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Plato: Menexenus David Sansone (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

Plato: Menexenus By David Sansone (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)


In Menexenus Plato depicts an elderly Socrates reciting an inspiring funeral oration learned from his teacher Aspasia, although such a scenario is entirely fictional. The work reveals Plato's mastery of prose style and his critique of rhetoric and democratic ideology. Suitable for intermediate and advanced students of ancient Greek.

Plato: Menexenus Summary

Plato: Menexenus by David Sansone (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

Plato challenges his readers by depicting an elderly Socrates as an enthusiastic student of rhetoric who has learned from his teacher Aspasia to recite an inspiring funeral oration, an oration that conspicuously refers to events occurring after the deaths of Socrates and Aspasia, an oration that Aspasia, as a woman and a non-Athenian, was not eligible to deliver over the Athenians who died in war. This commentary, the first in English in over 100 years, assists the modern reader in confronting Plato's challenge. The Introduction sets the dialogue in the context of the traditional Athenian funeral oration and of Plato's ongoing critique of contemporary rhetoric. The Commentary, which is well suited to the needs and interests of intermediate students of Classical Greek, provides guidance on grammatical and historical matters, while allowing the student to appreciate Plato's mastery of Greek prose style and critique of democratic ideology.

About David Sansone (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

David Sansone is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Classics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In a career of over forty years he has taught a great variety of courses, and these have often inspired his publications, including Ancient Greek Civilization (3rd ed. 2017) and Greek Athletics and the Genesis of Sport (1988). The main focus of his research, however, has been on Greek language and literature, especially Attic tragedy and its influence on the development of Greek prose; his book Greek Drama and the Invention of Rhetoric (2012) argues for the decisive effect Greek tragedy had on the creation of a formal art of rhetoric in fifth-century Greece.

Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. The Athenian state funeral; 2. The epitaphios logos; 3. The Menexenus of Plato; A note on the presentation of the text; Text; Commentary; Bibliography.

Additional information

Plato: Menexenus by David Sansone (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
Cambridge University Press
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