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A Sophist ‘in disguise’: a reconstruction of Damon of Oa and his role in Plato’s dialogues

Tosca Lynch

Résumé

This article presents a new examination of the Platonic passages that feature Damon of Oa, the famous musical theorist who was exiled from Athens apparently because of his close relationship with Pericles. The interpretation presented in this article contrasts sharply with the mainstream scholarly representation of Damon as a conservative musicologist with some vague ‘Pythagoreanising’ leaning, who allegedly personified in Plato’s view the ‘ideal’ authority with regard to musical matters. This representation does not seem to stand up to a close reading of the Platonic texts if all the extant evidence is taken into account, without preconceptions based on the supposedly ‘real’ meaning of the relevant passages of the Republic (3.400a-c, 4.424b-d).
Instead, a complete examination of the Platonic passages mentioning Damon shows that he is consistently characterised as a ‘sophistic’ type of intellectual: an attractive companion for young men, capable of teaching them very useful linguistic and musical skills. But, as the texts show, his sophistic intellectual activity did not entail only educational practices: on the contrary, this research led him to achieve true expertise in the classification of musical means and their psychagogic effects. However, given that Damon’s ‘scientific’ approach to the question did not aim at determining a stable hierarchy of ethical value, in the Republic Plato could not merely take his results as a ready-made solution for the music-related educational needs of the ideal city. Instead Plato seems to select some modes and rhythms from the whole set of results obtained by Damon, on the basis of the ethical stimuli that he deemed appropriate for the children of kallipolis.
Plato seems to follow the same approach also in Book 4 of the Republic, where Socrates quotes Damon’s aphorism concerning the mutual correlation of musical and political nomoi. Differently from what is often stated by the interpreters, Damon’s words do not imply the complex argument presented by Socrates in the previous sections of the text, and especially not the indictment of musical innovation: Damon’s expression reflects simply a psycho-sociological observation. All the additional ethical implications stated by Socrates, which derive from the idea that musical and political changes imply some kind of dangerous modifications in the city and the souls that inhabit it, are nothing else than the result of Plato’s use of Damon’s theories.

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  • 1 Plut. Per. 4.2: ὁ δὲ Δάμων ἔοικεν ἄκρος ὢν σοφιστὴς καταδύεσθαι μὲν εἰς τὸ τῆς μουσικῆς ὄνομα πρὸς (...)
  • 2 Plut. Per. 4.3-4: οὐ μὴν ἔλαθεν ὁ Δάμων τῇ λύρᾳ παρακαλύμματι χρώμενος, ἀλλ᾽ ὡς μεγαλοπράγμων καὶ φ (...)
  • 3 Cf. Arist. Ath. Pol. 27.4, Plut. Per. 4, Arist. 1, Nic. 6, Liban. Socr. Apol. 1.157 with Wallace (2 (...)

1In a well-known passage of Plutarch’s Pericles, Damon is distinctively depicted as a ‘first-rate sophist (ἄκρος ὢν σοφιστής)’ who ‘found refuge behind the name of music in order to disguise his cleverness before the multitude, while he associated with Pericles, as if he were the trainer and teacher of this champion of politics’.1 Plutarch continues by observing that Damon’s attempt to ‘employ the lyre as a veil’2 turned out to be extremely unsuccessful, as he was ostracised and became the object of the satirical verve of comic poets: a double rejection, physical and cultural, seems to be the ultimate destiny for this important member of Pericles’ circle.3

  • 4 For recent examples of this approach, cf. Delattre (2007), Delattre (1994) and Ritoók (2001), who b (...)

2Plutarch’s testimony stands in sharp contrast to the mainstream scholarly representation of Damon: a conservative musicologist with some vague ‘Pythagoreanising’ leaning4 who, in Plato’s view, personified the ‘ideal’ authority with regard to musical matters. But what if Plutarch’s testimony presents a historically legitimate alternative? And, on the other hand, what if the image of Damon that is generally attributed to Plato should be regarded as not such a ‘pure’ and historically reliable one as many scholars seem to believe?

  • 5 Cf. the aforementioned Ritoók (2001), Ryffel (1947), Lasserre (1954) and Koller (1954). A different (...)

3In order to assess this last point, it is worth examining what Plato actually wrote about Damon, since many reconstructions of Plato’s views on this historical character seem to be based on fairly imaginative and partial readings of the musical passages in Books 3 and 4 of the Republic.5

The Characterisation of Damon in Plato

4There are nine explicit mentions of Damon in the Platonic corpus: in addition to the well-known passages of the Republic, four references appear in the Laches, one in the First Alcibiades and one, finally, in the opening section of the pseudo-Platonic Axiochus.

  • 6 The question of this dialogue’s authenticity has widely been discussed: cf. the recent assessments (...)

5I would like to start from the First Alcibiades,6 a text that has often been overlooked in previous works on Damon. However, in my view it provides a fresh starting point to reconstruct Damon’s intellectual profile and the perspective opened by this apparently ‘minor’ passage allows us to avoid the risk of interpreting all the Platonic references to Damon on the basis of what is regarded as the ‘real’ meaning of the ‘Damonian’ passages of the Republic. While these texts certainly contain very important information for our purposes, they need to be contextualised precisely within Plato’s own agenda in order to be understood correctly and, for these reasons, they will be examined in later sections of this essay.

6First of all, we should look at the context of the relevant passage of the First Alcibiades, 118c. Socrates has just forced the young Alcibiades to admit a critical fault in his own intellectual preparation: he has not mastered the type of self-knowledge that, in Socrates’ view, represents the necessary prerequisite for someone who desires to engage actively in politics. This kind of knowledge will be later defined as ‘taking care’ (ἐπιμέλεσθαι/ἐπιμελεῖσθαι) of one’s own soul (Alc. 1 133d-134a), that is to say knowing how to govern one’s own thoughts and emotions before moving on to take the lead in public and political affairs. Immediately after exposing Alcibiades’ ignorance, Socrates adds that this lack of knowledge is common to almost all contemporary politicians, admitting only the possible exception of Pericles (Alc. 1 118c). At this point Alcibiades, hurt in his pride by this unfavourable comparison with his relative and guardian, replies bluntly as follows:

Λέγεταί γέ τοι, ὦ Σώκρατες, οὐκ ἀπὸ τοῦ αὐτομάτου σοφὸς γεγονέναι, ἀλλὰ πολλοῖς καὶ σοφοῖς συγγεγονέναι, καὶ Πυθοκλείδῃ καὶ Ἀναξαγόρᾳ· καὶ νῦν ἔτι τηλικοῦτος ὢν Δάμωνι σύνεστιν αὐτοῦ τούτου ἕνεκα. (Alc. 1 118c4-7)

It is said, Socrates, that he [scil. Pericles] did not become wise spontaneously, but kept the company of numerous wise men, such as Pythocleides and Anaxagoras: and these days he still spends time with Damon for the exact same reason.

  • 7 Cf. Podlecki (1998), 17-34. See as well Arist. Ath. Pol. 27.4, where both the close connection betw (...)
  • 8 On the musical activities of Pythocleides, especially in relation to Damon, cf. section 4: ‘Music, (...)

7In just a few lines, Alcibiades presents a very interesting outline of the characters that populated the intellectual environment of Pericles’ youth and maturity: Anaxagoras, Pythocleides and Damon, all generically included in the category of σοφοί.7 Strikingly enough, in such a short description Damon is not explicitly associated with any musical element, the aspect that is generally regarded as the most important feature of this historical character. Instead, the value of his presence is openly associated with his capability to make Pericles a ‘wise man’ (σοφός), just as Pythocleides8 and Anaxagoras allegedly used to do when he was younger.

  • 9 The exact same expression (διδάσκαλος μουσικῆς) is used to describe Damon in the pseudo-Platonic Ax (...)

8Bearing in mind the apparently simple, yet rarely emphasised testimony of the Alcibiades, let us move on to the Laches. Damon’s intellectual figure is evoked in numerous passages of this dialogue but, in itself, the abundance of references to him is pretty unsurprising, given that this dialogue is mainly concerned with the educational needs of two well-born young boys, the sons of Lysimachus and Melesias. In contrast with the unusual characterisation of the First Alcibiades, here Damon is presented in a more predictable way, primarily as a teacher of music.9 However, as Nicias subsequently observes, Damon is not only a teacher of music:

Καὶ γὰρ αὐτῷ μοι ἔναγχος ἄνδρα προυξένησε τῷ ὑεῖ διδάσκαλον μουσικῆς, Ἀγαθοκλέους μαθητὴν Δάμωνα, ἀνδρῶν χαριέστατον οὐ μόνον τὴν μουσικήν, ἀλλὰ καὶ τἆλλα ὁπόσου βούλει ἄξιον συνδιατρίβειν τηλικούτοις νεανίσκοις. (Lach. 180d1-5)

For he [scil. Socrates] recently introduced to myself a teacher of music for my son: Damon, the pupil of Agathocles, the most accomplished of all men not only so far as music is concerned, but also in every other respect as worthy to associate with as you could wish for young people of that age.

  • 10 Cf. Soph. 234b1, Resp. 4.426e5, Phaedr. 230b6, Prot. 309b1, Prot. 320c7. Interestingly, in Philod. (...)
  • 11 In relation to this, cf. Plato Apol. 20b4-5, the only passage of this text where Socrates uses the (...)

