Some Misquotations of Homer in Plato

"Some Misquotations of Homer in Plato," Phronesis 8, no. 2 (1963): 173-78. Reprinted in The Archaeology of the Soul, 2012.


“Plato often has Socrates and his other characters quote Homer. Their quotations for the most part exactly agree with our vulgate, but sometimes they differ. The most recent and careful study of these variants (La Barbe, Le’Homere De Platon) concluded that Plato cited from a text that the “oral tradition” had influence. Although La Barbe’s thesis has been doubted, no one has yet, as far as I am aware, accounted for the variants without appealing to a tradition other than ours. He we propose to show that some of these misquotations could be deliberate. Plato would have forced Homer’s lines as we know them to conform to the context in which he has placed them. We cannot of course strictly prove deliberateness on Plato’s part, nor should it be demanded, for our ‘proofs’ will depend on what isn’t there: the absent context of the Homeric quotation. All we can show is that the deformed lines when read with the vulgate in mind cohere more closely with the Platonic context that they would do by themselves.”