The Mythopoetic Mind of Plato: The Kingdom-Sage’s Muthos in Timaeus, The Republic, and The Symposium (Parts V & VI)
V. Archelaus Kingless
Archelaus, general of Pontus
Perseid, brigadier of Archelaus
Soldier of Pontus
Mithridates IV (Mithridates), king of Pontus
Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix (Sulla), consul of Rome
Aristion, tyrant of Athens
A Chorus of Athenian citizens and their Leader
TIME AND SCENE: The port harbour of Piraeus, 88 BC. Civilians of Athens have defected to the Pontic Empire of Mithridates IV, in rebellion against the Roman occupation.
A few days have passed from this inauguration of saviours, and Archelaus has sent Perseid to gather the city’s most prized treasure. He awaits Perseid on the coast, near his naval fleet. A chorus of civilians question the fate of Athens.
Archelaus: I cannot say that this strife is all but selfless,
naked as the day—I have seen men, women
burnt under my sword, the sword of my command:
what say you, soldier, to ease mind harried?
Soldier: If I were ever paid silver coins to consider,
then… then I would perish uncomely
as a philosophic idiot under that heretic blade
of the truly inconsiderate. Unthink it.
The harbour blisters with a beauty taken.
But ho, general! Archelaus of Cappadocia,
I come pressed with pronouncements
on Bendideia, the hunting feast decadent.
And this Roman, an opponent by league,
holds not his tongue peaced:
“I, Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix, protectorate
in power and in empire most mighty
as Rome’s one true consul, am the rightful
master of Athens—fear me wisely!
Your Pontic trespassing is teething with war.
Sons of Greece you may be, that fire
bastard and born of infant ferocity dull.
Rotten and rooted, I will divine the
fate of your master upon white gold gleaned.
Is this justice? What noble falsehoods
do you spring from? Cunning and courage,
smeared thick and pure at the union
of foxes and lions, swearing high fealty to
all those that are gifted by the twins,
Romulus and Remus, regents spirited wild
of my heart grievously offended. Mercy,
I have none. I march to your coming madness;
Chaeronea will see you pinning for Pluto!
if the winter and wolves do not tear, devour.”
Archelaus: Where is your charged officer, Perseid?
Soldier: Near, I see black flag and corpus with his news
and teeming wondrous plunders tasted—
A soldier’s one and only great demise, if refused.
Archelaus: My brother, what foundless treasures?
Perseid: Yes, indeed, the iron hearth of Mithridates IV broken
to a thousand suns would have a hard spells
offering more gilded riches to its fondly mad king.
And that should respite the rule of others,
Supremely forever off of our backs—no, bother?
But, I have a tale for you, strange in nature,
When upon the academy I noticed peril peculiar.
I thought nothing of the place, yet, by Jove,
They thought everything of me, like centurions
guarded before treaty—I slew only natural
and that which provoked, and knew not the intent
of my attacker. I could see only aftermath
cradled in blood before a scant book scattered.
I asked a local Greek to decipher the dialect.
Told me that they were myths, drivel of a traitor
called Plato and his Republic. I did not know
that people would ever die for a myth…
Archelaus: Neither did your sword, but it took fairly—
What value is this, we are not statesmen?
Perseid: None that I know. Moments are what I could not
discard, not after felling men no prouder than
this instrument that I have become, face-stealer.
I took grief in mystery, and I read what cause
had driven me to unkindness upon the civil breast.
Justice not of my own. I heard that every soul
to its city is the proper means to ascend to that
one good, the Agathon. A life of attainment
grants one guardianship, stewards winged over
citizens, but at high costs to cleanse identity
base to wisdom, temperance, and courage serene.
That all men living guided by the rational soul
will like minor gods boldly inspire noble cities afar.
Among them, one takes hold with law and
Philosophy, being their king for sole love of that
wisdom and its unity in soul. It speaks anew,
yes that born redemption by the art of philosophy,
and how its light thirsts for shepherds braver.
Faith reckons all here, and the beliefs and slights
of men in nations crumble this perfection
eternal as the sleep of reason produces monsters,
and all that stays is tapestries of judgement
and the immortal soul broke from chance free, alas.
