Ah, the Menexenus. Honestly, I'm not a Plato scholar so I didn't know about it at all before this class. But, if you get the Thucydides-Plato combo I pushed last post, you get to do a cool comparison between funeral orations. Good stuff.
Below are two versions of paragraph summaries we did for last Friday's class. The first summary was done by two (unnamed) lovely ladies from my class, and the second is mine. Check out the differences--mine is more historical, theirs is more conceptual. Proves there's more than one way to analyze a text, and that you don't need a PhD to do it.
You may work in groups of 1-3, but all students should have notes in class Friday.
Read 236.d-246a (p.37-50)
Write one sentence/phrase per paragraph that finds the point while summarizing
Decide if you would group these paragraphs into larger sections
This is transcribed exactly from student notes with the students’ permissions.
Socrates recalling what Aspasia has told him
236a (Honor) The men who have fallen deserve tribute.
237b The current generation is the most superior in Athens (implies born in Athens).
237c It is an honor for Athens to be respected by the gods.
237d (Superior) Athens is worthy of praise.
The gods praise us, so we are praiseworthy.
238b Gods have provided for Athens, so Athenians should be grateful (military, natural resources).
Athens needs/received help in order to achieve greatness.
Gods deemed them great, so they are great.
239a (Superior) Athens’ democracy is unique and praiseworthy.
Is it referring to transition: slavery -> democracy?
241c Greeks are courageous by nature (ancestors were courageous).
241d Civil war of Greece?
242a Athens not responsible for war.
242c Athens only takes credit when credit is earned. Is credit actually due?
242c (Honor) Athens will help those in need.
243c Preparation always occurring? Athens believes they are prepared in nature.
244c Athenians are self-reliant/don’t rely on allies.
249b (Courage) They are willing to help others, but are not willing to accept help.
246a Fallen are praiseworthy.
239a&d/241c Fallen deserve tribute.
*The first numbers refer to paragraphs, with Stephanus numbers after the comma.*
Good speeches can bring more honor than good deeds.
These men honored their mother country and we should all praise her, the source of our greatness.
Our country is most praised by gods and men.
Our country is praised for creating and sustaining intelligent life (human beings).
Our ancestors created our noble and praiseworthy aristocracy with its virtue of equality and blessing of the multitude.
Our good heritage and birth led to our nobility, which has been documented by poets in part but we must expand on it here so that no one forgets and future poets can write about us.
The Persians once enslaved all men, including us—despite our greatness—they enslaved us and our minds.
The Athenians and Spartans rose up against barbarians at Marathon and gave birth to our freedom.
Those at sea battles (Salamis) enhanced our reputation for freedom among all Greeks.
Platea was “greatest and most difficult” but successful due to the joint work of Athens and Sparta.
The reports of the King of Barbarians destroying Greece led to a battle that gave “full safety.”
All Greeks loved Athens until their desire to emulate turned to envy.
Athens won over Sparta not necessarily in battle, but definitely in helping Greeks be free.
Athens vanquished them but made peace and did not destroy them.
In the third war, the Greeks hated Athens so much that they asked the King to help. Thus Athens “took them down” all together.
Athens wasn’t overcome in any war but the inner discord brought on by the tyrants hurt them; fortunately, the exiles deposed them. (See footnote 28!)
Athens wanted peace but eventually Sparta’s aggression led Athens to intervene for the sake of freedom of other Greeks and even the King. But then the Greeks re-enslaved themselves.
Athens was winning against Sparta, so the King got scared, which led the other Greek allies to desert Athens, and Athens was left alone in its pure Greek virtue.
The nobility of Athens’ dead ancestors means Athenians today must strive to be good and noble.
Note: As far as I can tell, the King always refers to the king of Persia.