Weekly Journal Update 7

Thursday, February 25th, 11:10 AM to 12:30 PM.

Phusis is the Greek word for the study of nature, or the Greek name for natural philosophy. Physics is derived from this word.

Daimonion is a personal spirit like the one Socrates had. This spirit or oracle was his outer conscious, it seems. It told him when not to do something much like when Athena stopped Achilles from murdering Agamemnon. Demon comes from this Greek word because any voices heard that weren’t Christian automatically associated you with demonic possession.

It is clear that Socrates wanted to train leaders how to improve their souls instead of becoming a leader of Athenian society himself. In the process of this training, did he actually become a leader? He gained many followers during his guided questioning of the wise men of Athens, but does having followers automatically make someone a leader? Having people that looked up to and admired him allowed Socrates to influence the thoughts and actions of the youth who even imitated his controversial questioning. Does that ability to influence make him a leader? We discussed the difference between influencing people and having authority over them. If you have authority over a group of people, you have the power to make commands that will be listened to. People choose whether or not they want to be influenced by somebody by deciding if they want to keep coming around them; this is why I think influence is more telling of a more well liked leader than authority. If a leader is able to influence their followers without the forceful use of authority then that’s something to be proud of, but if the person in question does not possess some sort of authority can he actually lead effectively? If he can’t command his followers to get them in line when the need arises, his power is virtually non-existent. Authority is necessary for a more effective leader. Socrates did not have authority over his followers, so to me, he did not seem very leaderly.

Socrates had leadership qualities, but he was not a leader when it came down to it. It was never his goal to be classified as a leader, so this assumed leadership role was unintended on Socrates’ part. It is important to have the intent to lead if you are a leader. If the intent is not there, there’s no desired outcome or goal that is trying to be achieved. Some listed courage to stand up for what he believed in and defy the Athenian status quo as good leadership qualities. They also said that Socrates’ curiosity was a good leadership quality.

In Socrates’ eyes, the gods were the true leaders. His quest was to understand the gods better as well as what wisdom was. Socrates saw himself as the gods’ tool to enlighten the Greeks.

The Athenian elite were uncomfortable with him because they were afraid he would have political influence through his followers. He was a threat to Greek democracy.

At the end of the class, Dr. Sandridge listed differences and similarities between Socrates and Alcibiades. Socrates was a simple spoken man who focused on pursuing the truth rather than becoming an eloquent speaker. He was not able to read others like Alcibiades. Alcibiades was also a master of eloquence that was the result of much studying. Socrates was not involved in politics, but Alcibiades was. Socrates was all about obeying the law and following the wishes of the city. He went through with the trial and did not flee when they city condemned him to death. Alcibiades, on the other hand, was a law breaker who defied the city’s wishes by fleeing them instead of going to face the charges and decision to put him to death. Socrates was known for his anti-aggression and would rather have been harmed rather than harm someone else. Alcibiades engaged in instrumental aggression as well as reactive aggression. Socrates was concerned with wisdom while Alcibiades was concerned with his status and honor. Socrates led unintentionally by making Athens right with the gods while Alcibiades led by bringing pride to the community through his accomplishments. Socrates was very pious although he was charged with impiety. Alcibiades was impious. Socrates let others profit from him, choosing not to take money for his teachings like the sophists. Alcibiades profited from others. Socrates was a truth teller, and Alcibiades was a pathological liar. Socrates never left Athens aside from military expeditions. Alcibiades goes many places after leaving Athens like Sparta. Socrates was poor, and Alcibiades was very wealthy.

They also shared some similarities. There was a bit of grandiosity about both of them. Socrates saw himself as the chosen one by the gods. He was misunderstood by the people of Athens who were going against the gods by condemning him for doing their work. Both did what they thought was right despite the opinions of those around them. Both were anti-democratic. Both seemed to be emotionally shallow.

Saturday, February 27th, 3:00 PM to 6:30 PM.

I typed my summary of Thursday’s class then I read Xenophon’s Apology of Socrates.