9First of all, we are told that it was Socrates who recommended and introduced Damon to Nicias as a teacher of music for his son. Once more, an apparently minor observation is very precious for our analysis, since the fact that Socrates and Damon knew each other and that Socrates appreciated Damon’s skills, at least to the extent of recommending him as a teacher, is presented as a fairly unproblematic detail of the historical context of the dialogue – a characterisation that would not make much sense if this were not a pretty well-known piece of information. Moreover, in this passage Damon is characterised as being χαριέστατος (‘the most accomplished and graceful’), a very rare adjective in the superlative form in Plato’s prose,10 not only with regard to music but also for some other ‘mysterious’ kind of expertise, which makes him a generally valuable companion for young men who are looking for advanced education.11

  • 12 Lach. 199e13-200a3.

10Damon’s special skills are explicitly evoked again later in the dialogue, for instance when Laches, making fun of Nicias’ inability to define what courage is, ironically refers to the big hopes he had in him and in ‘the wisdom he acquired from Damon (τῇ παρὰ τοῦ Δάμωνος σοφίᾳ)’.12 Once more this passage refers to the enigmatic knowledge that Damon transmitted to his associates and pupils, but we again have no specific indications about its nature.

  • 13 Cf. Gorgias DK 82 B 11.1.1-3: Κόσμος πόλει μὲν εὐανδρία, σώματι δὲ κάλλος, ψυχῇ δὲ σοφία, πράγματι (...)

11Luckily, the content of Damon’s σοφία is explicitly examined in the immediately preceding passage, where we are presented with another of Laches’ attempts to make fun of Nicias for his subtle conceptual distinctions, in this case concerning the differences between the notions of fearlessness and courage (Lach. 197b-c). The precise words used to describe Nicias’ ability are illuminating: Laches labels his expertise in playing on subtle abstract nuances as being able to ἑαυτόν κοσμεῖν τῷ λόγ (Lach. 197c2-3), an expression that perhaps evokes some Gorgianic echoes.13 But this is not the only reason to think of Damon’s σοφία as a type of ‘sophistic’ wisdom; Socrates himself makes this association explicit in his own following statement, as he tells off Laches for his negative attitude towards Nicias:

καὶ γάρ μοι δοκεῖς οὐδὲ ᾐσθῆσθαι ὅτι ταύτην τὴν σοφίαν παρὰ Δάμωνος τοῦ ἡμετέρου ἑταίρου παρείληφεν, ὁ δὲ Δάμων τῷ Προδίκῳ πολλὰ πλησιάζει, ὃς δὴ δοκεῖ τῶν σοφιστῶν κάλλιστα τὰ τοιαῦτα ὀνόματα διαιρεῖν. (Lach. 197d1-6)

For it seems to me that you have not realised that he [scil. Nicias] received such wisdom from our friend Damon, and Damon actually spends lots of time with Prodicus, who is regarded as the best of the sophists in dividing these kinds of names.

  • 14 See e.g. Plato Prot. 341c7-8. Cf. Kerferd (1981) chap. 7 for a very useful overview on the subject.
  • 15 Cf. Crat. 391b-c and Crat. 384b. Prodicus, in particular, is associated with this theme in numerous (...)
  • 16 Cf. the aforementioned Edmunds (2006), as well as the slightly different position defended by Tell (...)

12Finally Damon’s wisdom is given some content: it is clearly associated with Prodicus’ investigations into the correctness of names (ὀνομάτων ὀρθότης) and into the related question of establishing accurate terminological distinctions (ὀρθῶς διαιρεῖν), both well-known sophistic preoccupations.14 As Plato tells us in the Cratylus, a dialogue entirely devoted to these questions, sophists of the calibre of Protagoras and Prodicus were famous experts in this τέχνη and expensive teachers of this skill.15 However, in apparent contrast with the recurrent Platonic critical attitude towards the so-called ‘sophists’,16 here Socrates depicts Damon as ‘friend of ours’ (ὁ ἡμέτερος ἑταῖρος): why does he choose this expression?

  • 17 Hipp. maj. 282c1-6 and Resp. 6.496b (Theages). On Socrates’ use of vocatives in Plato’s dialogues, (...)
  • 18 Cf. Halliwell (1995), 95: ‘the force of the term hetairos on Socrates’ lips, or on those of his ass (...)

13While, on the one hand, this remark could be interpreted simply as an ironic note that warns the reader not to take the content of Socrates’ words at face value, it does not seem plausible to reduce it just to this function, given that the role attributed to his expertise does not seem completely and obviously negative; moreover, it is worth noting that the expression ὁ ἡμέτερος ἑταῖρος is quite rare in Plato’s dialogues and is always used by Socrates to designate a character that somehow manages to make a positive contribution to the development of the dialogue.17 Still, why does Damon belong to the category of ‘friends’ or even to that of ‘companions’18? And, also, why does Socrates distinguish between sophistic ‘friends’ and ‘enemies’?

  • 19 Personal prestige and wealth in the case of the sophists; the case of Theages is more complex: cf. (...)

14In my view, it is possible to find an answer to these questions by focusing on the actual quality of the intellectual results achieved respectively by the two ‘categories’ of sophists mentioned in Plato. In fact, the Platonic Socrates seems to accept as ‘friends’ those intellectuals who, although ultimately aiming at different ends,19 actually managed to provide some kind of valuable contribution to intellectual research. Despite the fact that, in the case of many sophists, these theoretical achievements were exploited in order to increase one’s prestige and power, Plato seems to think that the quality of the achievements themselves, independently of their actual use, should be recognised and praised.

  • 20 Cf. Aristoph. Nub. 360-ff., where the Clouds state that, among the contemporary meteorosophistai, t (...)
  • 21 Interestingly, in these passages Socrates undertakes a type of literary analysis of Simonides’ ode (...)
  • 22 Prot. 341a1: κινδυνεύει γάρ τοι, ὦ Πρωταγόρα, ἡ Προδίκου σοφία θεία τις εἶναι πάλαι, ἤτοι ἀπὸ Σιμων (...)
  • 23 Prot. 341a5: ἐγὼ ἔμπειρος διὰ τὸ μαθητὴς εἶναι Προδίκου τουτουΐ.
  • 24 Cf. Plato Charm. 163d, Meno 96d and Crat. 384b-c: here Socrates specifies that he could afford only (...)
  • 25 Prot. 341d6-9: Ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐγὼ οἶμαι, ἔφην, ὦ Πρωταγόρα, τοῦτο λέγειν Σιμωνίδην, καὶ Πρόδικόν γε τόνδε (...)
  • 26 Cf. Symp. 177b4, where ὁ βέλτιστος Πρόδικος is defined as a χρηστὸς σοφιστής and his Encomium of He (...)

15This attitude is attested also in the characterisation of another ‘good’ sophist20 in Plato’s writings, Prodicus – precisely the person who is presented as Damon’s regular associate in the Laches. Mentioned over forty times in the dialogues, Prodicus is often praised for his interventions and, in general, his character appears to be valuable for the overall development of the philosophical analysis undertaken in the contexts where he is mentioned or appears in person; however, at the same time Plato seems to feel the need to highlight the potential danger of his philosophical approach, if taken entirely seriously, by accompanying these flattering remarks with a light touch of irony. This ambiguity in Plato’s approach to Prodicus’ intellectual figure is demonstrated clearly in a passage from the Protagoras, 339e-342a. Here Socrates, in calling upon Prodicus to help him in interpreting the real meaning of Simonides’ poem,21 describes his linguistic σοφία as ‘divine’ (θεία)22 and even calls himself a disciple of his23 – a declaration that is repeated also in other dialogues and that is never associated with any other sophist.24 This surprising statement is soon clarified by Socrates, as he highlights one aspect of Prodicus’ sophia which is strikingly similar to his own method of inquiry: Prodicus knows how to ‘play’ (παίζειν) with his interlocutors on the subtle differences between near-synonyms, sometimes even concealing what his real opinion is on some specific matter, as happens for instance in this passage of the Protagoras, in order to ‘test’ (ἀποπειρᾶσθαι) other people’s ability to support their own statements (τῷ λόγῳ βοηθεῖν):25 this technique certainly strikes us as very much ‘Socratic’. Therefore, while the definition of Prodicus’ wisdom as ‘divine’ is clearly excessive, nonetheless it represents a sort of first step that helped Socrates to acquire the linguistic skills that subsequently he was to employ in an ethically ‘correct’ way in his quest for virtue.26

  • 27 It is also worth noting that in this passage the ‘sinister’ aspect of Prodicus’ skill seems to be r (...)

16It does not seem accidental, then, that the expression ὁ ἡμέτερος ἑταῖρος, which characterised Damon in the Laches, is the same that the Platonic Socrates uses to illustrate his relationship with Prodicus at Hipp. Maj. 282c1-6:27 both are considered ‘dangerously’ skilled sophists who, nonetheless, deserve to be openly praised and to be considered as ‘companions’ for the useful, if collateral, achievements of their intellectual research.

The Role of Damon in Book 3 of the Republic

17In the famous passages mentioning Damon in Republic 3, the results that qualify him as a ‘good’ sophist are referred to explicitly, although in a rather sketchy manner with regard to the ethical implications of his technical discoveries.

  • 28 Ἁρμονία is a concept that we tend to link to our idea of tonality, though it would be more correct (...)

