American Philological AssociationCallimachus on Plato and CleombrotusAuthor(s): Stephen A. WhiteSource: Transactions of the American Philological Association (1974-), Vol. 124 (1994), pp. 135-161Published by: The Johns Hopkins University PressStable URL: .Accessed: 12/09/2013 16:30Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at..JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected].American Philological Associationand The Johns Hopkins University Pressare collaborating with JSTOR todigitize, preserve and extend access to Transactions of the American Philological Association (1974-).This content downloaded from 220.127.116.11 on Thu, 12 Sep 2013 16:30:31 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Transactions ofthe American Philological Association 124 (1994) 135-161 Callimachus on Plato and Cleombrotus* Stephen A. White University of Texas at Austin Philosophy, Herophilus might have warned, can be hazardous to your health. Reading Plato can even be fatal; or so suggests theepitaph Callimachus com- posed for Cleombrotus (Ep. 23 Pfeiffer=53 GP=Anth. 7.471). E'ica; "HXt Xaipe, Kke6p4opoco; 0Ppaictnii; iXaX a'&p' nRXoic teixco; iS; 'A16lv, a`,tov 00&8V i8OV oavato) Kaicvov, a&xa Hkatovo; '? 0 W?i n pa' avaaW . Saying "Sun, farewell!" Cleombrotus th' Ambraciot leapt from a lofty wall into Hades below, not having seen any evil deserving of death; he'd only read the single tome, Plato's On the soul. The story is bizarre, even shocking: a book induced a man to kill himself. The culprit, moreover, recounts another's death; Plato's "single writing On the soul" is of course the Phaedo, which enables Socrates' deathbed musings to reach beyond thegrave.1 It is not surprising, then, that modern critics typically consider the epigram a witty trifle, pleasant but inconsequential. Its depiction of suicide seems pointed rather than poignant, and like much of Hellenistic poetry, thepoem is praised for ironic distance, notpathos. Many suggest that Callimachus sought to ridicule belief in an afterlife by commemorating a fool's leap of faith: "if the views expressed in [Ep. 23] represent C's own beliefs he presumably thought Cleombrotus a fool for his pains" (Gow and Page 204). Some proposea specific polemical target: Des Places (56) considers the epi- gram "ironique et dirige contre l'enseignement de Platon sur l'immortalite'; Riginos (181) suggests that it "parodies the doctrine of the Phaedo." Only Wi- *A shorter version ofthis paper was delivered at the 1992 APA meeting in NewOrleans.