The Euthyphro is one of the short dialogues by which Plato commemorated Socrates's technique and manner in questioning people. The structure of the dialogue, which is typical for Plato's Socratic dialogues, is reflected in the following table of contents. Note the difference between the three standard questions of Socrates and the many proposed answers, with occasional digressions, in response to the third one. The identifying numbers given for the text are not the page numbers of the Hackett edition but the numbers and letters in the margin, which are standard for all editions of Plato.
After the death of Socrates in 399, Plato had travelled a bit, and then, on returning to Athens, founded a school in a grove of trees, which may also have had an athletic field, just outside the Dipylon Gate of Athens. The grove had been named after an Olympic athlete, Akadêmos, and was consequently was known as the Akadémeia, . This became the name of Plato's school, the Academy, spawning modern words like, indeed, "academy," "academic," etc. The school was founded perhaps in 387. It was finally closed in 529 AD, when the Roman Emperor Justinian did so as part of his campaign to stamp out paganism. That would add up to 915 years, a pretty good run, longer than most of the universities of Europe -- though the al-Azhar University in Cairo, associated with the al-Azhar Mosque, was founded in 970 AD by the Fatimid Caliph al-Mu'izz, so it is now 1028 years old. However, there appears to be an hiatus in the history of the Academy. In 86 BC, Athens had adhered to the cause of Mithridates VI, the King of Pontus, and the Roman general Sulla took and sacked the city, destroying, according to Plutarch, even the groves round about, including the Academy. The Scholarch of the Academy, Philo of Larissa, had fled to Rome when the War began in 88 BC and never returned. Philo's student, Antiochus of Ascalon, did afterwards return to Athens and began teaching, but not at the site of the Academy. Cicero studied under him at Athens and reported that the site of the Academy was vacant. But at some point, the Academy seems to have been revived, perhaps not until Athens became the focus of Neoplatonism in the 5th century. In modern Athens there is an old monastery in the area where the Academy would have been -- it may be on the actual site.
Aristotle was Plato's best student at the Academy and was even known as the "mind of the Academy." When Plato died in 347, Aristotle thought he would become the head of the School. Instead, the office went to one of Plato's nephews. Aristotle was a little put out by this and left. After visiting a friend, who was then executed by the Persians, and marrying his daughter, Aristotle went home to Macedonia in 345, where his father, a court physician, got him a job as tutor to the son of the King. The King was Philip II, and the son would turn out to be Alexander the Great. Just what Aristotle taught Alexander, or what they had to say to each other at all, was recorded by neither of them and remains one of the tantalizing unknowns of history. When Alexander went off to conquer Persia, Aristotle then returned to Athens to found his own school in the Lyceum. This became one of the established schools of the Hellenistic Period, though it does not seem to have lasted beyond the Hellenistic age. Although members of the Academy were simply "Academics," members of the Lyceum were called "Peripatetics," which meant, and still means, those who "walk around," which evidently is the way that Aristotle lectured.
Daedalus was famous as an architect as well as a sculptor and did his most impressive work for King Minos of Crete. His greatest works were all the result of an act of impiety by Minos, who had requested a bull from Poseidon to sacrifice to him but then, when Poseidon provided the bull, decided to keep it instead. The revenge of Poseidon took a very odd form. He caused the Queen, Pasiphaë, to conceive an unnatural carnal desire for the bull! Since the bull wasn't interested, she got Daedalus to build a model of a cow that would attract the bull but that she could hide in and use to have intercourse. This worked, and Pasiphaë actually conceived a child by the bull. This turned out to be a ferocious monster, with the body of a man but the head of a bull: the Minotaur (ironically, the "bull of Minos"). Minos then asked Daedalus to build a prison for the beast. Daedalus built a great maze, known as the "Labyrinth," , Labýrinthos.
This appears to have been the real name of a real place. In 1900 Sir Arthur Evans discovered a great palace at Knossos on Crete -- so large that it would have seemed maze-like to unsophisticated visitors from the mainland. This was part of the great pre-Greek "Minoan" civilization in the Aegean. Their language, written in an undeciphered hieroglyphic form and in the syllabic Linear A, has been tentatively identified with Luvian, an Indo-European language spoken in Asia Minor [cf. David Abulafia, The Great Sea, A Human History of the Mediterranean, Oxford, 2011, p.27]. A version of the script, Linear B, was used to write the Greek of the Mycenaeans, who inherited and perpetuated much of Minoan culture. A derivative syllabary continued to be used to write Greek on Cyprus.
After it was unearthed, the civilization of Crete was soon identified with one known to the Egyptians. Traders from , who appear in Egyptian tombs, wear costume that then was found in images at Knossos and other Aegaean sites. So the identification with the Egyptian references was certain. More intriguing is that the Egyptian word apparently also occurs in Hebrew, as , Caphtôr. In the Book of Amos, 9:7, God says that he brought "the Philistines from Caphtor" [The Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament, John R. Kohlenberger III, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, p.521]. If the Philistines indeed came from Crete, this confirms the growing understanding that the Philistines were in fact Mycenaean Greeks, some of whom were even accepted into Israel as the Tribe of Dan, who then get their name from the Homeric , Danaoí, i.e. Greeks.