18First of all, it is necessary to outline briefly the context in which Damon’s name is mentioned in Book 3, his first appearance in the text of the Republic. Socrates and Glaucon are discussing the technical aspects of the musical education that will be imparted to the future Guardians of kallipolis. At the centre of Socrates’ analysis of musical language lies the ethical role that ἁρμονίαι28 and rhythms will play in the educational system of the ideal constitution, specifically by representing particular types of behaviour by means of musical constructions. Applying the same criteria employed to select the appropriate themes to be treated in poetic μῦθοι, Socrates begins his analysis by enumerating the types of behaviour that will not be appropriate for the future φύλακες: indulging in dirges and laments as well as in drunkenness, softness and laziness. Then, after having curiously addressed Glaucon as μουσικός (3.399e1), Socrates asks him to state what musical ἁρμονίαι are suitable to represent those specific ethical dispositions, so that the musical modes associated with undesirable attitudes may be excluded from the musical repertoire available to children in kallipolis.

  • 29 On the malleable nature of young minds, cf. Resp. 2.377a11-b5, 2.377c1-6; on the role of μίμησις in (...)

19Subsequently, Socrates moves on to identifying the ‘positive’ ethical characteristics that, instead, need to be expressed by the ἁρμονίαι allowed in the ideal city in order to stimulate the young citizens to imitate them: this form of repeated ‘imitation’, as Socrates emphasises, will help them to interiorise these dispositions in their souls, due to the quasi-magical and pre-rational moulding effect that music exerts on young and malleable people.29 In order to characterise these ‘positive’ models, Socrates presents two separate, but complementary, categories of attitudes and actions to be represented in music: the first will feature the actions and words of a person who, when at war or in otherwise painful circumstances, faces these situations bravely and with self-control; the second will comprehend the actions of a person who, in peaceful times, is capable both of entertaining significant and pleasant relationships with other citizens and of maintaining a well-balanced relationship with himself, being serene and self-controlled. In a more concise formulation, the first musical mode will give musical shape to the virtue of ἀνδρεία, the second to σωφροσύνη, and Glaucon identifies the two ἁρμονίαι respectively with the Dorian and Phrygian.

  • 30 3.400a3-4.
  • 31 This kind of classification divides the fundamental rhythms on the basis of thesis-arsis pairs (fee (...)
  • 32 3.400a7-8. Cf. also Wallace (2005), which contains many useful observations, although some of the a (...)

20Socrates, then, asks Glaucon to make the same type of ‘ethical’ distinction with regard to rhythms30 but, surprisingly, the young man declares himself unable to undertake this task appropriately. Glaucon mentions an elementary, empirical division of rhythms into three categories, on the basis of the ratio established between the internal components of different rhythmical feet,31 but affirms himself incapable of telling Socrates ‘what sorts of life each of them is an imitation of (ποῖα δ’ ὁποίου βίου μιμήματα, λέγειν οὐκ ἔχω)’.32 At this point, Socrates calls on Damon’s expertise in order to disentangle this question and provides us with an interesting description of the areas of his technical proficiency:

Ἀλλὰ ταῦτα μέν, ἦν δ᾽ ἐγώ, καὶ μετὰ Δάμωνος βουλευσόμεθα, τίνες τε ἀνελευθερίας καὶ ὕβρεως ἢ μανίας καὶ ἄλλης κακίας πρέπουσαι βάσεις, καὶ τίνας τοῖς ἐναντίοις λειπτέον ῥυθμούς· οἶμαι δέ με ἀκηκοέναι οὐ σαφῶς ἐνόπλιόν τέ τινα ὀνομάζοντος αὐτοῦ σύνθετον καὶ δάκτυλον καὶ ἡρῷόν γε, οὐκ οἶδα ὅπως διακοσμοῦντος καὶ ἴσον ἄνω καὶ κάτω τιθέντος, εἰς βραχύ τε καὶ μακρὸν γιγνόμενον, καί, ὡς ἐγὼ οἶμαι, ἴαμβον καί τιν᾽ ἄλλον τροχαῖον ὠνόμαζε, μήκη δὲ καὶ βραχύτητας προσῆπτε. καὶ τούτων τισὶν οἶμαι τὰς ἀγωγὰς τοῦ ποδὸς αὐτὸν οὐχ ἧττον ψέγειν τε καὶ ἐπαινεῖν ἢ τοὺς ῥυθμοὺς αὐτούς – ἤτοι συναμφότερόν τι· οὐ γὰρ ἔχω λέγειν – ἀλλὰ ταῦτα μέν, ὥσπερ εἶπον, εἰς Δάμωνα ἀναβεβλήσθω· διελέσθαι γὰρ οὐ σμικροῦ λόγου. (Resp. 3.400b-c)

Then, I said, we will consult also with Damon on these questions, with regard to which feet are appropriate to represent servility, violence, conceit or madness and other vices, and which rhythms should be kept since they are suitable for the opposite states. Also, I think that I heard him refer – somehow unclearly – to some rhythm ‘in armour’ that he called ‘composite’, to a ‘finger’ and even, yes, an ‘heroic’ one! He reorganised them, I don’t know how, by making up and down equal, which turned into short and long. Then I think he also mentioned an ‘iambus’ and another ‘trochaeus’, and attached longs and shorts to them. I think that he blamed and praised no less the tempo of each metrical foot than the foot itself or the whole rhythm – or, even, some kind of compound of them both… I cannot tell precisely but, as I said, let’s refer these questions to Damon, for a long discussion would be necessary to clarify these points.

21Here Damon is called upon to provide the technical content which was missing from Glaucon and Socrates’ analysis of rhythms: he will be asked to clarify the exact correspondences between specific ethical dispositions (such as servility, violence, madness, as well as their opposites) and the rhythms that can adequately represent them in musical contexts.

  • 33 Cf. Edmonds (2006), 420: ‘The sophist is the type of the expert and, in particular, someone who is (...)

22It is important to note that Damon, so far as Plato’s text indicates, is not going to be responsible for the selection of what rhythms are to be performed or not in kallipolis: this task had already been undertaken by Socrates and Glaucon, on the basis of the future educational needs of the citizens, even though they were not capable of evaluating from a technical point of view what rhythms would correspond to each of these ethical categories. Therefore, there is no reason to attribute to Damon the specific ethical preferences, translated into musical language, that are outlined in Republic 3: this is a question that belongs explicitly to Plato’s ethico-political project. Damon is rather consulted here as a proper ‘expert’,33 who is capable of identifying what emotional and psychological reactions are triggered in the souls of the listeners by means of definite musical elements, focusing on the psychagogic effect of this art and not on the ethical consequences of being exposed to determinate styles. He seems to embody the musical version of the model of technical competence that is described, with regard to rhetoric, in the following passage of the Phaedrus:

Πρὶν ἄν τις τό τε ἀληθὲς ἑκάστων εἰδῇ πέρι ὧν λέγει ἢ γράφει, κατ᾽ αὐτό τε πᾶν ὁρίζεσθαι δυνατὸς γένηται, ὁρισάμενός τε πάλιν κατ᾽ εἴδη μέχρι τοῦ ἀτμήτου τέμνειν ἐπιστηθῇ, περί τε ψυχῆς φύσεως διιδὼν κατὰ ταὐτά, τὸ προσαρμόττον ἑκάστῃ φύσει εἶδος ἀνευρίσκων, οὕτω τιθῇ καὶ διακοσμῇ τὸν λόγον, ποικίλῃ μὲν ποικίλους ψυχῇ καὶ παναρμονίους διδοὺς λόγους, ἁπλοῦς δὲ ἁπλῇ, οὐ πρότερον δυνατὸν τέχνῃ ἔσεσθαι καθ᾽ ὅσον πέφυκε μεταχειρισθῆναι τὸ λόγων γένος, οὔτε τι πρὸς τὸ διδάξαι οὔτε τι πρὸς τὸ πεῖσαι, ὡς ὁ ἔμπροσθεν πᾶς μεμήνυκεν ἡμῖν λόγος. (Phaedr. 277b-c)

Until a man knows the truth of each thing he talks or writes about, and becomes able to define each element by itself and, once he has defined them, knows how to divide them by classes until it is impossible to establish another division, and until he is also able to understand in the same way the nature of the soul, finding out what class of speech fits harmoniously with each kind of nature, so that he can compose his speech and fashion it accordingly, offering complex, artful and elaborate pieces to a complex soul, and simple discourses to a simple soul – only at this stage he will be an expert in this τέχνη, with regard to what can possibly be handled in the nature of speeches: either to teach or to persuade someone of something, as our whole preceding discourse indicated.

  • 34 This idea certainly seems to resemble the Gorgianic theory of the effects of logoi on the soul – Cf (...)
  • 35 The opposition between these two approaches may be signalled by the inversion of the roles attribut (...)