A key difference from Plato’s version of Socrates’ words centered on Socrates’ supposed desire for death. Xenophon used a conversation Socrates had with Hermogenes, the son of Hipponicus, to show that Socrates preferred death over living any longer. In this conversation, Socrates said that he had no need for coming up with an eloquent defense that could save his life. His daimonion forbade it. He said that as he got older, his body would begin to fail him, making his life less meaningful or worthy of living. He would ultimately lose his hearing, vision, and memory and was not willing to go through that. This is the mindset Socrates had when he entered his trial.

There is a greater focus on Socrates’ perplexity at how Meletus believes that he does not worship the gods that are worshiped by the state. It was no secret that he made sacrifices at communal festivals and public alters. In Xenophon’s version, he also clarified that his daimonion was very much connected to the state gods, not a separate being from them. He said his daimonion was just a voice that warned him of bad courses of action. Socrates claimed this was no different than people considering the cries of birds or thunder as bad omens. These were just different types of voices than the one that he heard. He also compared his daimonion’s voice to that of the oracle of Delphi’s. By acknowledging his voice as divine, he believes he is being more truthful and deeply religious. These words upset the jurors who either reacted with disbelief or envy. The jurors’ reactions were not included in Plato’s version.

Socrates then added that Chaerephon inquired about him to the Delphic oracle to which Apollo responded that nobody was more just, prudent, or free than Socrates was. This upset the jurors further. Socrates then spoke of Lycurgus, a Lacedaemonian law-giver, whom the oracle compared to a god. Socrates mentioned him to show that Socrates himself was not compared to a god. He then continued by trying to explain what the oracle meant in her comment about him. He questions the jurors to see if they can come up with anybody more free, just, or wise than he. He points out that people value being around him and show this through gifts they know he can’t possibly repay. People actually say they are indebted to him. He says all this and more to say that he deserves praise from both men and the gods.

Meletus claims Socrates has corrupted the youth by convincing them to listen to him instead of their parents. Socrates actually admits to this, justifying his actions by saying that he is an expert in the matter of education so it is only right that the youth listen to him over their parents. Socrates admitting that he has indeed corrupted the youth in any type of way is new. Another difference is that Xenophon did not report the entire trial’s proceedings like Plato did.

Socrates’ whole concern was to not commit an impious act and to make sure that he did not do any human wrong. Xenophon gave more support for Socrates’ acceptance of his approaching death. Socrates did not name a penalty for himself for he thought that was an admission of guilt; he asked his friends to name a penalty for him. He also chooses not to flee the city when his friends come to take him away before he is to die.

After the decision is made, Socrates condemns those that condemned him and states that he is dying unjustly because it was not proven that he was guilty of the charges against him. He also made a comment about the choice of the death penalty for his supposed crimes did not compare to those that usually ended in death. He compared his fate to Odysseus unjustly putting Palamedes to death. He knows he helped those that he spoke to.

Xenophon then noted the way in which he walked out of the trial with those surrounding him crying. He comforted them by saying that he was set to die with nothing positive to look forward to, so they needed to be happy for him.

Apollodorus exclaimed that he was upset Socrates was being put to death unjustly to which Socrates questioned would Apollodorus rather him be put to death justly?

Anytus is said to have passed Socrates, and Socrates thought that he was probably very proud of himself for getting Socrates put to death. In that moment he decided to make a prophecy regarding the son of Anytus. He said that Anytus’ son would grow up to become disgraceful to his father’s name which did occur. Anytus’s son became a lover of drinking and turned out to be quite worthless.

Xenophon spoke very highly of Socrates.

Plato’s Apology was much longer. It seemed that Xenophon’s main goal was to praise Socrates. It sounded like he was one of Socrates’ admirers.

I believe an intellectual/spiritual leader would most always have the good of their followers in mind. I do not believe a political leader could be described the same way. Their goals would more likely interfere with what the people want accomplished. Political leaders just seem extremely untrustworthy while spiritual/intellectual leaders do not.

