Volume 13, Issue 2, Spring 2009
Selected Articles of the Ancient Philosophy Society
M. Ross Romero, S.J.
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.