Volume 14, Issue 1, Fall 2009
Socrates in Drag
Images of Helen of Troy in Plato’s Phaedrus
By way of the complex topography of the Phaedrus, Plato raises the question of his authorship and the consequences it has for the reader’s reception of Socrates, by likening Socrates’ changing status in the text to the complex mythological traditions surrounding the rape and abduction of Helen of Troy (amidst a grove of plane trees). As Socrates is likened to the excessive and “duplicitous” Helen and her various “eidolic” apeareances, the question of the dialogue appears to shift from “who is Socrates?” to a more postmodern formulation: which Socrates?