The Death of the Academy: A Dialogue

DiogenesIt is noontide, disparate groups of people gather near a fountain from which no water flows.  Socrates is standing with Alcibiades,  they look around the square at the various people coming and going.

Plato stands back, leaning on the rim of the fountain, scratching notes into a small book.  Diogenes approaches with his lantern, coming to harass Socrates and his coterie, as is his daily ritual.

Diogenes: (holds his lantern up to the faces of those he passes on his way toward Socrates) I am looking for an honest man.  Can any of you point me in the right direction?  Is any of you an honest man? (louder and toward Socrates) I am looking for an honest man! Yo there, is that Socrates I see?  Have we indeed found our honest man?  Are you honest, Socrates?

Socrates: (grasps Alcibiades forearm and whispers something in his ear, trying to ignore Diogenes.  Alcibiades smiles and gazes at a group of youths which is approaching the fountain.)

Diogenes: (pretends to be exasperated)  Oh not this again! Silence! Will you ignore me again, Socrates?  Do you prefer blindness, blind force over openness, ignorance to conversation?  (taunts) I thought that you were a master of discourse, of the spoken word.  Has that cat over there got your tongue?  Or, are you angry with me?

Socrates: (continues to ignore Diogenes, whispering in the ear of Alcibiades, who smiles as he gazes at the youths.)

Diogenes: (mocks) And you Alcibiades, have you cured your master’s bout of pig’s itch, has your beauty cured his long sickness unto death, has his madness flown away that he no longer wishes to speak of truth, of wisdom? Have you indeed corrupted your master?   And, you the master, Socrates, what frightens you – that I will steal your beautiful lad, take him away from you to keep for myself?

Alcibiades: (scornful) Go away old man, back to your cave! You have no business with us and we none with the likes of you!  Move along from here, Diogenes, leave friends in peace to enjoy the afternoon.

Socrates: (grasps Alcibiades arm, Socrates pulls his ear toward his mouth.  He shows his displeasure with Alcibiades’ words to Diogenes as this was the acknowledgement which Diogenes craved).

Alcibiades: (bitter look upon his face, he tears his arm away from Socrates and quickly bolts away to the other side of the fountain.

Diogenes: (laughing jeers, mocking Socrates)  Who will hide you now Socrates? Will you not talk to me, look me in the eyes?  I seek an honest man, could you be that one, my dear Socrates?  You must know that I have no interest in the pretty youths that flaunt themselves around you, who use you for your knowledge – no, I have no interest in these many pebbles – it is you who I seek to fathom –

To read the rest of the dialogue, please visit The Death of the Academy


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