POL SCI 202 MIDTERM - Victoria Chihos POL 202 Mid Semester...

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Victoria Chihos POL 202 Mid Semester Exam October 16, 2007 Aristophanes, ever the comedian, presents Socrates in a satirical and cynical light that solicits negative attention from the public. Aristophanes, through a clever exchange of dialogue between the main characters in Clouds, displays Socrates as a corruptor of the youth and a critic of Zeus. These are harsh accusations that are punishable by law in ancient Athens however (as I will later discuss) they are not so far from the truth. Aristophanes’ Clouds is a comedic exchange of dialogue between the old buffoonish debtor, Strepsiades, the philosopher Socrates and Pheidippides, Strepsiades’s son. Strepsiades is in debt and seeks to learn the practice of “just speech” to talk his way out of his debts however Strepsiades later decides that his son would be a better student of Socrates and after much argument Pheidippides agrees to go an learn from Socrates. One of the first and most shocking images of Socrates and the rest of his follower students is one of filth and toxicity. It is known by most in Athens that students of Socrates are taught to abandon the wants of the physical world and the obligations of cleanliness and health in pursuit of the truth. The students of Socrates with which Strepsiades speaks are all long haired, pale and unkempt as if they have not eaten or sleep for days. In this way Aristophanes begins to paint this picture of Socrates and philosophy as toxic to a healthy way of being. The flea ridden mattress that Strepsiades carries out (at line 634) is a physical manifestation of this idea of the pollution of philosophy. Socrates is teaching the youth of Athens to be unclean and insensitive to the ordinary decency of life. The corruption of youth is also seen in the Clouds through the effect that Socrates teachings have on the young athletic sportsman son of Strepsiades. He is no longer
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obedient to his father and engages in “father beating” as is a direct violation of the laws of Athens. Pheidippides then condones through speech the beating of his own mother by using the justifications of Socrates and “just speech” in his defense of such action. By teaching the youth of Athens to question authority and attend to the art of philosophy above all, he disrupts the whole social order of Athens. The second claim against Socrates as so illustrated in the
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course POL 202 taught by Professor Stevens during the Fall '07 term at Gettysburg.

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POL SCI 202 MIDTERM - Victoria Chihos POL 202 Mid Semester...

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