A great volcanic explosion on the island of Thera, perhaps around 1500 BC, which sent ash as far away as Egypt, damaged some of the centers of the civilization; but it is less clear why the Cretan sites, like Knossos, were burned and abandoned later, around 1450. Inthos is a suffix that does not occur in Greek words proper. It is found in pre-Greek place names (like the name of the city of Corinth). Lábrys, , is known from the non-Greek languages of Asia Minor (like Lydian) as the word for a double-bladed axe -- just the kind of axe often pictured in the palace at Knossos -- which also tends to support the identification of the language of Linear A with those languages. Labyrinthos thus may simply mean "the place of the double-bladed axe." What the palace was was confusedly remembered, like Troy, long after the real place was buried and lost.
The destruction of Mycenaean civilization in the Aegean, the Doric invasion which reached across to Crete itself and Rhodes, the appearance of a derivative of Linear B in Cyprus, and the descent of Greeks in Palestine were all part of a vast movement of peoples at that time that erased old Empires, such as the Hittites and Mitanni, and troubled the Egyptians with several waves of invasion by the "Sea Peoples" and then the Libyans. One of the last great moments of Egyptian military might was when Ramesses III of the XX Dynasty (early 12th century BC) repulsed these invasions. This era, which ushered in the Greek Dark Ages, troubled or annihilated all these old Empires, and apparently involved a vast Völkerwanderung of migrating peoples, begins to look like the later, more famous, and better documented Dark Ages of the 4th and later centuries AD, when the Huns bounced across Central Asia and Germans overran the Western Roman Empire. Now it is beginning to look like there was a similar natural cause for both sets of events, a climatic cooling of the proposed "Bond Cycle," 1,470 ± 500 years, named after geologist Gerard Clark Bond (1940–2005). The cooling that subsequently would occur in the Little Ice Age, beginning in the 14th century, which also affected Ming Dynasty China, however, does not seem to fit with the periodicity of this cycle. What does, on the other hand, are the events at the end of the Old Kingdom in Egypt. We know from Egyptian records that bad things were happening in the First Intermediate Period. The references are vague enough that they don't give us much of a picture of exactly what was going on; but from the geological record it looks like the Faiyum, a vast lake in a depression fed by the Nile, dried up, so the element of climate change is evident. We are given no weather information for the Greek Dark Ages by ancient sources, but we are, by the historian Procopius, for the cooling of the 6th century AD. It would be remarkable if the distruptions of the First Intermediate Period, the Greek Dark Ages, and the Mediaeval Dark Ages can all be linked by comparable forms of climate change.
In the Labyrinth the Minotaur needed feeding. Minos required that Athens send seven youths and seven maidens every year to feed it (not unlike the sacrifice to the Capitol demanded in The Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins -- although neither the books nor the 2012 movie draw any parallel with the tribute to the Minotaur). To end this, Theseus, the son of the King of Athens, volunteered to go and kill the beast. Once there, he befriended Ariadne, daughter of Minos. She agreed to help him and provided a ball of thread so that, paying it out behind him, if he killed the Minotaur, he could find his way back out. He did kill the Minotaur, and then he and Ariadne fled back to Athens. Some versions of the story are that he abandoned her on the way (to be found by the god Dionysos), but the Odyssey itself says that she was slain by the goddess Artemis on the island of Dia. In any case, on his way home Theseus forgot an agreement with his father to hoist white sails if he had survived. When the King saw the ordinary black sails instead, he committed suicide out of grief. Theseus thus returned to become King of Athens. Later the Athenians kept a ship on display that they claimed was Theseus's ship. During the Hellenistic Period it was realized that the replacement of rotting planks had, over time, resulted in every bit of wood in the ship being replaced -- so philosophers began arguing whether it was really still the same ship!
What Daedalus was the most famous for, however, was what happened when Minos became angry with him for all the aforementioned goings-on and he fled from Crete with his son Icarus. Daedalus made wings for the two of them, with feathers set in wax. This worked, but then Icarus was so exhilarated with flying that he flew higher and higher. Today we would fear hypoxemia (lack of oxygen) from this, but what happened to the mythic Icarus was that he flew too close to the sun, the wax melted in his wings, the feathers fell out, and he fell to is death. Icarus falling from the sky is still one of the most striking images from Greek mythology.
History of Philosophy
One of the accounts of the origin of Aphrodite is that she was born from the foam as Ouranos's genitals fell into the sea off Cyprus -- tourists are still shown the spot (otherwise, Aphrodite is one of Zeus's many bastards -- becoming the mother of many illegitimate children herself).
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Kronos was later regarded as the god of Time because of a pun on his name, which resembles the Greek word for "time," , khrónos. We still see Kronos as "Father Time" every New Year's, usually with a baby to represent the new year, and also usually still equipped with his scythe! Perhaps this should remind us of Bhagavad Gita 11:32, , "I am all-powerful Time which destroys all things." The scythe may not just be for genitals.
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