Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy

Volume 13, Issue 2, Spring 2009

Selected Articles of the Ancient Philosophy Society

M. Ross Romero, S.J.
Pages 241-248

Without the Least Tremor
Ritual Sacrifice as Background in the Phaedo

Sacrifice haunts the Phaedo. In this article, I argue that the mise-en-scène of the death scene of the Phaedo, as well as other sacrificial elements in the background of the dialogue, creates a nexus that positively integrates the birth, philosophical practice, and death of Socrates into the ritualized rhythm of the life of the city of Athens. A close reading of the death scene presented as a synopsis with Walter Burkert’s well-known analysis of Greek sacrifice reveals convergences and divergences between the Phaedo and Greek sacrificial practice. Socrates appears as a willing victim who accepts the city’s sacrificial practice while remaining on his own terms.