Weekly Journal #7

Thursday February 25, 2016–11:10pm-12:30pm Lecture

For this lecture we discussed Plato’s Apology of Socrates. We looked at Socrates as a leader — did he lead or not?

Socrates aimed to create better leaders in the youth by encouraging to exercise their curiosity. His wisdom and guidance had resulted in himself gaining followers but I don’t believe his true intentions were to be classified as a leader. He appears to be more a spiritual and intellectual guide, but with such strong influence one tends to gain followers. This brought up the question of Influence vs. Authority in a leader. In my opinion, having the ability to influence people is a very significant quality in a leader. The fact that you are able to influence someone means that you impact them in a meaningful way in his/her life. However, influence is too much of a personal bond between leaders and followers. Authority, on the other hand, can sometimes be instilled with fear, and if a leader exhibits authority he/she has some form of power over the followers. Therefore, I would have to say that both qualities go hand in hand to contribute towards a great leader — standing alone with each quality would cause for a downfall in the leadership skills of a person.

In the case of Socrates, we had a strong discussion of whether or not he was a leader or not. We had previously established that majority of Socrates followers were the young males, but these youth which were his followers had more of a personal relationship with Socrates. In our discussion, we spoke about how a leader with authority over his/her followers obviously states the boundaries of the relationship. From that I could see why many of classmates disagreed that Socrates was not a leader. Socrates had crossed that boundary and did declare or exhibit authority over those who followed him. It stirred up the question of whether Socrates accepted his title as a leader or not? And I can also agree that he didn’t. He chose to be more of a mentor or a guide to the young men — to instill in them a sense to always seek knowledge and gain wisdom and to not be mediocre.

Even in the case of the gods, I don’t believe Socrates aimed to introduce new gods or that he was disowning the state gods. In my religion of Christianity, we are raised to never question God and his abilities or anything that he does. Similarly, these were the ideologies of the Athenian state and Socrates, being himself, constantly questioned the gods and their actions and their capabilities. He never settled for the mainstream beliefs and understanding of his counterparts or the Athenian society. The fact that he knew he knew nothing allowed for him to keep an open and active mind to search for more.

Our class discussion then carried over to comparing and differentiating between Socrates and one of his young followers, Alcibiades. Alcibiades portrayed multiple psychopathic traits, while Socrates on the other hand appeared as a simple and genuine character. However, they were both somewhat overly confident in their abilities and expressed grandiosity. Another similarity which intrigued me was the fact that they were both emotionally shallow which raises the question of why is it that most of these ancient philosophical leaders appear to be stoic?

Thursday February 25, 2016–3:30pm-4:30pm A Poet Or A God

This was my very first time attending a panel discussion relating to the arts, and in all truth it was not the most exciting topic or life-changing moment. However, I did learn a lot from listening and observing the people in the environment and I was awed by their fascination and love for the subject matter.

For this particular panel discussion, there was an image of a sculpture of a head provided and the question posed was “Is it an image of a god or a portrait of a poet?”

The following observations of the sculpture were made: the front of the head was preserved, but the back of the head was a bit broken which showed hair which reached the back of the neck. The ears of the head were missing and the inlays were missing which would have lightened up the face with color, and teeth are visible — mouth is half-open which implies speaking. The image portrayed a man at a threshold of old age: sunken forehead and shadows under the eyes.

The conductors of the panel stated that the image has a similar hairstyle to the statue of Zeus. However, Zeus’ statue does not show marks of old age. His skin is smooth; and no one would mistake it for a poet. Zeus’ statue with the head of wavy looks and skin without wrinkles clearly identifies the image portrayed is that of a god.

On the other hand, the image of discussion had locks of a god but skin of a human. So it was interesting that they pulled all these facts together to draw the question of “Which poet was described as divine?” Here I was introduced to the poet Homer, as the hypothesis they came to was that the image is the head of Homer. The image was a way of “casting Homer into Zeus” and Homer assumes Zeus’ image in this case.

The conclusion drawn at the end however was that the head was one of a poet who was a god in his own right and it doesn’t have to be either.

