A Comparison Of Theseus And The Minotaur In Plato's Phaedo

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The µῦθος of Theseus and the Minotaur is alluded to near the start of Plato’s Phaedo by the character Phaedo (58 B-C) to initiate a parallel between the µῦθος itself and the teachings of the character Socrates in the pages that follow. As the discussion between Socrates and his companions continues up until his death, this parallel becomes ever more clear, and by the end of the Phaedo it is reasonable to interpret the µῦθος as an analogy for the transition from life to death, where Socrates is counterpart to the Minotaur and the mechanism for his death is analogous to Theseus.
With regards to a comparison between Socrates and the Minotaur, this relationship can be perhaps accurately generalized as a comparison between any person and the Minotaur
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As Theseus slays the Minotaur, Socrates is put to death by the verdict of his fellow Athenians. In both cases a mortal actor decides to break apart an unnatural union put in place by the gods. In the case of the Minotaur, Theseus views the tributes paid by Athens to Minos as malignant to Athens, and thus he acts to stop those forced tributes by slaying the Minotaur. In the case of Socrates, the people of Athens and the subsequent jury of Socrates’ peers views the actions of Socrates as malignant to Athens, and thus they act to stop his alleged behavior by ordering his death. Important to this aspect of the analogy is the perspective of what is malignant and what is beneficial. In both cases – with both Theseus striking down the Minotaur and with the Athenians sentencing to death Socrates – those committing the lethal action likely think that they are maligning the object of their action. This is clear in the case of Socrates, evidenced by the vast majority of the Phaedo consisting of Socrates trying to convince his companions that he is not being harmed, and it is reasonable to think – based on analysis of the mythology of Theseus’ life – that Theseus does not believe he is doing a service to the Minotaur by killing it. He, rather, is killing it for the benefit of Athens and, as he is a tribute, himself. Further, in both cases, the creature eventually …show more content…
Socrates was renowned for his ugliness, and the Minotaur – being a grotesque monstrosity of two species combined together – was not likely pleasant to view. While this certainly may seem trivial and seem coincidental, it does further the strength of the analogy between the circumstances of the Phaedo and the µῦθος of Theseus and the Minotaur as here

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