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CERTAIN ASPECTS OF PLATO'S STYLE
By ALBERT E. TROMBLY
T has been said that the philosopher was a broken-down poet, and however much or little truth the assertion may contain, the fact remains that Plato, if not a brokendown poet, was at least a man who had forsaken poetry for philosophy. We know little about his poetry for none of it has come down to us, but it seems certain that in 405 B. C. at the feast of the Lenaea, his play "The Cleophon" received third prize. It may be that the youth was ill-satisfied with his poetical attempts for from this time on he devotes himself to philosophy. Perhaps too that he had been drawn to philosophy by the voice of Socrates for as we know he became his disciple and followed him until the master's death in 399.
I say that Plato had abandoned poetry, and yet as his dialogues attest his poetic genius never forsook him; and as has been pointed out by commentators he proved his own doctrine in the Symposium and the Phaedo that the genius of tragedy is the same as the genius of comedy and that the writer of the one form of drama should be master of the other form as well.
The element of Plato's writings most obviously dramatic is perhaps their pictorial settings. The Protagoras affords us two striking examples of it. In the first Hippocrates comes early in the morning to the house of Socrates, gives a tremendous thump at the door, and on being admitted bawls out: "Socrates are you awake or asleep?" "At the same time," says Socrates, "he felt for the truckle-bed and sat down at my feet." Hippocrates has come that Socrates may take him to Protagoras. After some discussion they set out, and we pass to the second
great scene. They arrive at the house of Callias, where Protagoras is staying. There they find him walking about the court followed by a troop of admirers which divides itself into two parts to allow him to pass when he turns, and then wheels and closes again in perfect order. Hippias sits on a chair of state in the opposite portico discoursing with his followers. Prodicus is still abed wrapped in sheepskins and bed-clothes, and by him sit his pupils listening to him speak, while his fine deep voice makes an echo in the room.
Not less strikingly picturesque is the closing scene of the Symposium where Aristodemus, the narrator of the dialogue awakens in the morning to find that the banquet has proven too much for most of the company. All are sleeping except Socrates, Agathon, and Aristophanes who are discussing the genius of tragedy and comedy. Soon both Agathon and the comic poet drop off to sleep, while Socrates, apparently as fresh as he had been the night before, gets up from the table and departs.
Yet, however effective such scenes may be, they are surpassed, I think, in dramatic power by the touches of verisimilitude that everywhere abound; such, I mean, as where in the Lysis Hippothales is spoken of as "murdering our sleep with the cry of 'Lysis.
In the Protagoras, a satisfying sense of reality is felt when Socrates begins his narration with: "Last night, or rather early this morning." The same dialogue gives us what seemed to me one of the most effective bits of verisimilitude in Plato. Socrates dissatisfied with the manner of Protagoras is about to leave. "Thus I spoke," he
says, "and was rising from my seat, when Callias seized me by the hand, and in his left hand caught hold of this old cloak of mine."
'Tis by means of just such materials that Plato has made his dialogues so readable, so living. His skilful and subtle use of verisimilitude makes for a sense of reality and truth to life at the same time simple and irresistibly convincing.
Much has been said and written of
Plato's irony, and it may be that its importance has been exaggerated. Yet I think Plato profoundly ironical, and believe that if we possessed a more intimate knowledge of the Athens of his
time we might find in him a great satirist. Out of sympathy as he was with much that prevailed: the religious traditions, the politics, the philosophical tendencies, he could not but reflect it in his writings; and it may be that the reflection is far deeper and broader than we of another age and civilization even suspect.
Citation may serve to indicate the more obvious phase of Plato's irony; yet his writings contain far more of it than can thus be shown, for it is often so subtle as to defy precise analysis yet distinct enough to make itself felt as an atmosphere or an undertone.
By WALTER M. PRATT
HE Hon. James McLachlin, of California, in 1911 spoke in Congress on the Unpreparedness of the United States to defend itself against foreign invasion. In this speech he called a spade a spade, and brought out many startling facts. It fell upon unsympathetic and unbelieving ears, and after scarce mention by the press was forgotten.