The part which sat with me most was the discussion of being a blind poet — where Professor Nagy stated that “an epic poet does not need to see, for the muses are able to tell him.” It stuck with me because that can stand so much more for poetry in the sense that if you’re not physically blind but you’re unable to find sight into what you’re doing or your life, there will be some force in your life to guide you.

Sunday February 28, 2016–4:00pm-5:30pm

Unfortunately, I missed the scavenger hunt as I wasn’t feeling well. However, once I woke up that day I spent my afternoon reading through the Xenophon’s Apology of Socrates. This account of Socrates trial appeared to be more personal and although Xenophon was not there, he relayed the information he received through Hermogenes.

Xenophon’s piece spoke about how Socrates had desired death, and he thought that it was fair. In this particular version, Socrates states how God has granted him mercy and allowed for him an easy death through the charges and the trial he is encountering. Socrates, being over the age of 70, stated that if he grew any older it would be pointless to live a life of no “experience” basically. If he were to live any longer, his hearing would worsen, his vision would be less clear, he would also be more forgetful and we know how much Socrates loves obtaining knowledge. What was the point to live if you can’t indulge in what you’re passionate about?

So is it that Xenophon’s account was more truthful? I honestly reading this piece as it was more of a personal account and it gave me a clearer insight. Plato’s version seemed to be too formal and lengthy of repetitive information. This information, which may be necessary to history, was just not as enticing as that of Xenophon’s.

Another part which stood out to me is when Socrates made point of Lycurgus, a Lacedaemonian law-giver. He stated that Lycurgus was compared to a god by the oracle who had said Socrates was the wisest. But also, we noticed that the oracle had state, in Xenophon’s version, that there was no one more wise, just or free than Socrates.

In this version, we are given the opportunity to see that Socrates was not guilty of his actions. He spoke among his acquaintances saying that Meletus has seen him making sacrifices to the state gods, so how is it that he is guilty of impiety? Plato never really addressed the charges made against Socrates.

I believe the difference between Plato’s and Xenophon’s versions is their relationship to Socrates and how they think of him. Xenophon appears to be more friendly with Socrates and those who admire and look up to him. Xenophon’s account may possibly be biased. Plato seemed to state the relative information of the trial.

What is the difference between a spiritual/intellectual and a political leader? A spiritual/intellectual leader is one who aims to bring forth change or improvement in someone’s life in regards to their soul and wisdom.

Spiritual leaders, in my opinion, don’t necessarily focus on religion but it relates to anything that comes back to the contentment of one’s spirituality. Sometimes one’s relationship to God or gods allows for them to feel whole and reformed. I am a religious person but that does not mean I limit my thoughts within the boundaries of Christianity. The point I am trying to make is that spiritual does not have to mean religious. Therefore, spiritual leaders are there to reform their followers and provide some form of opium in the lives of their followers. And it’s the same for intellectual leaders, in the sense that they are not trying to feed their followers with just knowledge. Intellectual leaders stir up the concept of “free-will” and questioning the answers we are given. I would refer to them as personal trainers of the brain — they allow for their followers to learn how to think for themselves and to ask questions. Similarly to Socrates, they want their followers to gain more understanding and to not accept the answers they are given.

Political leaders — probably my least favorite leaders — are people who lead by governing or managing. The former two leaders described are more of the influential leaders i.e. they have more personal relationships with their followers and they do not express very little to no authority. However, the latter is the opposite in this case where they do not form personal relationships with their followers but they utilize their general understanding of people to somewhat appear as if they know the crowd. Hence, political leaders are there to make decisions for their people and not guide them through their own decisions. Followers do not look up to them for guidance, but they expect political leaders to know what’s best. We seek guidance and answers from our spiritual/intellectual leaders.

Intellectual/spiritual leaders would probably would probably face inconsistency in trying to build relationships in a political environment. I don’t know how to explain it but although political leaders do stand for something they believe in, they sometimes lose their morals to carry out the necessary actions needed. I cannot picture an intellectual or spiritual person who is strong their beliefs willingly do so — just as how Socrates was not able to make a plea against his charges for he did not want to seem as if he were guilty.

