Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sherlyn Wilson
Rhetoric 103A 

Socrates Accepts His Death
Benjamin Jowett translation, “Plato’s Apology 399 (B.C.E.), Socrates Makes peace with death in the wake that Meletus is charging him for the sake of accusers who wants to see Socrates punished out of envious ill will intentions and seek the revenge of evil-doers. In that he is on trial and being accused of corrupting youth and for the refusing to acknowledge the Gods of the state, Socrates has to defend himself against those who make such a fuss about an old wise man who is eloquent and articulate with speech and displays an amount of wisdom that is exalted among the youth. These plaintiffs fear that Socrates may be able to persuade the court’s judge to vote different rendering him a verdict that will spare his life for which they seek death. Socrates is of an educated background he is a proud and confident man. He didn’t boast in pride yet he had pride. He is for sure that his cause will be defended by justice knowing that he may not get a fair trial he made a request because he is well know and ask to be treated as any person who is a stranger and is given certain judicial rights to speak or be seen in a professional manner. Act as if the courts do not know of him and his ways so that he may be accepted without any biases against him before his trial can proceed. However, Socrates argues that he speaks nothing but truth and if that is to make him guilty then to let the courts make their decision for he will not fight against what is meant to be. He is obedient to the law and starts with the defense of old accusations that has followed him for many years which he feels more afraid of these lies then the associates who have spreaded them. The fact that he has to clear gossip from childhood makes for a hard task but he begins with lies of him not believing in a heavenly god. He has to defend against the ghost of these people because he can’t have them in the courts for he is fighting a battle he can’t get an answer from.
Socrates defends himself and then he comes to peace with the fact that he much rather die for the sake of truth then to agree to what his accusers are making what he believes to be false accusations. Socrates thinks that with all the trouble he is going through to prove his self worth his life may just be better after death. But Plato feels any person or human is capable to transform into a divine being after death only if they have shown high respect for standards and morals and did not consume in a materialistic lifestyle while on earth. Perhaps, Plato’s reasoning for this belief is that as long as the person didn’t worry about being a good creature then their soul makes good for a perfect transformation whatever is meant to be. However, Socrates, lack the fear of death because his understanding of death is not in the same capacity that most men fear death. Socrates feels that men only fear from a pretense of wisdom that’s unknown so why be foolish about that which we do not know or been through before.
Socrates had more of an optimistic view on his death than most persons would be, he felt that if he reflected on death as a greater good then he had reason to hope that death will bring him one of two things “either death is a state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness, or as men say, a change in migration of the soul to another world. (98)”  He makes reference that there is a possibility that his death or death in general could be the way that a soul may be brought to a peaceful slumber sleep or that the person will be able to talk to those of the past and could ask for guidance and seek peace in questions of unknown truthful knowledge that hinders the burdens of the body. Thus, death would be a way to be able to get answers or even deliverance from the ones who proceed over the justice system. Socrates knows he will die no matter how much he tries to clear his name and the accusations that he claims to be in a negative view point of his accusers, but he is alright with his outcome. He doesn’t like the fact that the ones who are the condemning squad will freely live on. He goes on to question if it’s a good decision for him to die and them to live which he focus on for a short time because he is still at peace of mind with the decision and acknowledges that only God knows what’s righteous and fair. However, he knows that he’ll soon meet his end and depart into a life of eternity somewhere somehow just not sure of in what way. I learned the he has so embraced his departure from this earthly burdens that he has begged a favor of the courts to do the same as to punish his sons when they get older to trouble them as he has troubled the courts and the accusers if they are to desire riches or anything more than righteousness, or if they pretend to be more than mediocre. He wants no son of his to think that he is above justice. He believes even in his death that pilgrimage would be worth traveling as to another world that has peace and tranquility. He makes death out to be a glorious experience that one should look forward to. I almost felt like it was some place I would like to go. He makes sure to say that if the court's think by killing him that his accusers will leave everyone at their own life, well they are truly mistakenly wrong; because the accusers will find someone else to victimize. And it just may be that in the judicial system. He goes on to make clear that he is also pleased with infinite delight in fact that he will be allowed to converse with the leaders of the great Trojan expedition or Odysseus or Sisyphus or a great number of others. He sounds like he has influenced himself in knowing he will find certainty in being happier in a place that you can no longer be put to death he would become immortal if what is expected as he does. He longs to meet his sons in the future and almost gives his blessings to the courts for his death in receiving his justice at the mercy of Meletus.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Precis and the Figurative Reading

As promised this Thursday, I am posting a brief but more detailed description of the two short 2-3pp. written assignments required for this course in addition to the longer final paper (which you don't really have to worry about yet) and the notebook and participation/attendance requirements (which you have already been doing all along -- I sincerely hope). One of the short writing assignments is to be a precis of an argument in one of our assigned texts and the other is a figurative reading of a passage in one of our assigned texts. I leave it to you which assignment you wish to do first. Although there are deadlines for the two papers -- midnight Saturday, October 7, for the first one; midnight Saturday, November 25, for the second one -- I encourage you to do these assignments when it is convenient for you from now right up to the deadline, the earlier the better.

