Javiera’s Response to Ion
Earl’s Commentary

Summary of Plato’s Ion 

Ion comments to Socrates on his excellence as a rhapsode, proven when interpreting Homer and wonders why this is so and why he „falls asleep“ during other poets’ works. Socrates answers that Ion speaks without art; for had he art, he would be able to interpret equally well many poets, since poetry is a whole, proven by various poets speaking the same themes.  

Socrates then compares the rhapsode to an iron ring in a chain suspended from a magnetic stone The magnetic force is divine inspiration passed through the interpreter, who is the poet, to the rhapsode, who is the „interpreter of interpreters“, and finally to the spectator, whose empathetic responses to the rhapsode are the result of the passing inspiring current directed from the Muse.  

Socrates tells Ion that he is possessed by Homer as Homer was by the Muse. „You praise Homer not by art but by divine inspiration.“ Ion responds by saying that this occurs sometimes and surely he is not always „possessed“ by Homer when interpreting the entirety of his poetry. Socrates responds by explaining that due to lack of knowledge he cannot interpret certain parts of Homer, since the rhapsode ought to interpret the mind of the poet, what he means. There are trades mentioned in Homer’s work that Ion has no experience in. Socrates holds that direct experience in certain trades is necessary for interpretation. Socrates’ logical argument is carried through many instances where this is true with Ion, as he does not „know“ the trades of driving or of a physician, but his logic halts when coming across specific individual traits of Ion. In this case his logic is interrupted upon discovering that Ion is both good rhapsode and general.  

Since Ion is both of these, he cannot find difference between them. This is not the case for every rhapsode or general and the explanation for exceptions in logical arguments remains lacking in this dialogue, terminating with tension removed from the discussion as the subject turns toward Socrates inviting Ion to become a general for Athens.

Two additions would make an invaluable contribution your summaries, which in turn would be far more capable of making contributions, themselves, a larger community of inquiry (such as the one we in the seminar are in the process of forming): 

[1] Site sources for your observations, using the Stephanus numbers. Give these sources in brackets, whether or not you have included a direct quotation [in fact, the citation sources are often more important in the absence of a direct citation, so that readers can ascertain the exact texts to which you are responding. And this is in the spirit of cooperative inquiry, not necessarily in the spirit of „checking the facts,“ although that too is eminently to be desired.]  

[2] Whenever you use an ordinary English [or any modern-day spoken language] term as part of a key argument within the text in question, you should ascertain the Greek term used, and include that in brackets, along with an adequately conceptualized definition when you first introduce the term. That definition will clarify many confusions before they arise, as long as it meets two criteria: 

[a] the definition should clearly demarcate how the Greek concept differs from the ordinary understanding of the English [or other modern spoken language] term that is usually used to translate it. 

[b] the definition should justify the 

use of whatever English language term that you adopt subsequently as your translation of it. This justification also extends (in fact is) the explication of whatever ways you may be altering the ordinary usage of the English term in order to reflect the differences in the Greek.

Commentary on the turquoise text.



For Earl’s Commentary on the turquoise text, click this