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2891Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Odysseus in the myth of Er

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  • leslie greenhill
    Dec 1, 2009
      Thanks for the responses.  I have always been moved by the myth of Er.  It occurred to me that maybe Plato, too, must have wondered about the point of ambition.  The point of trying  ... of trying to get people to listen to ideas that mean nothing to them.  It's hard enough now.  But in Plato's time when communication was so limited compared to now, how did he manage to find interesting people to talk with?  H.D.P. Lee writes in one of his introductions to one of Plato's works that Plato was writing out from a mystical experience.  In the case of the myth of Er, (putting aside the Orphic aspects) for me, there is something different about its tone - there is a passion here that is different to the rest of the Republic.  As I have expressed before, I have Jungian interests.  So.  Say that Er is Plato.  What is he telling us about himself?  The myth says to me that by the time Plato has written the Republic he has had a lot of
      life experience.  How old would he have been?  Why did he choose Odysseus to want the life of an ordinary man and not someone else.?  Is that what Plato wanted too at the time he wrote the Republic?  Which brings me to this question.  If you had to choose one thing that Plato wrote that made you think Plato was great (one thing only) what would that thing be?

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      --- On Wed, 2/12/09, John Uebersax <john.uebersax@...> wrote:

      From: John Uebersax <john.uebersax@...>
      Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Odysseus in the myth of Er
      To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
      Received: Wednesday, 2 December, 2009, 4:33 AM


      Hello Les,

      Excellent question.

      First, perhaps one shouldn't rule out that Plato placed this as a bit of humor or literary irony to briefly entertain the reader.

      Second, what this suggests to me is that the eventual success of Odysseus' journey does not exclusively symbolize some kind of world-detached contemplative union with the One. It *does* include that, but also something more: an new, ongoing psychologically 'redeemed' level of involvement in ones daily life. This would be something like the unitive state discussed by Evelyn Underhill in her writings on mysticism -- and have something to do with a new level of egolessness.

      This idea is well expressed for me in (one interpretation of) the Zen Buddhist proverb: "Before enlightenment - chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment - chop wood, carry water." But afterward -- what a difference! The simple of joy of existence, of chopping wood and carrying water, is more evident.

      Third, if it doesn't distract from the main question, maybe it could be noted by way of context that Rep 10.620 lists choices by several people:

      Orpheus -> swan
      Thamyras -> nightingale
      Ajax -> lion
      Agamemnon -> eagle
      Atalanta -> athlete
      Epeus -> "a skilled or workmanlike woman"
      Thersites -> monkey
      Odysseus -> common man

      http://www.perseus tufts.edu/ cgi-bin/ptext? lookup=Plat. +Rep.+10. 620a

      http://oll.libertyf und.org/? option=com_ staticxt& staticfile= show.php% 3Ftitle=767& chapter=93816& layout=html& Itemid=27

      John Uebersax

      --- On Tue, 12/1/09, leslie greenhill <neoplatonist2000@ yahoo.com> wrote:

      From: leslie greenhill <neoplatonist2000@ yahoo.com>
      Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Odysseus in the myth of Er
      To: neoplatonism@ yahoogroups. com
      Date: Tuesday, December 1, 2009, 2:51 AM

      We have discussed Penelope weaving.  Anyone have any thoughts about the following passage from the myth of Er in the Republic?

      And it so happened that it fell to the soul of Odysseus to choose last of all.  The memory of his former sufferings had cured him of all ambition and he looked round for a long time to find the uneventful life of an ordinary man; at last he found it lying neglected by the others, and when he saw it he chose it with joy and said that had his lot fallen first he would have made the same choice. 


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