23The definition of a true holder of a τέχνη resembles very closely the representation of Damon provided in Republic 3: he is not only capable of telling Socrates which rhythms are appropriate in order to elicit specific emotions,34 but he is also is said to have classified them both with regard to their different denominations (composite enhoplios, dactyl, heroic, iamb, etc.) and their technical structure (short and long syllables, ups and downs). In addition, it is worth noting that in this passage of the Phaedrus recurs a peculiar expression which is similar to one that attracted our attention earlier: the real τεχνικός is described here as the one who is able to τιθέναι καὶ διακοσμεῖν his λόγος so that it can be suitable for different types of listeners – a strategy that certainly is analogous to the one which Laches criticised in the speech of Damon’s associate Nicias. However there is one significant difference between them: the ‘true’ technician of the Phaedrus arranges his discourse in view of the needs of his listeners while, in Laches’ view, Nicias employs his ‘Damonian’ verbal skills in order to make himself appear subtler in his analyses and more intelligent (ἑαυτὸν κοσμεῖν τῷ λόγῳ, Lach. 197c2-3).35

24Some other aspects of Republic 3.400b-c should be underlined in relation to Damon’s affinity with the intellectual style of the sophists. First of all, Socrates emphasises that Damon explicitly praised and blamed different types of rhythms, but he fails to remember exactly what his praise and blame involved. This passage has often been used in order to argue that Damon had precise ethical preferences with regard to rhythms and that his conservative aim was to restore the strict musical models of the ‘good old days’. In my view, however, this is a very simplistic and unsatisfactory way to interpret this allusive remark: if this were the case, why would Socrates have ‘forgotten’ the useful ethical details provided by Damon?

  • 36 Cf. Arist. Rhet. 1358b6–13: ἐξ ἀνάγκης ἂν εἴη τρία γένη τῶν λόγων τῶν ῥητορικῶν, συμβουλευτικόν, δι (...)
  • 37 The terms δάκτυλος and ἐνόπλιος appear also in Aristoph. Nub. 651, once again in the mouth of Socra (...)
  • 38 Cf. Arist. Poet. 1459b32-34, where the ἡρῳικὸν μέτρον is identified with epic dactylic hexameters.
  • 39 From what we can reconstruct, all of these rhythms were somehow ‘dactylic’ in nature. Cf. West (198 (...)

25I think that this striking omission can be explained in a much more direct and useful way. From what we can understand on the basis of this passage, Socrates’ knowledge of Damon’s research does not result from a direct conversation; his account of Damon’s theories seems to derive from listening to one of his epideictic speeches, rhetorical exercises which consisted exactly in discourses of praise or blame.36 This impression is further confirmed by Socrates’ account of Damon’s examination of rhythms, as he says that the theorist played in his discourse with a series of terms – enhoplios (ἐνόπλιόν τέ τινα), ‘finger’ (δάκτυλον)37 and ‘heroic’ (καὶ ἡρῷόν γε)38 – which refer to rhythms that are very similar to each other;39 this strategy, which ultimately creates a lot of confusion in the listeners by comparing and contrasting very similar concepts, seems to be analogous to the aforementioned sophistic manipulation of near-synonyms and could be exploited very effectively in the context of a ‘demonstrative’ speech.

  • 40 Cf. Barker (2007), 309-310.

26So this is why, in this passage of the Republic, Socrates does not relate in detail the content of Damon’s speeches: in the form he actually heard them, their content would not be useful to improve the ethico-aesthetical analysis of Book 3, given that in these speeches the orator exploited specific materials – in this case, rhythmical ones – in order to impress his audience. On the contrary, a direct conversation with Damon about the technical elements of his research – in particular on the relationship between rhythms and virtues/vices – could provide Socrates and Glaucon with important elements that they could use in developing a detailed outline of the educational process of the ideal city.40 And this is exactly what Socrates proposes here, a direct consultation with Damon.

  • 41 This comedy, which apparently featured both Socrates and a chorus of phrontistai, won the second pl (...)

27This interpretation seems even more natural if we remember that, as we have seen above, in the Laches (180d) Damon was presented as a good acquaintance of Socrates, who went so far as to recommend him to Nicias as a teacher of music. Clearly, Plato’s Socrates shows that he appreciates the skills taught by Damon, despite the pretty confused manner in which the content of his knowledge is referred to in the Republic; on the other hand, however, it would have been really odd if Plato chose to portray Socrates giving a detailed account of Damon’s musical theories: his lack of musical talent was renowned and was even mocked in a very successful comedy, Ameipsias’ Connus.41

  • 42 While the epideictic discourses of praise and blame obviously must have included some sort of evalu (...)
  • 43 Cf. for this claim Philod. De Mus. 4 col. 148 Delattre = 4.34 Kemke.

28In conclusion, in Book 3 Damon seems to deserve Plato’s respect for his truly ‘technical’ expertise, which can be usefully employed in researches about musical (and particularly rhythmical) ethics, but not his complete admiration, because he did not take the additional step of assessing the true ethical value of the contents he could handle so precisely.42 Instead, he exploited his knowledge in order to achieve what, in Platonic terms, cannot be defined as ethically ‘good’ objectives: increasing his personal prestige by means of persuasive speech.43

Damon in Republic 4 and the dangers of musical neoterismos

29The second reference to Damon in the Republic is attested at the beginning of Book 4, where the enquiry shifts from the analysis of the correct παιδεία and its effects on individual souls to its consequences in terms of political structures. Here Socrates emphasises very strongly the correlation between the quality of the souls of the citizens, i.e. the immediate result of the educational curriculum devised in Books 2-3, and the stability of political constitutions. In this context, Socrates gives the following indication for the future Guardians:

Ὡς τοίνυν διὰ βραχέων εἰπεῖν, τούτου ἀνθεκτέον τοῖς ἐπιμεληταῖς τῆς πόλεως, ὅπως ἂν αὐτοὺς μὴ λάθῃ διαφθαρὲν ἀλλὰ παρὰ πάντα αὐτὸ φυλάττωσι, τὸ μὴ νεωτερίζειν περὶ γυμναστικήν τε καὶ μουσικὴν παρὰ τὴν τάξιν, ἀλλ᾽ ὡς οἷόν τε μάλιστα φυλάττειν, φοβουμένους ὅταν τις λέγῃ ὡς <τὴν>

  • 44 Cf. Hom. Od. 1.346-352 (Telemachus to Penelope): μῆτερ ἐμή, τί τ᾽ ἄρα φθονέεις ἐρίηρον ἀοιδὸν / τέρ (...)

ἀοιδὴν μᾶλλον ἐπιφρονέουσ᾽ ἄνθρωποι,44

ἥτις ἀειδόντεσσι νεωτάτη ἀμφιπέληται,

μὴ πολλάκις τὸν ποιητήν τις οἴηται λέγειν οὐκ ᾄσματα νέα ἀλλὰ τρόπον ᾠδῆς νέον, καὶ τοῦτο ἐπαινῇ. δεῖ δ᾽ οὔτ᾽ ἐπαινεῖν τὸ τοιοῦτον οὔτε ὑπολαμβάνειν. εἶδος γὰρ καινὸν μουσικῆς μεταβάλλειν εὐλαβητέον ὡς ἐν ὅλῳ κινδυνεύοντα· οὐδαμοῦ γὰρ κινοῦνται μουσικῆς τρόποι ἄνευ πολιτικῶν νόμων τῶν μεγίστων, ὥς φησί τε Δάμων καὶ ἐγὼ πείθομαι. (Resp. 4.424b-d)

So, to put it briefly, the Guardians of the city will have to hold firmly to this form of education, so that it cannot possibly be altered without them noticing, but instead they may guard it against all possible dangers: no changes are to be applied to gymnastics and music against the established arrangement, while it should be defended as much as possible. They should be afraid whenever someone says that

men are more interested in that song

which is the newest to flow from the lips of singers.

  • 45 For a very insightful examination of the musical meaning of the term τρόπος in this passage, cf. Br (...)

lest someone would think that the poet referred not to new songs but to a new style of singing,45 and praised it – but this should neither be praised nor accepted. In fact, one must be careful about changing to a new musical form, since this puts the whole constitution in danger: musical styles never change without modifying the most important political laws too, as Damon says and I believe him.

  • 46 See e.g. DK 37 B 10, where the whole text is presented as one of Damon’s fragments.

30Similarly to the case of Rep. 3.400b-c, the entire content of this text has generally been attributed to Damon46 and it has been regarded as evidence of his conservative attitude in relation to musical aesthetics, which is allegedly indicated by the emphasis put on the dangers connected with musical νεωτερισμός and on the recurrent necessity to guard (φυλάττειν) musical models against this destructive process. But, if we actually look at what the Platonic texts says, it is pretty clear that Damon’s statement is mentioned in order to back up a theoretical inference derived from the philosophical reflections undertaken in the dialogue itself. In other words, Socrates strategically presents Damon’s assertion as a legitimate conclusion of the previous argument, which focused on the need to maintain unaltered the musico-poetic style established in Book 3; however, taken on their own, the words attributed to Damon here do not necessarily imply the whole argument of this Platonic section. Damon’s words underline only the existence of a connection between musical styles and political phenomena, but do not entail as a consequence that the forms of μουσική and γυμναστική should be kept unaltered.

  • 47 Cf. Arist. Ath. Pol. 27.4.3, Plut. Pericl. 9.2, Olympiod. In Pl. Alc. 1 138.4-11.

31At any rate, the fact that Damon’s interest in the relationships between educational and political forms is attested here, independently of the context of Plato’s reflections, should not surprise us any more: in all the Platonic instances we have examined, he is presented as a sophistic intellectual with outstanding linguistic and musical expertise, who associated with the most influential politicians of his age and advised them in various domains, such as the management of their relationship with the citizens.47 From this perspective, I see no reason to attribute to Damon anything more than the fact that he theorised a co-implication of musical and political νόμοι; all the additional content of this passage seems to me entirely Platonic.

