: (i) within months of Agathon's victory, half the characters who celebrated with him suffer death or exile on charges of impiety; (ii) Socrates is executed weeks after the dramatic date of the frame. Thus the most defensible notion of tragedy across Plato's dialogues is a fundamentally epistemological one: if we do not know the good, we increase our risk of making mistakes and of suffering what are sometimes their catastrophic consequences.

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Debra Nails
Michigan State University


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