Not 2 - Contemporary Polemic in the Guise of Historical...

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Contemporary Polemic in the Guise of Historical Fiction The chief evidence for this view of the Apology is found in the detailed interpretation of the text that I present below. This interpretation aims to be simple and consistent, and to explain virtually the entire text and some of its most difficult conundrums in accordance with a single historically plausible hypothesis. Before setting forth this evidence, however, I need to explain in greater detail what I mean by the claim that the Apology is an essentially polemical work. Unlike Xenophon, who adopted a straightforward form of polemic, directly naming the issues he addresses in the opening chapters of the Memorabilia,29 Plato wrote polemic in the guise of historical fiction. While this means incorporating a degree of historical verisimilitude, that concern is balanced by the need to address a contemporary debate. To a certain degree the author wants his audience to know that he is addressing a contemporary debate, and therefore he may try to make it obvious that what he writes is not what really happened, but a polemical account of it. Plato offers us a model of contemporary polemic disguised as historical fiction in his Symposium. There, as part of his response to the previous speeches on love, Socrates recounts a conversation between himself and Diotima that took place years earlier. Diotima s ancient conversation concerned precisely the topic of conversation at the symposium in which Socrates was currently participating, and Diotima even managed to refer almost explicitly to the speech Aristophanes was destined to make years later at that occasion (Smp. 205e; cf. 191d 92a). When Aristophanes tries to take issue with Socrates on this point, however, he does not object to the
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Not 2 - Contemporary Polemic in the Guise of Historical...

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