Music, Politics and Masks: Damon and his masters

  • 48 Andoc. De myst. 16.2, Isocr. Antid. 15.235, Arist. Ath. Pol. 27.4.3, [Plato] Axioc. 364a.

32The Platonic texts we have looked at clearly testify that the analysis of the relationship between musical νόμοι and their influence on political institutions represented a crucial part of Damon’s intellectual interests. It is important to remember that, on the other hand, we have many sources contemporary to Plato48 that report Damon’s active political commitment in 5th-cent. Athens and his closeness to people with oligarchic tendencies, such as Charmides, Cleinias and Alcibiades. We can obtain a clearer idea of his position between active politics and musical theory if we go back to some of the Platonic passages we have previously looked at, focusing on an aspect that, up to now, I have deliberately ignored: Damon’s relations with other characters.

33One significant trait that recurs in different Platonic sources on Damon is his affiliation to other intellectual figures and, more precisely, an explicit characterisation of him as a member of a cultural tradition, a pupil of different masters. In my view, the connections revealed in these remarks not only enhance the ‘sophistic’ light he is presented in, but also provide some important elements with regard to the historical context he belonged to. For this reason I would like to return briefly to the first text we examined, First Alcibiades 118c, and observe the way in which Damon is characterised in relation to the other intellectuals mentioned there.

  • 49 Cf. Isocr. Antid. 15.235, which confirms a similar intellectual scenario, and Olympiod. In Pl. Alc. (...)
  • 50 Plut. Pericl. 4 = Αrist. fr. 401 Rose: Ἀριστοτέλης δὲ παρὰ Πυθοκλείδῃ μουσικὴν διαπονηθῆναι τὸν ἄνδ (...)

34First of all, we find an association between the figures of Pythocleides, Anaxagoras and Damon.49 While the content of Anaxagoras’ philosophical research and his important intellectual influences are widely attested, Pythocleides is much more shadowy a figure, on account of the scarcity of extant textual references to his activity; nonetheless, we have explicit descriptions of him as a musician, specifically a professional αὐλητής according to Aristotle.50

  • 51 Schol vet. On Plat. Alc. 1 118c: Πυθοκλείδης μουσικὸς ἦν, τῆς σεμνῆς μουσικῆς διδάσκαλος, καὶ Πυθαγ (...)

35The scholiast on the Platonic Alcibiades provides us with more detailed information about the nature of the relationship established between Pythocleides and Damon and outlines a continuous succession of masters and pupils featuring respectively Pythocleides, Agathocles and Damon51 – a connection that appeared also in one of the aforementioned passages of the Laches (180c10-15). Interestingly, the same characterisation of Pythocleides and Agathocles as members of a continuous tradition is attested in another Platonic instance, the famous first speech of Protagoras in the eponymous dialogue (Prot. 316b-317c). Strikingly, here they are all mentioned in the group of those sophists who managed to hide their real nature by means of special ‘masks’:

πρόσχημα ποιεῖσθαι καὶ προκαλύπτεσθαι, τοὺς μὲν ποίησιν, οἷον Ὅμηρόν τε καὶ Ἡσίοδον καὶ Σιμωνίδην, τοὺς δὲ αὖ τελετάς τε καὶ χρησμῳδίας, τοὺς ἀμφί τε Ὀρφέα καὶ Μουσαῖον· ἐνίους δέ τινας ᾔσθημαι καὶ γυμναστικήν, οἷον Ἴκκος τε ὁ Ταραντῖνος καὶ ὁ νῦν ἔτι ὢν οὐδενὸς ἥττων σοφιστὴς Ἡρόδικος ὁ Σηλυμβριανός, τὸ δὲ ἀρχαῖον Μεγαρεύς· μουσικὴν δὲ Ἀγαθοκλῆς τε ὁ ὑμέτερος πρόσχημα ἐποιήσατο, μέγας ὢν σοφιστής, καὶ Πυθοκλείδης ὁ Κεῖος καὶ ἄλλοι πολλοί. οὗτοι πάντες, ὥσπερ λέγω, φοβηθέντες τὸν φθόνον ταῖς τέχναις ταύταις παραπετάσμασιν ἐχρήσαντο. (Prot. 316d5-317a)

They used a sort of mask and disguised their identity behind these veils: some chose poetry, such as Homer, Hesiod and Simonides, others mystic rites and sung prophecies, such as Orpheus, Musaeus and their associates; I have even observed some of them, such as Iccos of Tarentum, choose gymnastiké for this reason, as today does Herodicos of Selymbria, who is not inferior to any other sophist, and originally came from Megara. And your own Agathocles, being a great sophist, transformed mousiké into his mask, as well as Pythocleides of Ceos and many others. All these men, as I say, afraid of resentment, used these technai as screens.

36This passage characterises all the most important forms of Greek culture as different elaborations of the same basic need: to hide the superior intelligence of some individuals and allow them to use their pre-eminence to their advantage without stirring envy in the majority of people, thus managing to avoid any subsequent acts of revenge. This catalogue presents all the elements that are mentioned in the Republic as essential components of a good education: different genres of poetry, gymnastics and music. The latter, moreover, seems to be the most challenging and perhaps also rewarding one to use as a screen: Agathocles is described as a μέγας σοφιστής for his ability to turn music into his own πρόσχημα, together with his master Pythocleides. How can we explain the glaring absence of Damon from this passage?

  • 52 Cf. Nails (2002), 309 and Wolfsdorf (1997). Brancacci (2008b), 24, agrees in detecting in this pass (...)
  • 53 This hypothesis is also compatible with the information provided in an aforementioned passage of th (...)
  • 54 Cf. Stadter (1989), 70.
  • 55 Cf. Plut. Arist.1.7, Plut. Nic. 6.1-2.

37This is a difficult question to answer. However, the dramatic date of the dialogue (around 433-432) gives us a possible explanation:52 if we date his ostracism between 442 and 440, he would still have been in exile from the city in the year of the dialogue.53 This possibility could explain the use of such a vague expression as καὶ ἄλλοι πολλοί, which follows the names of the ‘musical’ sophists mentioned in this passage. So Damon may be lying in the shadowy group indicated by this expression: after being cast out of the physical boundaries of the city, even his name was to be exiled from the cultural dimension of Athens. But this strategy does nothing else than confirm, however indirectly, Protagoras’ claim, which is at least partially echoed54 in the section of Plutarch’s Pericles mentioned at the beginning: Damon tried to ‘employ the lyre as a mask (παρακάλυμμα)’ but failed in his attempt and was hit by the consequences of the people’s hatred.55

Conclusions: Damon unmasked?

38After this long and complex journey through numerous Platonic dialogues, it is now necessary to summarise what aspects seem to be particularly significant in Plato’s use of Damon’s image.

39First of all, we have seen how Damon is characterised as a ‘sophistic’ type of intellectual in all the Platonic passages where he is mentioned: an attractive companion for young men, capable of teaching them very useful linguistic skills, somehow similar to those involved in the correct classification and use of names (cf. above, Lach. 197d1-6), in order to make them more effective in socio-political exchanges. However, as happened also in the case of Prodicus, his sophistic intellectual activity did not entail only educational practices. On the contrary, his research actually led him to the achievement of true expertise in a specific area: the classification of musical means and their psychagogic effects, as we have seen in Book 3 of the Republic. For this substantial and not merely ‘cosmetic’ accomplishment, Damon seems not only to deserve Plato’s respect but also to be regarded as a useful expert to be consulted in order to gain detailed information on the ethical effects of musical expressions. In this respect, Socrates can properly define him as a ‘companion’, since he holds some kind of true knowledge that can be useful to philosophical research. Nonetheless, given that his ‘scientific’ – or even ‘amoral’? – approach to the question did not aim at determining a stable hierarchy of value between the different possible results that may be achieved by means of his τέχνη, Plato’s appreciation of his intellectual approach could only be limited.

  • 56 For this reason, the position maintained by Lord (1978), according to whom τὸ πρέπον must be regard (...)

40In this perspective, it seems pretty clear that Plato, in Republic 3, could not merely take Damon’s results as a ready-made solution for the music-related educational needs of the ideal city; as we have seen in detail, Plato instead seems to select the correct modes and rhythms from the whole set of results obtained by Damon, on the basis of the ethical stimuli that he deemed appropriate for the children of kallipolis.56

  • 57 Cf. [Plut.] De musica 1136 e3-5, where Damon is presented as the person who discovered the ‘relaxed (...)

41The same process of interpretation and selection of contents seems to be at work in Book 4 of the Republic, where Damon’s aphorism concerning the mutual correlation of musical and political νόμοι is quoted. Damon’s words do not seem to imply at all the complex argument presented by Socrates in the previous sections of the text, and especially not the indictment of musical innovation:57 Damon’s expression reflects simply a psycho-sociological observation. All the ethical implications that derive from the idea that musical and political changes imply some kind of dangerous and negative modifications in the constitution of the city, as well as of the souls that inhabit it, seem to me nothing other than the result of Plato’s use of Damon’s theory.

42Finally, we have examined how Damon’s intellectual activity could easily affect both the field of politics and that of music. Apparently continuing a tradition involving at least three generations of masters and pupils, Damon’s sharpness of mind was too manifest and revealed too clearly his real interests in gaining a prominent social status, for instance by collaborating openly with influential politicians. In this way, then, he failed to shield his thoughts with a lyre, revealing to the people the real nature lying behind his mask.

