Self-knowledge in Xenophon's memorabilia 4.2

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Abstract

Whereas Plato's Socrates discusses the Delphic maxim "Know Yourself" frequently, Xenophon's Socrates does so only once (Mem. 4.2.24), in his conversation with Euthydemus, a confident young man zealous about leading the city. Previous scholars have read Socrates as equating "knowing yourself" with "knowing your powers." But knowing your powers is only one condition of self-knowledge, as a closer reading of Mem. 4.2 shows, in particular Socrates' analogy about judging a horse for purchase. Knowing yourself means coming to act on the basis of your knowledge of justice and goodness, and acting on this basis frees you from a self-imposed enslavement. Xenophon's understanding is thus richer and more philosophically sophisticated than is usually assumed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-417
Number of pages21
JournalClassical Journal
Volume110
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Classics

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