“Phaedo” and Mystery-Religions

By Irine Darchia.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

The research of the relationship between Plato and the mystery religions shows that, on the one hand, Plato’s dialogues help to study the history of religion, and on the other hand, the history of religion itself gives the possibility to cognize Plato’s works better. Interrelation of “Phaedo” and the mystery-religions shows us the following: In the dialogue we can observe the complex and varied phenomenon of the ancient Greek religion, some characters of which are rejected by Plato, but some of them are accepted and, according to his intention, are transformed by him. The researchers, when discussing the interrelation between “Phaedo” and mystery religions, usually ignore one more interesting factor: It is the importance of knowledge and memory in both ritual initiation and the process of philosophizing. There is the analogy between the mystery rites and the epistemology of “Phaedo”; recollection, one of its central elements, is the demand of mystery as well. It is one of the goals that a Mystes aims at. In “Phaedo”, Plato’s concepts of philosophy and a philosopher are full of mystery impulses of purity and initiation, and at the same time they are based on the Orphic dualism of soul and body, which once more is connected to Plato’s epistemology. Plato requires from a philosopher the same things that a mystery requires from the initiated. The spiritual reward promised by the mysteries to the blessed is ascribed by Plato to the field of philosophy.
Plato not only proves his opinion on the philosopher and philosophizing theoretically, but also gives its illustration in the dialogue. In “Phaedo”, Socrates is a live pattern of the Platonic conception of a philosopher, and Socrates death, the most important fact of the spiritual life of Athens, is described as a real mystery, the logical end of a philosopher’s life.

Keywords: Plato, “Phaedo”, Mystery, Religion, Philosophy

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 11, pp.99-106. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 530.468KB).

Dr. Irine Darchia

Associate Professor, Deputy Head, Institute of Classical, Byzantine and M odern Greek Studies, Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Tbilisi, Georgia

Irine Darchia is Associate Professor in Classical Philology, Deputy Director of the Institute of Classical, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies and Head of Quality Assurance Service of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University. She defended her doctoral thesis on Plato’s Phaedo (Literature, Philosophy, Mythology, Mysticism) in 1998 and her post-doctoral thesis (Habilitation) on Colour Phenomenon in Greek Tragedy in 2005. Dr. Irine Darchia systematically participates in international conferences, seminars, workshops, trainings, projects concerning classical and modern Greek studies, educational issues and Bologna Process (Georgia, Greece, Italy, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria). She is teaching at the Departments of Classical, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies and she was visiting professor at Freie University (Germany) and University of Pisa (Italy). Dr. Irine Darchia knows 6 foreign languages (English, Russian, Modern Greek, Italian, Ancient Greek, Latin) and has written 4 books (2 monographs, handbook, dictionary).

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