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DiakoniaRe-Interpreting the Ancient Sources$
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John N Collins

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195396027

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195396027.001.0001

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Conclusion to Part I

Conclusion to Part I

(p.71) Conclusion to Part I

John N. Collins

Oxford University Press

In the second book of the Republic, Plato writes a few paragraphs on the place of trade and merchandising in society. His use of “diakonia” and its cognate words there is examined here in itself and then in association with usage in two other passages from the Politicus and Gorgias. Although the three passages discuss social functions, they use our words in quite different ways. Thus, in the first the word group provides a colorless term in the definition of a non-political function, in the second it denotes a function that is highly compatible with political activity, and in the third a function that exemplifies political ineptitude. If despite the differences of meaning that these uses imply, an aspect of meaning is nonetheless observable that is common to all three, a valuable insight will have been gained. This chapter discusses the functions of the subordinate and the go-between, the Greek god Hermes, and Greek slaves.

Keywords:   Republic, Plato, trade, merchandising, social functions, subordinate, go-between, Hermes, slaves, diakonia

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