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Cultural Responses to the Persian WarsAntiquity to the Third Millennium$
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Emma Bridges, Edith Hall, and P. J. Rhodes

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199279678

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199279678.001.0001

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Plato and the Persian Wars

Plato and the Persian Wars

(p.85) 5 Plato and the Persian Wars
Cultural Responses to the Persian Wars

Christopher Rowe

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows that Plato's brilliant parody of a funeral speech, Menexenus wholly undercuts the Athenians' formulaic idealization of their glorious past and the rhetorical conventions they had invented in order to consolidate this ideological procedure. The Atlantis of the Timaeus and Critias is more than an allegorical polis cryptically ‘standing for’ Athenian expansionist naval power: it plays a more ironic role in Plato's use of the Persian Wars tradition; the Atlantis myth examines ‘what kind of victory Athens would have needed to win in order to deserve the encomium Menexenus denies it’. Crucially, the chapter offers a powerful corrective to the dominant traditions seen elsewhere in (primarily) Athenian sources that the Persian Wars were seen by all as a cause only for celebration.

Keywords:   Plato, Menexenus, Athenians, Persian Wars, Atlantis myth

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