Jeremy Bell, Michael Naas (Eds.): Plato’s Animals. Gadflies, Horses, Swans and Other Philosophical Beasts

Georgios TSAGDIS

Plato’s Animals. Gadflies, Horses, Swans, and Other Philosophical Beasts Book Cover Plato’s Animals. Gadflies, Horses, Swans, and Other Philosophical Beasts
Studies in Continental Thought
Jeremy Bell, Michael Naas (Eds.)
Indiana University Press
Cloth $80.00

Reviewed byGeorgios Tsagdis (University of Westminster)

It is a book that had to be written, awaited to be written and was written. And it took the form of a collection of fourteen essays, the sonority of its polyphony matched by a rare combination of erudition and critical creativity. It has thus set a precedent and a measure of how to engage in the present with a thought both ancient and historically diffuse. I strove to avoid summary brushes and ready assessments. Instead, I tried to follow as closely as possible the contours of each essay, in the hope of inducing a first and perhaps a second reading of the essays themselves, for which no supplement will suffice.

 Part I. The Animal of Fable and Myth.

  1. Heidi Northwood, Making Music with Aesop’s Fables in the Phaedo.

 Northwood examines Phaedo, the dialogue that recounts the last hours of Socrates, to draw closer two figures tradition has kept apart. Socrates sets the stage with a musing on the inseparability of pleasure and pain, before wishing that Aesop had composed a fable to portray the divine conjoining of the two warring forces. This gives Cebes occasion to enquire why Socrates has turned to poetry, composing a hymn to Apollo and setting Aesopian myths to metre. The famous Socratic alibi is that recurring dreams induced him to music; despite believing to have done nothing his whole life but compose the highest music through philosophy, he’s decided to obey the literal command of the night. Why however Aesop? Northwood assumes the full significance of the question. The extensive biographical similarities, notwithstanding distinctive differences, would never suffice, if the common understanding of the fables was right. If the latter were mere depictions of a Hobbesian state of nature, of generalized war, Plato would have never put them in the mouth of Socrates (16-17). One must read again. The essay does this closely, within and beyond Phaedo, picking the countless threads that weave together Plato and Aesop. What she recovers is the shared principle of an ordered cosmos, within which all is set into bounds, not arbitrarily through sheer violence, but in a justified, just way (21). Plato inherits at once Aesop and his rough contemporary, Anaximander. Moreover, next to the what and the why of the world, Aesop and Plato share a vision of the how of enquiry. It is possible to trace Socratic epagoge (induction by analogy) and elenchus to Aesop. In the fables the reader is not offered a ready code, but made to assume an inalienable epistemological and ethical responsibility (21-3). There is thus something paradigmatic in what Socrates decides to set to music, the harmony of notes, as an exception to his higher music, the philosophic harmony of ideas (19-20). This harmony of harmonies is the Aesopian act of Plato that conjoins, like pleasure and pain, the warring forces of mythos and logos.

  1. David Farrell Krell, “Talk to the Animals”: On the Myth of Cronos in the Statesman.

 In inimitable style Krell lays out a pattern of constitutive associations across life and governance, across the whole spectrum of zoopolitics. Accordingly, the essay arranges itself like an ellipse around two textual foci of the Statesman: the myth of Cronos and the subsequent dialectical search for the ideal ruler. What the latter painstakingly tries to decide is the political middle, the human mean between divine logos and bestial physis, between virtue and depravity, presence and negation (35). The myth complicates the search, invoking questions that will remain open, along with an ultimate answer that will destabilize the political middle. Before our anthropological time, the Age of Zeus, when man was abandoned without divine protection and guidance – discounting the vital aid of Prometheus and Hephaestus (33) – the Age of Cronos saw the best of days for all creation. These days were backwards: the arrow of entropy was reversed, the second law of thermodynamics revised. The humans and animals that had died in the previous anthropological era would rise again from the earth, grow younger, all along discussing philosophy, free from the shackles of their species and the shackles of violence, before gradually diminishing into inexistence (30). At the end of this age, their seeds would remain dormant in the earth to initiate a new anthropological, forward time. Thus the cosmos, which having a body could not remain at eternal rest, would assume the best Platonic motion, that of a cycle. Krell presses on what lies beyond this cycle, the first origin, a primary disorder that the Age of Cronos set into its backward harmony and the Age of Zeus transformed into a forward corruption. About this Age of Chaos little can be said. Equally little is to be said about the transitive moment when humanity would no longer be born from the soil of mother earth, but from a human womb. This enquiry is tied, along with all of its political implications, to the mythic account of reincarnations related in the Timaeus; in all its intricacy it will remain suspended. Instead, by means of a double confession, Krell will rather intimate: what if, in our anthropological age, we can still hearken in the language of animals something of the Age of Cronos?

 Part II. Socrates as muōps and narkē.