In regards to the position of the Cannon Missioner to Historic Black Churches, I think the person who is best fit for this position is one who is very determined and loves what they are doing. It would be difficult in the sense that the person has to be organized, transparent and not yield to corruption. I believe one is capable of anything once they put their mind to get it done but honestly, I would not see myself doing this at all. It’s not something I am passionate about and I would dread every single day of going to work. I also have not held a position similar to one such as this.

Tuesday March 1, 2016–11:10pm-12:30pm Lecture

In class we discussed further in detail Xenophon’s Apology of Socrates.

We talked about how Xenophon’s report is more of a description of Socrates’ personal conduct before, during and after the trial. It explained why he didn’t defend himself. However, Plato provided a more philosophical approach of how Socrates saw death.

In Xenophon’s account of the Apology, we see how Socrates appeared to be more confident and arrogant — grandiose — in his speech. We were introduced to the Greek word megalegoria: which means to speak proudly/largely in a public setting. We see Socrates in a manner where he is ready to face death for his charges, because he did not think it was necessary or satisfactory to beg the jury to let him escape death. He refused to go into exile and he did not request to pay a fine, but he saw it as a way to die for what he believed in.

Hermogenes spoke of how the Athenian courts have often been swayed by eloquent speech and guilty men have been acquitted. However, Socrates was not interested in swaying those who chastised him. He did not want to plea with them for that would allow him to appear as if he were guilty.

Xenophon’s version was definitely in contrast to that of Plato’s but to determine which one gave more of a true account, I would both say they are true in their own sense. However, people can have different understandings and interpretations for the same thing depending on many factors.

Wednesday March 2, 2016–10:00pm-11:30pm

Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations seemed to me to be a prayer of thanks and appreciation of the influences he had in his life. Marcus Aurelius was a Roman Emperor, and was praised as one of the last of the Five Good Emperors.

In the Meditations, we see him acknowledging his grandfather for teaching him good morals and control of his temper. From his father he received his manliness and his modesty. His mother he learned piety and beneficence, and also abstinence from evil thoughts. She also taught him how to be humble and live a life of simplicity.

He referred to his great-grandfather, who taught him that he should that it’s more meaningful to spend to be home-schooled and gain knowledge than to go to public school

His governor he acknowledged that he learned endurance of labour, to be hardworking and not to meddle with other people’s affairs, and not to be ready to listen to slander.

He referred to Diognetus, who taught him how to not allow “trifling” things to occupy his time. He also taught him the importance of freedom of speech, and that he should learn philosophy, in particularly of Bacchius, Tandasis and Marcianus. Rusticus he said allowed him to understand that his character always needed improvement and discipline, to not be led astray, and to keep his writings simple.He stated that Apollonius taught him the freedom of will and undeviating steadiness of purpose, and how to be stoic. From Sextus, he learned how to be considerate and kind. Alexander the grammarian taught him how to refrain from finding faults and how to be polite when correcting others.

Continuing, he learned from Fronto how to observe what envy, and duplicity, and hypocrisy are in a tyrant. Alexander the Platonic taught him to make leisure time for others and to be responsible and accountable for his duties. Catulus taught him to love his children, to be supportive to his friends and to speak well of teachers.Severus showed him the importance of loving his family, the truth and justice. Severus taught him the value of equality, and the freedom of the people. He also learned from Severus to be consistent and to not deviate from his philosophy. He learned from him how to do good and to always cherish good. Maximus taught him self-government and how to always be happy despite the circumstances.

And lastly, to the gods he gave thanks for blessing him with such good people in his life to guide him and lead him.

I’m not sure what problems of leadership he was facing but as any leader of a strong nation, I guess he was battling with his morality whenever it came on to wars and doing what is best for his state — in this case, Rome. He was probably faced with difficulties of not finding time for his family and his children, and those who are near to me. He also may be faced with the issues of hypocrites around him and under his own rule. He may have also be worried or concerned with what the Roman people and his enemies had to say about him and he tried to not let it affect him or his duty. Most of all, he may have battled greatly with his humility, being that he was the emperor of the great Roman state.

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