I believe it would be extremely difficult for the person that was chosen for the position of Canon Missioner to Historic Black Churches to make those that he had to work with happy with his decisions. There seems to be so many people that he would have to try to please. I also think it would be difficult to learn all the information about the history of these churches and decide the best courses of action for each. I feel like people would try to bribe or persuade him to do something that would benefit themselves. The whole job just seems like a lot to deal with. It almost seems like too much for one person. I honestly don’t believe I’ve ever held a position of leadership that was similar to this. I definitely would never be a good candidate for this job because I’m an atheist. Working with multiple churches would be my own personal Hell if I believed a place like that existed. I wouldn’t mind learning about the churches though. I enjoy learning abut history. It just wouldn’t be fun for me to work with church people as a career.

Tuesday, March 1st, 11:10 AM to 12:30 PM.

Xenophon’s Apology was written in 365 BCE, twenty years after Plato wrote his Apology in 385 BCE. Dr. Sandridge noted that Greeks were still trying to answer why Athens put such a wise man to death thirty-four years after it happened.

Xenophon was a contemporary of Plato’s. He was a philosopher whose status is disputed. He was no where near as influential as Plato. He also hung out with Socrates a little. He was a knight in the Athenian cavalry, making him a leader in his own right. While Socrates’ trial was taking place, he was busy leading ten thousand Greeks out of Persia where they had gone to install a Persian prince on the thrown after overthrowing that Prince’s brother. Xenophon is what Dr. Sandridge called an ideal leader; he was also a leadership theorist which is seen when he writes about Cyrus the Great in Cyropaedia. Paedia is the Greek word for education. W get the words pedagogy and encyclopedia from this word.

Was Socrates really corrupting the youth or giving them paedia?

We spent a large portion of class highlighting the differences between the two works. In Plato’s version, Socrates took a more philosophical approach to death and saw it as a positive thing for he saw death as either eternal sleep or a chance to convene with the wisest men that ever lived. In Xenophon’s version, Socrates was more pragmatic and focused on the reality of a failing body that would come with old age. He said he would be lucky to be able to skip these years.

Socrates is much more grandiose in Xenophon’s version. His speech can be described as megalegoria or proud, uncompromising talk or to speak largely in a public setting. He shows no humility. When the oracle of Delphi calls him the most just, prudent, and free, he does not question it like he does when the oracle calls him wise in Plato’s version. He accepts it as true. He wasn’t trying to win, so there was no need to play on the emotions of the jurors or something of the sort. By saying that his daimonion was a voice directly from the gods, the jurors believed he was saying he was more important than they were since he was chosen to hear this voice from the gods. They were not happy about that at all.

In Xenophon’s version, Socrates chooses not to suggest a penalty for himself because he saw that as an admission of guilt. In Plato’s, he jokes by saying that he deserves daily meals in the Prytaneum as a reward for his service to the city which angers the jurors. Both of these accounts are uncompromising. Which of these two versions of Socrates has a better argument to make? Plato’s Socrates’ argument depends on the jurors believing that he is an asset to the city of Athens which they clearly do not. The Prytaneum was joked about in a very condescending way, but Plato’s Socrates knew they would not do that for him. If it were Xenophon’s Socrates, he would definitely believe Athens should feed him daily.

Socrates did not have to accept death in either account. Xenophon notes that the death penalty is usually saved for people who rob temples, murder, etc. Socrates could have seriously offered exile or the payment of a large fine and walked out alive. Socrates was against going to exile because that would not stop him from death anyway. He was seen as making a stand for philosophy. He had to die as a testament to the importance of the field much like a martyr who bears witness to faith or philosophical tradition. Socrates death was compared to Nero’s, as he slit his wrist, fading off into death while practicing philosophy. Socrates’ stand is the origin of civil disobedience. As we know, Martin Luther King, Jr. was known for this and it could be seen in his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”.

Why do the two accounts have so many differences? It really depends on what the author of the particular account wants to say. They will change whatever is necessary to make Socrates be portrayed in whatever light they wish. He is their mouthpiece and most like not like historical Socrates. This is just how history was done back in the ancient world.

This makes one consider how accurate the life of Jesus was portrayed in the Bible.

Prudence comes from providentia, or looking forward. Don’t cater to your immediate appetite. Hold out for delayed gratification. In Xenophon’s version, Socrates was classified as prudent. He was always looking ahead for an opportunity to be a good person.