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Bibliographie

Anderson, W.D. (1955) ‘The importance of Damonian theory in Plato’s thought’ in Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 86: 88-102.

Anderson, W.D. (1966) Ethos and education in Greek music – The evidence of poetry and philosophy. Cambridge (Mass.).

Barker, A. (1989) Greek Musical Writings II – Harmonic and Acoustic theory. Cambridge.

Barker, A. (2005) ‘Damone e i sofisti’ in Meriani, A. (ed.), Psicomusicologia nella Grecia Antica. Napoli: 57-74.

Barker, A. (2007) The Science of Harmonics in Classical Greece. Cambridge.

Brancacci, A. (2008a) ‘I Tropoi di Damone (37 B 2 e B 10 DK)’ in Brancacci, A., Musica e Filosofia da Damone a Filodemo. Firenze: 7-19.

Brancacci, A. (2008b) ‘Protagora, Damone e la musica’ in Brancacci, A., Musica e Filosofia da Damone a Filodemo. Firenze: 21-33.

D’Angour, A. (2011) The Greeks and the New – Novelty in ancient Greek imagination and experience. Cambridge.

Deiters, H. (1870) De Aristidis Quintiliani doctrinae harmonicae fontibus. Düren.

Delattre, D. (1994) ‘Damon’ in Goulet, R. (ed.), Dictionnaire des Philosophes Antiques, vol. 2. Paris: 600-607.

Delattre, D. (ed.) (2007) Philodème de GadaraSur la musique. Livre IV. Paris.

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Podlecki, A. (1998) Perikles and his circle. New York.

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Notes

1 Plut. Per. 4.2: ὁ δὲ Δάμων ἔοικεν ἄκρος ὢν σοφιστὴς καταδύεσθαι μὲν εἰς τὸ τῆς μουσικῆς ὄνομα πρὸς τοὺς πολλοὺς ἐπικρυπτόμενος τὴν δεινότητα, τῷ δὲ Περικλεῖ συνῆν καθάπερ ἀθλητῇ τῶν πολιτικῶν ἀλείπτης καὶ διδάσκαλος. All the English translations of Greek texts used in this study are my own. On the Plutarchan passage, see Stadter (1989), Introduction §3 and ad loc. On the term σοφιστής, cf. the illuminating analysis presented in Edmunds (2006), who demonstrates how the 5th-century uses of the term ‘show a surprisingly wide range of meanings’ (418), while it was only in the 4th century that it ‘became the standard term for the professional teachers of rhetoric and the art of speaking in fifth-century Athens’ (422). In this perspective, cf. Plato com. PCG 149, where Bacchylides is included among the sophists portrayed in his play Σοφισταί.

2 Plut. Per. 4.3-4: οὐ μὴν ἔλαθεν ὁ Δάμων τῇ λύρᾳ παρακαλύμματι χρώμενος, ἀλλ᾽ ὡς μεγαλοπράγμων καὶ φιλοτύραννος ἐξωστρακίσθη καὶ παρέσχε τοῖς κωμικοῖς διατριβήν. Cf. with Plut. Arist. 1.7: καὶ Δάμων ὁ Περικλέους διδάσκαλος, ὅτι τὸ φρονεῖν ἐδόκει τις εἶναι περιττός, ἐξωστρακίσθη.

3 Cf. Arist. Ath. Pol. 27.4, Plut. Per. 4, Arist. 1, Nic. 6, Liban. Socr. Apol. 1.157 with Wallace (2004), 249-267, and Wallace (1991). The literary evidence has been confirmed by ostraka from V sec. B.C. which bear the name Damon; the ostracism probably took place around 442-440 (cf. e.g Wallace 2004, 252). For different views on the date, see e.g. Rhodes (1981) on Ath. Pol. 27.4 and Nails (2002), 122.

4 For recent examples of this approach, cf. Delattre (2007), Delattre (1994) and Ritoók (2001), who build on positions previously presented by Ryffel (1947), Lasserre (1954) and Koller (1954); see as well Deiters (1870), 13-ff., and Schäfke (1937), 100-112. A different and more accurate perspective, though not always convincing, is outlined in Anderson (1955) and Anderson (1966), esp. 75-80. Cf. also Brancacci (2008a) and Brancacci (2008b): while these essays offer thorough and valuable examinations of the Damonian passages in Plato, their conclusions are not entirely persuasive – cf. below, footnotes 45 and 52. On the relation between Damon and the sophists and on the sophistic character of his intellectual research, cf. the illuminating analysis presented in Barker (2005). For a very productive and subtle examination of the use of Damon’s authority in Aristides Quintilianus, see Hagel (forthcoming).

5 Cf. the aforementioned Ritoók (2001), Ryffel (1947), Lasserre (1954) and Koller (1954). A different case is that of Lord (1978): while his overall approach to Aristides Quintilanus and Aristotle is generally productive, at page 41-42 the author argues that τὸ πρέπον is a ‘fundamental category of Damonian theory’, inadvertently taking Plato’s version as a historically reliable source.

6 The question of this dialogue’s authenticity has widely been discussed: cf. the recent assessments offered in Denyer (2001), 1-26, and Jirsa (2009). It is worth remembering that the authenticity of this dialogue was first questioned by Schleiermacher in 1809, but his point of view was intrinsically biased, since his underlying presupposition maintained that the Phaedrus was the first dialogue to be read in order to approach Plato’s philosophy, i.e. exactly the role that was traditionally attributed to the First Alcibiades.

7 Cf. Podlecki (1998), 17-34. See as well Arist. Ath. Pol. 27.4, where both the close connection between Pericles and Damon and its political implications are attested.

8 On the musical activities of Pythocleides, especially in relation to Damon, cf. section 4: ‘Music, Politics and Masks: Damon and his masters’.

9 The exact same expression (διδάσκαλος μουσικῆς) is used to describe Damon in the pseudo-Platonic Axiochus, 364a4.

10 Cf. Soph. 234b1, Resp. 4.426e5, Phaedr. 230b6, Prot. 309b1, Prot. 320c7. Interestingly, in Philod. De Mus. 4. col.147.39-40 Delattre, we are told that the practice of music is appropriate to τοὺς χαρίεντας and, a few lines later (which are unfortunately destroyed), Philodemus mentions Damon and his discourse to the Areopagus.

11 In relation to this, cf. Plato Apol. 20b4-5, the only passage of this text where Socrates uses the word σοφιστής, significantly in so far as he refers to the fact Evenos of Paros was hired as a teacher of ‘human and political excellence’. Cf. Edmunds (2006), 418.

12 Lach. 199e13-200a3.

13 Cf. Gorgias DK 82 B 11.1.1-3: Κόσμος πόλει μὲν εὐανδρία, σώματι δὲ κάλλος, ψυχῇ δὲ σοφία, πράγματι δὲ ἀρετή, λόγῳ δὲ ἀλήθεια· τὰ δὲ ἐναντία τούτων ἀκοσμία. See as well Plato Phaedr. 277c and Menex. 239c.

14 See e.g. Plato Prot. 341c7-8. Cf. Kerferd (1981) chap. 7 for a very useful overview on the subject.

15 Cf. Crat. 391b-c and Crat. 384b. Prodicus, in particular, is associated with this theme in numerous Platonic passages: cf. Charm. 163d, Lach. 197d, Prot. 314c, 315c-316a, 317c-e, 336d-337c, 339e-342a, 347a, 357e-359a, Hipp. Maj. 282c, Meno 75e, 96d, Apol. 19e, Symp. 177b; Phaedr. 267b, Resp. 10.600c, Euthyd. 277e, 305c, Theaet. 151b, Theag. 127e8. See also [Plato] Axioch. 366c and [Plato] Eryx. 397d-e, 398b-399b.

16 Cf. the aforementioned Edmunds (2006), as well as the slightly different position defended by Tell (2011), 26-27.

17 Hipp. maj. 282c1-6 and Resp. 6.496b (Theages). On Socrates’ use of vocatives in Plato’s dialogues, cf. Halliwell (1995), esp. 94-96; with regard to the form ἑταῖρε, Halliwell concludes that ‘Socrates uses this locution not to mark a necessarily pre-existing or objective relationship between himself and another person […], but to express a willingness and desire to engage in a common pursuit of philosophical collaboration with his interlocutor’ (95-96).

18 Cf. Halliwell (1995), 95: ‘the force of the term hetairos on Socrates’ lips, or on those of his associates’ reflects ‘a specifically philosophical conception of companionship’. Both Plato and Aristotle employ similar expressions in relation to Socrates: cf. Plato Phaedo 118a15 (τοῦ ἑταίρου ἡμῖν) and Arist. Rhet. 1398b30-31(ὁ ἑταῖρος ἡμῶν).

19 Personal prestige and wealth in the case of the sophists; the case of Theages is more complex: cf. Joyal (2000), 58-60 and 112-114.

20 Cf. Aristoph. Nub. 360-ff., where the Clouds state that, among the contemporary meteorosophistai, they listen only to Socrates and Prodicus. Interestingly, they add that the reason why they listen to Prodicus is his σοφία καὶ γνώμη, while the reason for their loyalty towards Socrates is much more prosaic, i.e. the harsh conditions he must endure for their sake.