Archelaus: Most curious. I must inspect this further…
Aristion: Pardons, Archelaus. Gracious for your handiwork,
I could not have conducted such carnage cold;
the Romans will be thanking your cordial invitation.
Your lord, Mithridates, and I have conversed—
We plotted ambitions colourful in our countrymen,
but there is no planning like famine and fear
to wield as weapons stained in stark cannibalism,
coaxing hearts against oppressors bleed real,
and I with Zeus the wolf-god’s potency lord over
this leaderless mob as tyrant extraordinaire!
Merited by Mithridates, the sun king, who swore
it as the seed of his own law aroot in auspice.
Archelaus: Where are your philosophers? Reputations,
I hear that you have one…
Aristion: They are rather dead, or hiding from authority,
and I count myself no longer among them.
Chorus: Hear us with pity forgiving. No mother could
take our hands free, these chains throttle
with dusts foreign, that we are bound loathsome
to this cruelty unknown as Atlas, whored
in pastures that were once graced as home—
We are the proud Greeks, kin to wonders
and the origins of heroic kingdoms renewed,
But as trick, all that is proud becomes slave.
So what befalls our people in just Pontic hands?
Archelaus: This deathtrap will destroy itself, and
I was sent to supervise its whimpering—
but let’s to the matters of conquerors, Perseid.
What orders are we given from homeland?
This news may be our course and will.
Soldier: “I, Mithridates IV as Mithras’ gift incarnate,
who rules in wisdom alone and speaks
the fullest sorcery of my countries tongues
am ungiven to death and its toils lesser.
The awed spirit of my providence wishes that
the world of the Greeks returns home.”
Archelaus: By the gods, I know pure dread thunderous.
War is at our bellies—where lies thought now?
if I ever prayed before, help those wretched souls
that rule not their cities. Ares storms alight.
From the first creation event of Timaeus that heralds a universe (the one and only) into the perceptible in giving a reality, this perfection persists into Plato’s Republic, a world of its own that deals with society and its paradigms in the social creature called humanity and its just longings. And the effort strikes into effect the system of rules, which is the basis and expression for how necessary principles work to govern a network in sustaining an attachment to a world as such—in being both probable and engaging for the explorations of that Greek believer inside that very wellspring of human consciousness. All of this depth operates the boundaries and coding of a worldview in myth, and this one aspect is perhaps most natively familiar to philosophers for its logos-driven characteristics, but a logos freed from bias in embracing integration beyond the merely “rational.” The Republic concerns itself with the rise and fall of an imagined but factual society, and that society cultivates its spiritual qualities with an equally apt mindfulness in attaining and modifying self towards the idea of the good,1The “good” (the Agathon) is the form that generates all and is the ultimate object of knowledge, and self in its presences eternally gains Justice, Usefulness, and Value. “Agathon.”2Plato “Cratylus” 1997, 159, 412c. By the end of Book I of the Republic, the text allows an epistemic invitation towards an allegory. This symbolic layering gives way to a narrative about the soul’s moral development through justice (and ideas of justice leading to consequences as possible paths): a psychic wave where logos is the guide, poesis is the experience, and muthos is the world.3Plato 1997, 997-998, 353e-354a. The strength and height of this society thrives on detachment and taboo, giving into a disciplined life41997, 1014, 375e. that transmutes both the social5Plato 1997, 1035, 398a. and the divine6Plato 1997, 1016, 377e. orders upon this trained ethos to inspire one purpose, the just city. And the Greek worldview that arises as just comes not from any one aspect but that of its unity and pursuit.