The great European war and the predicament of unprepared Belgium has set our thinking people to investigating, and then to talking. The sleepers are waking; the germ of preparedness has been spreading like a grippe epidemic. Preparedness organizations have formed, and committees are organizing in every city, town and hamlet.
The coming summer our business men will attend summer military camps by the tens of thousands. Harvard has instituted a course in Military Science and organized a regiment of Infantry. Yale is forming a full battalion of field artillery. The public is interested and demands the truth. Our Army and Navy officers have been
ordered not to talk publicly, but such men as Congressmen Gardner, Theodore Roosevelt, Joseph H. Choate, Hudson Maxiin and many others are, by magazine articles and speeches placing the facts before the public. In spite of the demands, there is at present no indication that Congress intends to do anything other than be a trifle more liberal than in former years in Naval and Military appropriations.
This will not meet our present national needs, or I hope the popular demands. It is our solemn duty to continue the discussions of our Unpreparedness, and redouble efforts to bring to our representatives' attention the absolute necessity for prompt and broad action. We are practically undefended; we cannot back our national policies. Students of military science both here and abroad state this fact; our army officers and our war college admit its truth. I am no alarmist; I have simply spent more time on the subject than some others.
The American people as a whole have for years been misinformed on the subject of national defense. Paci
fists have made them believe falsely. The ostrich hides its head in the sand and imagines itself safe; the American people theoretically are doing the same thing. The only possible way in which we can continue at peace with other nations is to develop our strength in order that we may defend our rights.
A few alert and patriotic souls realize our defenseless condition. They are preaching preparedness to every ear that will listen. They have taken upon themselves the almost Herculean task of awakening the country to a knowledge of our lack of men and ships. They have the facts to prove their case. A navy that has descended from second to fourth place, a mobile army of less than 60,000 men, mostly untrained and unequipped-these are the whole defenses of this great country.
They are scattered in the Philippine Islands, Alaska, Porto Rico and the Isthmus of Panama, leaving this country with scarcely more than 15,000 men less than one divison.
We have practically the same army today with over 100,000,000 people that we had when we were an agricultural nation of 3,000,000, 125 years ago. We are like the man who built a hut in the wilderness which was large enough for his use as a camp. Roads were built and the place became populated. He married and had a family, but refused to increase the size of his house and argued that it it was large enough for him as a pioneer, it was large enough under the new conditions.
No sane military student wants to turn this country into a military camp, but every man with common sense will agree that at least we ought to have on our first firing line as many men as the little country of Switzerland. Switzerland, whose national defense only costs her $8,000,000 a year, was able to put 800,000 trained troops in the field inside of three weeks to defend her country against invasion when the present war started.
What we need is our navy brought back to second place where Mr. Roosevelt left it, and our regular army increased to 250,000, or relatively to the United States as the New York police force is relatively to the City of New York. Surely this is not militarism.
Our annual appropriation is $100,000,000. Where does this money go, you ask? It is wasted in keeping up expensive and useless army posts, scattered out over the country. These posts were necessary in the early days of our country when the Indians had to be contended with. But today. they are useless, yet are maintained for political reasons. Our army is spending its time in caring for these useless and inexpensieve posts instead of being trained as soldiers. It is scattered about the country, rarely more than one battalion at a post. There are majors who have never seen their battalions assembled, up to a very recent date, if at all; colonels who have never had an opportunity to drill a regiment; generals who do not know the experience of maneuvering a brigade.
How can these men become efficient with no opportunity to drill their commands? Our country is rich, prosperous and populous and with an abundance of military resources but military resources are not military strength. Military strength is in organization and the proper use of our At present we are holding ourselves open to foreign invasion whenever great power cares to attack
Belgium was one of the richest and most prosperous countries in Europe, but this is a forceful illustration of how resources are not military strength. If Belgium had had 400,000 regular and reserved troops instead of 45,000 the German army would not have marched through her country, laying waste and death over her cities and towns.
With the great masses of people who never have time or the inclination to