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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractSocrates' daimonion [δαιμόνιον] is a very complicated issue. What the daimonion is and what roles it played in Socratic way of life are the two central and probably most difficult questions about this issue, since Plato and Xenophon provided different images of Socrates' daimonion. Still, this paper tries to list and analyze all Plato's and Xenophon's accounts concerning the daimonion in order to examine both similarities and differences between them and offer a comprehensive image of Socrates' daimonion that can answer the two central questions. In fact, these two questions are so important for Socrates' daimonion, because intrinsically they are in relation to the two charges Socrates faced: his impiety to the city-gods and his corruption of Athenian youths. No matter how distinct Plato’s description of daimonion is from Xenophon, they both attempted to defend their common teacher against the two charges. It is said that Socrates' daimonion caused the charge of his impiety, as Socrates only acknowledged his daimonion but not the city-gods that his contemporary Athenians believed in. Therefore, both Plato and Xenophon put much effort in arguing Socrates' daimonion proves his piety. Plato endeavored to demonstrate Socrates' daimonion belongs to the divine system of city-gods, while Xenophon in order to undermine the particularity of the daimonion, claimed it, other than name, has no difference from the divination that Athenians resort to. Furthermore, the accounts of Socrates' daimonion in the widely-accepted pseudo-Platonic dialogues Theages and Alcibiades I may offer a new reading of Socrates' daimonion. The daimonion seems to select those who have potential to philosophize as Socrates' interlocutors, but it cannot predict whether who will obtain benefit and when they will leave Socrates. Therefore, from a close reading of Theages and Alcibiades I, it can be shown that Alcibiades, the most notorious one of the youth whom Socrates was alleged to "corrupt", went on to his own destructive path rather than under the guidance of Socrates.
Degree ProgramGraduate College