21 Interestingly, in these passages Socrates undertakes a type of literary analysis of Simonides’ ode that is very similar, technically speaking, to those developed by the sophists, an affinity that is underlined by Plato a few pages later when Hippias enthusiastically approves of Socrates’ speech and actually offers to deliver one himself, significantly calling it a demonstration (Εὖ μέν μοι δοκεῖς, ἔφη, ὦ Σώκρατες, καὶ σὺ περὶ τοῦ ᾄσματος διεληλυθέναι· ἔστιν μέντοι, ἔφη, καὶ ἐμοὶ λόγος περὶ αὐτοῦ εὖ ἔχων, ὃν ὑμῖν ἐπιδείξω, ἂν βούλησθε, Prot. 347a-b).

22 Prot. 341a1: κινδυνεύει γάρ τοι, ὦ Πρωταγόρα, ἡ Προδίκου σοφία θεία τις εἶναι πάλαι, ἤτοι ἀπὸ Σιμωνίδου ἀρξαμένη, ἢ καὶ ἔτι παλαιοτέρα.

23 Prot. 341a5: ἐγὼ ἔμπειρος διὰ τὸ μαθητὴς εἶναι Προδίκου τουτουΐ.

24 Cf. Plato Charm. 163d, Meno 96d and Crat. 384b-c: here Socrates specifies that he could afford only a cheap course with him.

25 Prot. 341d6-9: Ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐγὼ οἶμαι, ἔφην, ὦ Πρωταγόρα, τοῦτο λέγειν Σιμωνίδην, καὶ Πρόδικόν γε τόνδε εἰδέναι, ἀλλὰ παίζειν καὶ σοῦ δοκεῖν ἀποπειρᾶσθαι εἰ οἷός τ᾽ ἔσῃ τῷ σαυτοῦ λόγῳ βοηθεῖν. It is worth noting that the same expression (λόγῳ βοηθεῖν) denotes at Phaedr. 276c8 the incapability of written discourse to ‘defend’ its real meaning and to teach the truth: οὐκ ἄρα σπουδῇ αὐτὰ ἐν ὕδατι γράψει μέλανι σπείρων διὰ καλάμου μετὰ λόγων ἀδυνάτων μὲν αὑτοῖς λόγῳ βοηθεῖν, ἀδυνάτων δὲ ἱκανῶς τἀληθῆ διδάξαι.

26 Cf. Symp. 177b4, where ὁ βέλτιστος Πρόδικος is defined as a χρηστὸς σοφιστής and his Encomium of Heracles is referred to (cf. Xen. Mem. 2.1.21-ff.); see as well Phaedr. 267b, where Socrates remembers how Prodicus laughed at the other sophists’ ability to make both long or short discourses on the same question, claiming to have been the first to discover the ‘true’ criterion of λόγων τέχνη: how to make a discourse μετρίων (267b3).

27 It is also worth noting that in this passage the ‘sinister’ aspect of Prodicus’ skill seems to be related to the fact that, by speaking at the council and by delivering epideictic speeches in private, he became well-known for his skills (eudokimesen) and gained significant sums of money by associating with young boys.

28 Ἁρμονία is a concept that we tend to link to our idea of tonality, though it would be more correct to associate it with the concept of mode. Cf. Powers (2001), s.v. Mode: ‘Mode is essentially a question of the internal relationships of notes within a scale, especially of the predominance of one of them over the others as a tonic, its predominance being established in any or all of a number of ways: e.g. frequent recurrence, its appearance in a prominent position as the first note or the last, the delaying of its expected occurrence by some kind of embellishment. […] Mode may be defined as the epitome of stylized song, of song stylized in a particular district or people or occupation; and it draws its character partly from associations contracted in its native home, reinforced perhaps by the sanctions of mythology’.

29 On the malleable nature of young minds, cf. Resp. 2.377a11-b5, 2.377c1-6; on the role of μίμησις in the formation of the soul, cf. Resp. 3.394e-397b, esp. 3.395c-d, with the illuminating interpretation presented in Halliwell (2002). On the pre-rational, almost instinctual appreciation that the children of kallipolis will have of the beauty of logos, acquired through a correct musical education, cf. Resp. 3.401d-402a and 4.402d. The almost magic effect of music is explicitly highlighted in the Laws (e.g. Leg. 2.659d), where is underlined also the influence that music, together with wine, exerts on older souls: it makes them softer and therefore more malleable (μαλακώτερον ἐκ σκληροτέρου τὸ τῆς ψυχῆς ἦθος […] καὶ οὕτως εὐπλαστότερον, Leg. 2.666b-c), as those of young people are naturally (cf. Leg. 7.789a-790e).

30 3.400a3-4.

31 This kind of classification divides the fundamental rhythms on the basis of thesis-arsis pairs (feet), generating three gene, or types: the ison-type (‘equal’, as the elements of each foot stand to a relationship of 1:1 – e.g. dactyl, spondee and anapaest feet), the diplasion-type (‘double’, with a compound structure of 2:1 – e.g. iambic and trochaic feet) and the hemiolion-type (featuring a 3:2 structure, such as the paeonic feet).

32 3.400a7-8. Cf. also Wallace (2005), which contains many useful observations, although some of the author’s assumptions seem to me unwarranted – see e.g. 155: ‘he [scil. Damon] could not have categorised the ethos of each individual harmonia because that ethos varied from song to song’; however in itself the fact that the ethos changed in different songs does not imply that it is not possible to examine its variations and therefore, in principle, Damon could have tried to examine the different ways in which each harmonia could be used and the effects it would elicit.

33 Cf. Edmonds (2006), 420: ‘The sophist is the type of the expert and, in particular, someone who is good at inventing or discovering things’.

34 This idea certainly seems to resemble the Gorgianic theory of the effects of logoi on the soul – Cf. DK B 82 B 11.8-10: λόγος δυνάστης μέγας ἐστίν, ὃς σμικροτάτῳ σώματι καὶ ἀφανεστάτῳ θειότατα ἔργα ἀποτελεῖ· δύναται γὰρ καὶ φόβον παῦσαι καὶ λύπην ἀφελεῖν καὶ χαρὰν ἐνεργάσασθαι καὶ ἔλεον ἐπαυξῆσαι. ταῦτα δὲ ὡς οὕτως ἔχει δείξω· (9) δεῖ δὲ καὶ δόξῃ δεῖξαι τοῖς ἀκούουσι· τὴν ποίησιν ἅπασαν καὶ νομίζω καὶ ὀνομάζω λόγον ἔχοντα μέτρον· ἧς τοὺς ἀκούοντας εἰσῆλθε καὶ φρίκη περίφοβος καὶ ἔλεος πολύδακρυς καὶ πόθος φιλοπενθής, ἐπ᾽ ἀλλοτρίων τε πραγμάτων καὶ σωμάτων εὐτυχίαις καὶ δυσπραγίαις ἴδιόν τι πάθημα διὰ τῶν λόγων ἔπαθεν ἡ ψυχή. φέρε δὴ πρὸς ἄλλον ἀπ᾽ ἄλλου μεταστῶ λόγον. (10) αἱ γὰρ ἔνθεοι διὰ λόγων ἐπῳδαὶ ἐπαγωγοὶ ἡδονῆς, ἀπαγωγοὶ λύπης γίνονται· συγγινομένη γὰρ τῇ δόξῇ τῆς ψυχῆς ἡ δύναμις τῆς ἐπῳδῆς ἔθελξε καὶ ἔπεισε καὶ μετέστησεν αὐτὴν γοητείᾳ.

35 The opposition between these two approaches may be signalled by the inversion of the roles attributed to the soul and to the discourse in the two passages: in the Phaedrus the operation of διακοσμεῖν regards τὸν λόγον and is undertaken in view of τῇ ψυχῇ, while in the Laches it is Nicias himself (ἑαυτόν) who is presented in a different light (κοσμεῖν) by means of the power of λόγος. I want express my gratitude to David Bouvier for this suggestion. On Nicias, Damon and the risks of excessive sharp-mindedness, cf. Plut. Nic. 6.1-2: Ὁρῶν δὲ τῶν ἐν λόγῳ δυνατῶν ἢ τῷ φρονεῖν διαφερόντων ἀποχρώμενον εἰς ἔνια ταῖς ἐμπειρίαις τὸν δῆμον, ὑφορώμενον δ’ ἀεὶ καὶ φυλαττόμενον τὴν δεινότητα καὶ κολούοντα τὸ φρόνημα καὶ τὴν δόξαν—ὡς δῆλον ἦν τῇ Περικλέους καταδίκῃ καὶ τῷ Δάμωνος ἐξοστρακισμῷ καὶ τῇ πρὸς Ἀντιφῶντα τὸν Ῥαμνούσιον ἀπιστίᾳ τῶν πολλῶν.

36 Cf. Arist. Rhet. 1358b6–13: ἐξ ἀνάγκης ἂν εἴη τρία γένη τῶν λόγων τῶν ῥητορικῶν, συμβουλευτικόν, δικανικόν, ἐπιδεικτικόν. συμβουλῆς δὲ τὸ μὲν προτροπή, τὸ δὲ ἀποτροπή […] δίκης δὲ τὸ μὲν κατηγορία, τὸ δ᾽ ἀπολογία […] ἐπιδεικτικοῦ δὲ τὸ μὲν ἔπαινος, τὸ δὲ ψόγος. See as well Barker (2007), 72-74 and 47.