The harmony is a very real one that creates justice from a healthy soul. The Platonic model is quite clear on this subject and its hierarchy. The top-heavy, three-part aspect of this soul is first mentioned at the founding of the polis, the city: each part of the soul is said to be an “ally” of the other.7Plato 1997, 1073, 441e. Interestingly, the initial belief that bends more to an egalitarian unity and oneness snaps out of tune upon conflict, charging the rational part to take rule of the others much like a war-time leader.81997, 1188, 580d. And this justification stems from the constructed fact that all other aspects of the soul when uncontrolled lead to illegitimate pleasures.9Plato 1997, 1194, 586e-587a. Yet, this line of reasoning supersedes the sole goal of the Greek act to manifest soul, which in a sense is a mystic unity with the Agathon, forever failing in narrowly treating a non-dualistic reality in terms of a dualistic one. The precedence and motility of this formulation with variance is strong. The evidence is in the correspondences and correlations of the Republic: rational, spirited, appetitive; logos, thymos, pathos; wisdom, courage, temperance; ruler, soldier, producer; and the systems of rules, the ideal for existence, the global picture. The major difference between a mature, actualized soul confirmed in the good and that which is expressed in Plato’s dialogues is the reduction of divisions to completions, which start bravely with the virtues101997, 1060, 428a. and qualities111997, 1110, 486d-e. that act as a scaffold for how to form and keep a government via humanity’s soul aspects. Winning votes go to the party that ends in a consensus-style co-rulership under one being. And with this path to a better government as a herald of pure reconsideration, the harmony is happily re-found in a fresh newness as BOTH reason and poetry preserve virtue, a virtue that pulls the self to the perfection of soul.12Plato 1997, 1161, 549b. Aristotle as well hinted at such mysteries that may lead a Greek believer to transcendence over timeless toil“[f]or the purposes of poetry a convincing impossibility is preferable to an unconvincing possibility,”13Aristotle 1984, 263, 1461b11-12. and “the experience of […that given] impossibility[…,] that its possibility is possible as impossible”14Derrida and Marion 1999, 60. makes universes animate with exceptional and fantastical truths. All of this can be reconfirmed by the two aforementioned forms of Platonic good, which as a practical ideas only reach viability if this Theory of Forms genuinely replaces removedness with ascent as a permanent paradigm shift,15Plato 1997, 1681. to honour all human skills in crafting a multifaceted soul (a World-Soul) that merits substance, resolve, and a final resting place of being.
Would I have a voice, if you would hear it?
Or would I be the rhythm to your reasons?
Would I have a being, if you did not imagine it?
Or would I be a bastard to your brotherhood?
Some have called this perplexed “I” a soul,
A scorching ethical core—living upon centers.
Again some nothing more than saviour
Come to unnecessitate that troubled being.
But given chance, I would seldom cross
All the struggles and beauties of this world—
But persevere it gracefully to sweet triumph.
Hark, a rebel speaks my own words purely:
“If, O King, you destroy me, a law-abiding man who has done no harm to anybody, know that you may easily destroy a wise head, but later you will see what you have done, and you will lament in vain to your heart that you have destroyed so famous a guardian of the city.”
This departure brings into question only the most enigmatic of the Republic and its formulation of the Philosopher King.16Plato 1997, 1100, 473c. For such an obviously crucial role, this figure is rather unexpressed in contrast to the better known Guardians, especially in terms that its heritage and reputation, always superseding its execution—vast in capturing the undivided imagination of all those poets and philosophers that cross this character slated to rule the Greek Kallipolis, the utopian city-state of the Republic. And maybe this figure is necessarily enigmatic given that the achievement of becoming such a state head puts a soul near the very finalizing stages of realizing uncorrupted justice in the world. The Allegory of the Caves in Book VII is at the crux of understanding the inner dimensions of myth and the essence of the Republic functioning as a symbolic microcosm.17Plato 1997, 1132, 514a Inner states that align to understandings are the common threads to these enclosure-motifs. This diversity makes not only the analysis of Plato’s example insightful but also expresses a larger human potentiality towards regained mindfulness. Each set represents a unique response to what lies within the self and its deepest psychology: absurdism and pessimism in Edward Lear’s “Limerick 6” and Samuel Beckett’s Play; enlightenment and continuance with a Buddhist bhikkhuni and the Kogi Elder Brothers in Wade Davis’ Web of Belief and Science of the Mind; and, finally, illusionism with the Allegory of the Caves in Plato’s Republic. This substance that constitutes a source with no other designation than salvation inside these motifs and Plato himself engrossed in a philosopher-king mythos is the very being that arises on that last occasion where the stormy self is born to warm worlds. And with this hand, the soul may finally reorder itself for its reintegration and healing, christened by the Kingdom-Sage who embraces the fullness of humanity as sparked emanations of the World-Soul.
