Without the Least Tremor
This dissertation begins with a brief literature review of contemporary scholarship about sacrifice and the Phaedo. Chapter 1 provides a description of a Greek sacrificial ritual. Drawing on recent scholarship concerning Greek sacrificial practice, I conclude that the most significant feature of animal sacrifice was that it maintained a proportion between gods and men. In a sacrifice, a proportion between gods and men was enacted and set forth that would have been deeply interwoven with the day-to-day life of the polis, Chapter 2 argues that there are many similarities between the death scene and a Greek sacrificial ritual such that the entire mise-en-scène of the death scene has "the look" of a Greek sacrificial ritual. Since a Greek sacrificial ritual enacts a proportion between gods and men that is crucial for the maintenance of the city, we should expect that the death of Socrates in the Phaedo would enact a similar proportion by providing a logos of life and death. Nevertheless, there are elements in the death scene that also suggest a rupture of sacrificial economy. Chapter 3 offers a close reading of the "second sailing" passage in the Phaedo and argues that through it Socrates provides a way of doing philosophy that both acknowl-edges the limitations of mortals while seeking to set forth an account of life and death, of generation and destruction as a whole, that is proportionate. Although the death of Socrates in the Phaedo unfolds according to sacrificial themes it is not a tragedy, for its goal is to restore a version of the archaic ratio that is now appropriate for mortals who, after Socrates' self-sacrifice, are aware of their limitations. In witnessing the Phaedo one is offered a vision of an enactment of a proportion between gods and men such as one might have witnessed at a Greek sacrificial ritual. Chapter 4 explores the discussion of the soul and its relationship to the body in the Phaedo. An examination of the section in which Socrates calls death "nothing but a separation of the soul from the body" reveals that such a logos is really disproportionate and comic. In contrast to this view of the soul, I argue that Socrates presents a logos of the soul that can act "as if" it is other than itself. In this way, the soul is able to reconsti-tute itself as proportional. Finally, the epilogue points out the differences between my interpretation of the Phaedo and Nietzsche's. While Nietzsche sees the death of Socrates as enacting a pes-simistic view of embodiment, I contend that Socrates' death--seen as a sacrifice--may be linked to a Derridean notion of triage to reveal how the ethical situation of the Phaedo is really one of vigilance without reserve rather than salvation or escape.