37 The terms δάκτυλος and ἐνόπλιος appear also in Aristoph. Nub. 651, once again in the mouth of Socrates, as he tries to teach Strepsiades the basic elements of a ‘good’ education (cf. Nub. 638, περὶ μέτρων ἢ ῥυθμῶν ἤ περὶ ἐπῶν), while the latter puns on the word δάκτυλος and shows his lack of interest for these refined concepts: he just wants to learn the ‘most unjust argument’ (τὸν ἀδικώτατον λόγον, Nub. 658). Given that from the extant evidence it seems that the enhoplios was a kind of dactylic movement, we cannot exclude that Aristophanes is also playing on the potential confusion that could derive from trying to distinguish between these two categories – a distinction that may have well appeared to the audience as some kind of ridiculous sophistry.

38 Cf. Arist. Poet. 1459b32-34, where the ἡρῳικὸν μέτρον is identified with epic dactylic hexameters.

39 From what we can reconstruct, all of these rhythms were somehow ‘dactylic’ in nature. Cf. West (1982), 195.

40 Cf. Barker (2007), 309-310.

41 This comedy, which apparently featured both Socrates and a chorus of phrontistai, won the second place at the City Dionysia in 423, when Aristophanes’ Clouds was placed third. On Socrates and Connus, cf. also Plato Euthyd. 272c, where Socrates states that he was ridiculed by the other boys who attended Connus’ lessons, and Plato Menex. 235e.

42 While the epideictic discourses of praise and blame obviously must have included some sort of evaluation, it would be naïve to assume that these proclaimed values corresponded with an actual theory maintained by the speaker: they could simply be part of a rhetorical technique, without representing a wider system of belief. For an extreme example of this dissociation, see e.g. Dissoi Logoi DK 90.

43 Cf. for this claim Philod. De Mus. 4 col. 148 Delattre = 4.34 Kemke.

44 Cf. Hom. Od. 1.346-352 (Telemachus to Penelope): μῆτερ ἐμή, τί τ᾽ ἄρα φθονέεις ἐρίηρον ἀοιδὸν / τέρπειν ὅππῃ οἱ νόος ὄρνυται; οὔ νύ τ᾿ ἀοιδοὶ / αἴτιοι, ἀλλά ποθι Ζεὺς αἴτιος, ὅς τε δίδωσιν / ἀνδράσιν ἀλφηστῇσιν ὅπως ἐθέλῃσιν ἑκάστῳ. / τούτῳ δ᾽ οὐ νέμεσις Δαναῶν κακὸν οἶτον ἀείδειν· / τὴν γὰρ ἀοιδὴν μᾶλλον ἐπικλείουσ᾿ ἄνθρωποι, / ἥτις ἀκουόντεσσι νεωτάτη ἀμφιπέληται. On the crucial role of this Homeric passage and its manipulation on the part of Plato, cf. D’Angour (2011), 184-191.

45 For a very insightful examination of the musical meaning of the term τρόπος in this passage, cf. Brancacci (2008a), 13-15, who refers to an interesting occurrence of this term in a musical sense in Antisthenes (SSR V A 187 Giannantoni = Porph. Schol. ad Od.α 1). However, in this contribution the author attributes to Damon an actual ‘desire’ for these musical characteristics to be kept unaltered (cf. 16, emphasis mine: ‘Nel passo della Repubblica è ancora da rilevare l’asserzione di Damone secondo cui i τρόποι della musica non debbono essere mutati o alterati in alcun modo), a step that seems unwarranted to me, especially since this attribution is based on the presumed content of the lost Areopagiticus. So far as I can see, we can safely attribute to Damon only the statement that establishes a correlation between modifications of musical styles and changes in political laws, while there is no obvious reason to regard also the former part of the text (and especially the form εὐλαβητέον) as Damonian. This point seems to be confirmed by an observation presented again in Brancacci (2008a), 17, where the author rightly underlines that the expression πολιτικοὶ νόμοι is a hapax in the Platonic corpus and regards this as evidence that this sentence is a trustworthy quotation of Damon’s own words. Cf. also Anderson (1955), 94-96.

46 See e.g. DK 37 B 10, where the whole text is presented as one of Damon’s fragments.

47 Cf. Arist. Ath. Pol. 27.4.3, Plut. Pericl. 9.2, Olympiod. In Pl. Alc. 1 138.4-11.

48 Andoc. De myst. 16.2, Isocr. Antid. 15.235, Arist. Ath. Pol. 27.4.3, [Plato] Axioc. 364a.

49 Cf. Isocr. Antid. 15.235, which confirms a similar intellectual scenario, and Olympiod. In Pl. Alc. 1 118c: ἐν μὲν γὰρ φιλοσοφίᾳ γέγονε μαθητὴς Ἀναξαγόρου, ἐν δὲ μουσικῇ Πυθοκλείδους.

50 Plut. Pericl. 4 = Αrist. fr. 401 Rose: <Ἀριστοτέλης> δὲ παρὰ Πυθοκλείδῃ μουσικὴν διαπονηθῆναι τὸν ἄνδρα φησίν (τὸν Περικλέα); cf. [Plut.] De musica 1136d-e.

51 Schol vet. On Plat. Alc. 1 118c: Πυθοκλείδης μουσικὸς ἦν, τῆς σεμνῆς μουσικῆς διδάσκαλος, καὶ Πυθαγόρειος, οὗ μαθητὴς Ἀγαθοκλῆς, οὗ Λαμπροκλῆς, οὗ Δάμων. Lamprocles, though, is never mentioned in the Platonic corpus.

52 Cf. Nails (2002), 309 and Wolfsdorf (1997). Brancacci (2008b), 24, agrees in detecting in this passage a rhetorical expedient by means of which Plato evokes the figure of Damon without mentioning him explicitly. However, the interpretation of the Protagoras outlined in Brancacci (2008b), esp. 26-ff., attributes directly to Damon many positive elements of a theory of education and even an actual educational project entailing the diffusion of musical education to all the citizens. In keeping with this perspective, the author interprets Protagoras’ comments on the ethical aims of citharodic education (cf. Prot. 326a-b) as revealing ‘un evidente influsso delle teorie di Damone’ (25) and as representing ‘il documento principale della ricezione sofistica delle idee damoniche’ (26). These claims are justified on the basis of a testimony reported in Athenaeus 14.628c, where οἱ περὶ Δάμωνα τὸν Ἀθηναῖον are said to believe that that specific songs and dances correspond to specific movements of the soul and, therefore, dances and songs proper to free men make the soul free as well, while dances and songs with the opposite qualities have the opposite effect. However, he translates the sentence οὐ κακῶς δ᾽ ἔλεγον οἱ περὶ Δάμωνα τὸν Ἀθηναῖον as ‘non a torto diceva Damone ateniese’ (27, emphasis mine), thus attributing this conception directly to Damon and not to his followers (perhaps following LSJ s.v. περί, where the expression οἱ περὶ τινά is recognised as a periphrasis for the person in ‘later’ Greek); but such an approach, as observed by Wallace (1991), 31, is very suspicious from a methodological point of view, especially given that the same expression οἱ περὶ Δάμωνα recurs in Arist. Quint. De Mus. 2, 80.28-29 Winnington-Ingram, a passage that refers precisely to the same theory mentioned by Athenaeus and attributes it again to the Damonians in general, not to Damon in person. On this question, cf. Wallace (1991), Wallace (1995), Barker (1989), 482 n. 143, and Barker (2005), esp. 59 and 69.

53 This hypothesis is also compatible with the information provided in an aforementioned passage of the First Alcibiades (118c), where Alcibiades says that Pericles ‘still’ spends time with Damon. Maybe Plato provided this detail in order to signal that, at the time of the dialogue, Damon was back to Athens, and it seems entirely possible given that the dialogue is set in 432 (cf. Nails 2002, 310-311).

54 Cf. Stadter (1989), 70.

55 Cf. Plut. Arist.1.7, Plut. Nic. 6.1-2.

56 For this reason, the position maintained by Lord (1978), according to whom τὸ πρέπον must be regarded as ‘a fundamental category of Damonian theory’ (42), seems to me unwarranted. Judging by the extant textual evidence, this ‘category’ is fully Platonic. Cf. also Wallace (1991), 53.

57 Cf. [Plut.] De musica 1136 e3-5, where Damon is presented as the person who discovered the ‘relaxed Lydian’ mode (τὴν Ἐπανειμένην Λυδιστί); independently of the historical reliability of this specific attribution, it would have been pretty difficult to attribute this kind of innovation to Damon if he was actually renowned as an opponent of musical change.

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Tosca Lynch, « A Sophist ‘in disguise’: a reconstruction of Damon of Oa and his role in Plato’s dialogues », Études platoniciennes [En ligne], 10 | 2013, mis en ligne le 01 mars 2014, consulté le 25 juin 2017. URL : http://etudesplatoniciennes.revues.org/378 ; DOI : 10.4000/etudesplatoniciennes.378

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Tosca Lynch

University of St Andrews
After graduating in history of ancient philosophy at the University of Trento (IT), Tosca Lynch completed her PhD in Classics at the University of St Andrews (UK) in 2013. Currently she is a Postdoc researcher at the Institut für Kulturgeschichte der Antike, Austrian Academy of Sciences, in the project “Rhythm in archaic and classical Greek poetry”. Her research interests focus mainly on the field of ancient Greek music and on Plato’s use and criticisms of ancient musical theory and practice.

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