The pressing—even redemptive—motif of the one true soul is at the textual center of the Republic. This moral imperative comes from the meditative act of pure consciousness that is myth, yet surprisingly not as necessarily so from any of the Greek philosophy which simply justifies the granting of transcendence towards myth. Sound indications of this fact become evident within the constant displacement of Plato’s present reality, the physical world, which seems to sublimely disappear in a block of smoke known as the Republic for both the characters living inside the text and those individual readers now connected to a cognitive aesthetic on opposite bends of the mirror, all submerging to a seamless, self-same realm of ideas and consciousness.18Plato 1997, 972, 327a. This fine art and its grammar within Plato’s Republic is a genuinely timeless attempt to move people’s conscious minds by relocating experiences of reality towards the ultimate realization of that one knowledge of the universal Self in us and through others. The importance of interacting with such a sphere is noted cross-culturally in terms of different states and systems of awareness, but a united goal nonetheless exists in unlocking the fields that might grant Justice or the Good, and as such, wise individuals have historically noted the role of this source—ever since its materials have been crafted into consciousness by the will of countless sentient travellers:
[S]ince we can only ever truly experience our perception of that world [the physical world, in contrast to a purely perceptual one], then it would seem that we more truly inhabit a world purely of consciousness and ideas. It strikes me that the landmasses [the mindscapes inside the human cognitive architecture] that might exist in this mind space would be composed entirely of ideas, of concepts. That instead of continents or islands you might have large belief systems or philosophies. [….] Now when you’re talking about the territory of the mind and perhaps the spirit, the only route maps available are magic systems from antiquity. You’re talking about systems [… which utilize] archetypal images that provide the cartography for a map of the human condition.19Mindscape 2003, 01:04:13-01:10:11.
The raw genius of self in terms of the mythogenic flight to an advanced awareness certainly expresses itself here, and it intuitively and keenly comes from what may be considered more of a cultural (rather than academic or philosophical) resource, albeit a very learned one, but this knowledge, or instead these higher epistemic states, presented by Alan Moore comes from his attachment to the long and collective tradition of wisdom, a tradition that starts with localized shamanism as the earliest experiencers of alternative consciousness. And regardless of the coordinates, the delving into and continuance within these vast idea spaces is what all mature narrative accounts like the Republic do in actively transiting from an arbitrary set of symbols to a conscious experience, a myth. At this point, the reader is able to connect to a much vaster idea space (or mindscape) with the ethnosphere, the cultural counterpart to the biosphere, which is “the sum total of all thoughts and dreams, myths, ideas, inspirations, intuitions brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness.”20Davis “Dreams” 2016, par 4 The exercise becomes a facet of Plato’s dialogue, where the layering of both consciousness and dimensions lends visibility to the inter-reality dialogue and the global reality matrix. This in-between awareness gives depth that necessitates human perception towards a singular focusing line (a narrative) that fashions the immensity of worlds and possibilities into a cosmic allegory, which allows a textual sense of layeredness that roughs out maps to new matrixed identities.
Notes [ + ]
|1.||↑||The “good” (the Agathon) is the form that generates all and is the ultimate object of knowledge, and self in its presences eternally gains Justice, Usefulness, and Value.|
|2.||↑||Plato “Cratylus” 1997, 159, 412c.|
|3.||↑||Plato 1997, 997-998, 353e-354a.|
|4.||↑||1997, 1014, 375e.|
|5.||↑||Plato 1997, 1035, 398a.|
|6.||↑||Plato 1997, 1016, 377e.|
|7.||↑||Plato 1997, 1073, 441e.|
|8.||↑||1997, 1188, 580d.|
|9.||↑||Plato 1997, 1194, 586e-587a.|
|10.||↑||1997, 1060, 428a.|
|11.||↑||1997, 1110, 486d-e.|
|12.||↑||Plato 1997, 1161, 549b.|
|13.||↑||Aristotle 1984, 263, 1461b11-12.|
|14.||↑||Derrida and Marion 1999, 60.|
|15.||↑||Plato 1997, 1681.|
|16.||↑||Plato 1997, 1100, 473c.|
|17.||↑||Plato 1997, 1132, 514a|
|18.||↑||Plato 1997, 972, 327a.|
|19.||↑||Mindscape 2003, 01:04:13-01:10:11.|
|20.||↑||Davis “Dreams” 2016, par 4|