For the purposes of this assignment, a precis is an argumentative paraphrase, it is rather like a short straightforward book report, but one in which you are recapitulating in your own words what you take to be the key argumentative moves made in a short passage of your own choosing from one of our assigned texts. Do not attempt to summarize the argument of an entire long work, choose a specific passage you can get a handle on in just two or so pages. Also, please understand, I am not asking you to make an argument about the text, I am not asking you to explain why you think an argument is effective or not, I am not asking you to argue with the author: I am asking you to identify the terms of the argument the author is making as you understand them. The simplest way to describe what the precis should involve is to say it will probably identify a thesis or claim in your chosen passage and then observe the reasons, evidence and illustrations (this might include some figurative content) that support that thesis in your view. Depending on the rhetorical skill-set you have at your command, you might also highlight key definitions of terms, anticipations and circumventions of objections, qualifications of claims, unstated warrants (stuff you may remember from studying the Toulmin schema for argument), ethos and pathos moves, implicit premises in enthymemes (stuff you may remember from studying Aristotelian rhetoric), strategies like delayed thesis, modeling listening, preemptive compromise (stuff you may remember from studying Rogerian synthesis or mediation rhetoric). All of these elements are useful in a precis, but a propositional analysis emphasizing relations of entailment between premises and conclusions and relations of empirical support between claims and evidence and data will be the bread and butter of most precises.

For the purposes of this assignment, a figurative analysis is an examination of the way figures and style produce argumentative effects (clarity, memorableness, urgency, pleasure, and so on) in the textual passage you have chosen. It is perfectly natural that a figurative reading would involve the identification and close reading or unpacking of a few key metaphors (whether treated in isolation or in relation to one another) in your passage. But it is useful to recall -- and our readings of both Aristotle and Quintilian later in the term will include foundational and still influential discussions of these topics -- that figurative language includes both tropes (from tropos, or turn, referring to turns of phrase, deviations in sense from literal language) and schemes (which call attention to the materiality of language itself and are often deviations from customary usage or form). Tropes include metaphor -- as I mentioned before -- but also metonymy, synecdoche and irony (what Kenneth Burke called, following Quintilian, the Four Master Tropes, and which every self-respecting rhetorician should know well), and many other delightful deviancies, like paradox, hyperbole, litotes, extended analogy, allegory, and so on. Schemes includes alliteration and assonance (which you may remember from the study of literature), but also onomatopoeia, chiasmus (a personal fave), auxesis, anastrophe, ellipses, and so much more. In lecture last time around I mentioned a book by Richard Lanham, A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms -- I gave it a looksee and found copies available for ten bucks or so used at Amazon for those eager for a deeper dive.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Monday, September 5, 2016

Donovan and Kennedy Have A Spat

In the notes to Brian Donovan's translation of the "Encomium of Helen," which we will be discussing in lecture Tuesday, mention is made of George Kennedy's slick but perhaps not quite strictly literal translation of section 12. As you can see from my transcription below, this version is indeed more euphonious but the gist is mostly the same where it matters most (or so I would say), but Kennedy has made the rough places smooth if not always in well-warranted ways:

"What cause then prevents the conclusion that Helen similarly, against her will, might have come under the influence of speech, just as if ravished by the force of the mighty? For it was possible to see how the force of persuasion prevails; persuasion has the form of necessity, but it does not have the same power. For speech constrained the soul, persuading it which it persuaded, both to believe the things said and to approve the things done. The persuader, like the constrainer, does the wrong and the persuaded, like the constrained, in speech is wrongly charged."

Mary Beard on Homeric (And Other) Silencing of Women's Words and Deeds

I spoke Thursday of the Iliad's celebration of "words and deeds" (and its concomitant insistence that words ARE deeds) as the delineation of a masculine conception of agency -- I described it rather bluntly as an agency "at once assertive and insertive" you may remember -- a patriarchal conception of agency that would continue to resonate in text after text we read together this term. It is in this spirit that I thought I would direct you to asupplemental text, entirely optional, by Mary Beard (one of the more popular and vital classicists we have going) in which she provides a complementary discussion of a woman's ejection from the space of words and deeds early in Homer's companion epic The Odyssey. Beard's piece connects these questions to contemporary concerns in ways that I hope you are already beginning to think about on your own -- but she also goes on to survey some of the authors (Aristophanes, Ovid) we will be reading in weeks to come (if not always the exact texts of theirs I have chosen to highlight) and even provides a key preview of a late upcoming attraction, our discussion of Hortensia near the end of term. I realize that this course is already reading intensive, but I do like to provide optional supplemental texts for particular purposes for those of you who might find you are getting bitten by the bug of classics/philology/feminism via our readings together.