Dr. Sandridge called Socrates the John Stewart of his day.

In Xenophon’s version, Socrates’ daimonion was his guardian spirit which sounds very positive. It indicated his duties. In Plato’s version, his daimonion only hindered him from making certain decisions. If the daimonion would have informed him of positive things then that would force Socrates to contradict himself because he would then know something although he claimed to know nothing.

In Xenophon’s version, there is no notion that Socrates is a gadfly in service to the state for the gods. He helps others on an individual level. Philanthropia means the love of humanity. This is what Socrates has in Xenophon’s version.

At the end of the class, we talked about the Canon Missioner to Historically Black Churches position. Dr. Sandridge said we might be young, but we need to be prudent. Our degree isn’t just about obtaining the first job we get; it’s about obtaining the last job as well. This position would require executive management, a clearly spiritual component, and political component. The person chosen would be the hatchet man, or the person brought in to do a disagreeable task such as cut some congregations that might not be financially stable or have an aging or small number of people. This is the triage we were discussing which reminded me of the nurses in Pearl Harbor using lipstick to mark the foreheads of those that were worth trying to save.

Would this job be for Socrates or Alcibiades? I’d say it’d be a job for Alcibiades because his chameleon-like qualities would come in handy.

The job would require the person chosen to go to each congregation and determine whether or not it was financially sustainable. Tidings and the age of the congregation would be a couple of factors that would need to be looking at. One would need to be able to deliver bad news in a way that wouldn’t be hurtful. The person would have to be able to find a way to access the necessary data which might be difficult if people found out what he was doing. The information could also mysteriously become skewed this way. The Canon Missioner would have to be empathetic, at least in appearance. One would have to pretend like the opinions of the congregation actually mattered when in reality they didn’t. He would also have advisory duties.

I don’t see myself as ever manipulating people on this scale on purpose or being so dishonest. I’d be ashamed of myself. My dream leadership position is the head of a non-profit for minority youth.

Wednesday, March 2nd, 8:00 PM to 1:30 AM.

Marcus Aurelius was born on April 26th in 121 and died on March 17th in 180 which made him 59. He was the Roman Emperor from 161 until his death. He was a co-emperor with Lucius Verus from 161 to 169 when Verus died. He was the ast of the Five Good Emperors and was the most important Stoic philosopher.

Avidius Cassius was his general and sacked the Parthian capital Ctesiphon in 164 which was key in their defeat. In central Europe, they fought the Marcomanni, Quadi, and Sarmatians in the Marcomannic Wars and succeeded but failed to overthrow the Germanic tribes.

His Meditations was written in Greek from 170 to 180 and is still celebrated today as a monument to the philosophy of service and duty. It describes how to find equanimity, or a balanced mind, in the face of conflict by using nature as a source of guidance and inspiration. It was a source for his own guidance and improvement. It was originally titled “To Myself” but was changed after his death. The only surviving complete copy of the manuscript is in the Vatican library. He was only mentioned sporadically in ancient literature, so it is not known how far his writings spread.

Marcus Aurelius can be learned about through the Historia Augusta which is a group of biographies written by one biographer. The later biographies and biographies of lesser known emperors or usurpers are mainly inaccurate, but the earlier ones are not. His tutor, Fronto, wrote letters to Antonine officials which date from 138 to 166. Meditations also gives us a look into Marcus’ life although it can’t be dated and he doesn’t speak about what’s going on in the world. Cassius Dio gives us the greatest historical narrative of Rome from this time period but it is watered down by his own political leanings and things of that nature. It covers the period from the creation of Rome until 229 in 80 books. The physician, Galen, writes on the habits of the Antonine elite. Aelius Aristides writings and constitutions in the Digest and Codex Justinianus give us a look into the time period and Marcus’ legal work respectively.

He was referred to as the philosopher king even after his death by Dio, the biographer, Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, and Melito. He not only knew philosophical doctrines but lived his life by them which was seen in his character and temperate way of life. Iain King said that Marcus’ reign ended tragically because those leaders that came after him did not continue his Stoic philosophical leadership.

During Marcus’ reign, the persecutions of Christians were at an all time high. During the Germanic war, these persecutions increased considerably.

Marcus ended up marrying his first cousin, Faustina the Younger, in 145; they had 13 children.

I then moved on to read Meditations.

His grandfather taught him about morality and how to control his temper. His mother taught him about piety and beneficence, or taking the welfare of others into account. She also taught him to avoid evil actions and thoughts and to keep his life simple, avoiding luxury. His great grandpa taught him to learn at home instead of in a public school. He learned to be his own person from his governor as well as the power found in working hard without giving in, to want little, to work with his hands, to mind his business, and to be prepared to be slandered.

Diognetus taught him not to sweat the small stuff, to not pay people that claim to be involved with things of the supernatural sort any mind like the Christians and to ultimately rely on reason, to not fight quails or let these pointless, demeaning passions rule his life, to allow others to have their freedom of speech, to learn philosophy, to listen to the philosophers Bacchius, Tandasis, and Marcianus, to write dialogues, and to deprive oneself of luxuries in order to humble yourself and live as the poorest of men do.

Rusticus sought to improve and provide discipline to his character. He taught him that complex rhetoric was unnecessary and that he should not be kind only to get attention. He taught him to be simple in his words and to be respectful of all people and be open to reconciliation as well as to read books carefully.

Apollonius taught him about the freedom of will and how important having a purpose is. Don’t look anywhere but to reason. He taught him that you can compromise without giving up what you believe and to not associate people who boasted about being a philosopher. He also learned to receive favors without disregarding them or allowing them to get to him too much.

From Sextus, he learned how to be kinder, how to be a better father, how to conform to nature. He advised to ignore ignorant people and take care of your friends.He saw in Sextus how to not be obnoxious.

Alexander the grammarian taught him how to correct others’ use of words without being too rude or forward through suggesting a more appropriate phrase.

From Fronto, he learned how to observe tyrants. He also taught Marcus that Patricians weren’t very fatherly.

Alexander the Platonic taught him to pay attention to those he was close to as well as not to lie to say he is busy.

Catalus taught him to cheer up his friends, to speak well of teachers, and to love his kids.

Severus taught him to love his family, truth, and justice. He also taught Marcus that all those he governed should be free as well as the privilege of being held to uphold the same laws. He taught him to be consistent in his study of philosophy. He taught him to radiate positivity. He taught him to be real and up front in his words.

Maximus taught him to be in control of himself and to always be happy. He taught him not to complain. Maximus was believed not to ever have bad intentions. He was good at hiding his emotions. He was kind, forgiving, and not fake. He would do the right thing no matter what. Nobody was his enemy or believed to be better than him. He was funny.

He learned how to be modest, humble, and manly from his father. He learned to listen to others and saw that his father gave up his longing to be with boys. He was inquisitive and persistent. He sought to keep and be understanding in his friendships. He tried to always be ready for the future. He was taught to be a careful leader, especially when it came to money. He taught him to be accountable. He did not use flattery as a tool to get what he wanted. He was not greedy. He respected philosophers. He took care of himself physically. If somebody was more knowledgeable on a subject, he allowed them to take over when teaching it. He was a man of the people and sought to better his kingdom. He was not materialistic. He was not mean or violent. He claimed he had a perfect and invincible soul.

He owed the gods for the good people around him. He was happy he never crossed them. He was thankful that he waited to have sex and wasn’t raised with his great-grandpa’s concubine. He is thankful for his father who took away his pride and taught him that modesty and the avoidance of luxury was possible as a king. He thanked them for making him a private person. He learned from his brother’s moral characters. He was thankful his kids weren’t deformed or stupid. He was glad he stayed away from rhetoric, poetry, and other studies. He was happy he was able to live according to nature and that he never did anything for which he had to repent. He was thankful for his wife and the teachers of his children. He was thankful he wasn’t taught by a sophist.

I feel like he was grappling with the normal problems of leadership like reconciling his wants with those of his people. He clearly had a problem with their freedom before he was taught otherwise. It seems like he might have had a difficult time behaving leader-like at some points. I’d write more, but I’m honestly really tired of writing.

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