  1. Michael Naas, American Gadfly: Plato and the Problem of Metaphor.

Naas undertakes a certain essai, a certain trial of a double etymology. Muōps and gadfly, classical Greek and American English—for centuries in every translation of Plato the latter renders the former, a word occurring only once in the corpus, bearing a singular weight. The attempt of this double lexical exercise is then to show how the translation of the defining metaphor of the Apology, of Socrates as a gadfly, is both uniquely apt and therefore, in its excessive fidelity, misleading. The manifold etymology and polysemy of muōps, opens the possibility of shortsightedness (myopia), but also of the familiar fly and of the horse goad, a spur perhaps (46). Naas vindicates Socratic vision, turning instead to the Greek synonym for a gadfly, oistros, and to the kentron, the spear or sting—both more current in Plato. This semantic family designates the incitement of material and sexual desire leading to a blind and deaf frenzy, the very malady Socrates tries to cure (50). The same family however refers also to the ways and instruments used to drive slaves and animals (48). Significantly, of the two horses of the soul in the Phaedrus, the good one will resist the kentron of desire, while the bad won’t obey the kentron of its charioteer (50). For Naas, this double potential of the sting allows Socrates to exercise his familiar irony, debasing himself to a fly while declaring himself a godsend, farsighted horseman. This irony constructs a position that in American English will dominate the meaning of the word. Gadfly becomes accordingly a dead metaphor, referring not so much to an animal species, as to those rare cases of the political animal, provocateurs rather than criminals, who expose the crimes of power. Herein lies also the danger, of hearing nothing except the political in the gadfly. For Naas, Socrates is the archetype, the Platonic form of the gadfly, and that must mean also an ethical and metaphysical provocateur of truth, a significance silenced in the English. Notwithstanding the danger, if “the notion of a gadfly-provocateur seems to fit our image of Socrates to a T” (54), it might be less because Socrates offered the metaphysical form of the notion, but because, as Vlastos would argue about Socratic irony, Plato made historically the word change forever.

  1. Thomas Thorp, Till Human Voices Wake Us and We Drown: The Aporia-fish in the Meno.

In Thorp’s essay Derrida, the vanishing point of this collection’s lines of flight, meets Kant on the way to Plato. This transforms the “originary act of repetition” of this “pause, or hiccup, if you will,” which is nothing but our paralysis in the face of the wonder of the world, into the sublime condition of possibility of encountering appearances as more than appearances, precisely as something, as the eidos that therefore they are (70). This originary repetition appears in the guise of narkē, the fish which Guthrie, among many, translates into the stingray, but which with Jowett and Lamb we must identify as the torpedo ray. The distinction is not a finer taxonomic detail, but the very difference of proximity and distance. While the stingray benumbs in defense through its venomous touch, the torpedo attacks by electrifying the water, stirring the question of the medium and the controversy over the possibility of actio in distans (61). For Thorp the Greek (narkē) and the Latin (torpedo) name not the animal but rather designate its effect, whereby being-as-presence withdraws, the medium being altered and thus coming to the fore (62). Accordingly, Socrates as torpedo produces a torpor in which assumed knowledge recedes for the sake of aporia, which opens the possibility of truth. This truth is never arrested in the permanence of Forms; rather the Forms represent the incessant question of what a being is (63), the each time unique enactment of Being (64) that determines beings as the beings that they are. This is the distant recollection with which Socrates the torpedo confronts the proximal memory of Meno the stingray (73). It offers at once the possibility of virtue, the end of philosophical desire, the desire to touch the truth, to truly touch, by not touching, by relinquishing touch. “Space and time are warped in order to reassure [this] touch” (74), while the infinite possibilities opened by the philosophical desire of distance pronounce an infinite danger.

Part III. The Socratic Animal as Truth-Teller and Provocateur

  1. S. Montgomery Ewegen, We the Bird-Catchers: Receiving the Truth in the Phaedo and the Apology.

Ewegen chooses an uncommon direction: from Phaedo to the Apology, reversing their dramatic succession (79) in order to examine the relationship of logos to itself and to its divine beyond. In his last days in prison, Socrates reinterprets his old dreams, forever compelling him to music. He, who thought his whole life to have composed the highest music, philosophy, interprets now anew, differently (80). He heeds Apollo without reserve, following his command in metre. But he will also offer an interpretation of the song of those other servants of Apollo, the swans. Humans project their own fear of death upon their joyous song, their purest expression of elation before encountering the divine. The swans, like Socrates, are joyful—not only now, but always, essentially (82). Always in touch with the God, possessed by him, they possess a prophetic vision (mantikē). Like the prophets of Phaedrus and the poets of Ion, they are in contact with something more important than foresight, truth. While the former, like winged Cassandras, sing the truth without being understood, the latter sing the truth without themselves understanding it. They, the seers and poets, are messengers of messages they cannot decipher (83). Thus their songs, like the song of the swans, require interpretation. As the Laws will ultimately decide, the risk of allowing the seers and poets to interpret the truth they bear is too great. Plato will require that they, whom Greek tradition saw as the interpreters of the gods, be reinterpreted. This, already in the Phaedo, is the meaning of philosophy, the highest music. But here Socrates will interpret himself backwards, allow the god to speak through him. Ewegen rediscovers the poetic next to the philosophic Socrates in the Apology. At the bar, Socrates will at once reinterpret the Delphic oracle against the facile assumptions of Chaerephon (85-6), but also follow the orders of Apollo, offering an apo-logy, in which he is beside (apo) himself (90), recasting order and reason in his akosmos and alogos logos that leads to prophecy (89). Socrates remains throughout the Apology in touch with the divine, calling us to examine the lie of our ready interpretations and the truth we possess despite ourselves, calling us to reinterpret the dialogues in joy.

  1. H. Peter Steeves, The Dog on the Fly.

In his maverick essay Steeves champions Diogenes the dog against Socrates the fly—or rather against Plato the human, the aristocrat, the author. The essay opens by reducing the significance of the Platonic corpus to less than a trifle of contingency. We read it because it’s there (96), as though condition and cause were identical, as though the stage of contingency were less than a prison, a coffin perhaps, too narrow for heads to turn the other way. For Steeves, the whim of fate has placed Diogenes at the margins, despite him being there, just like Socrates, whom Plato chose to follow and set centre-stage. Steeves accuses Socrates of complicity with the dictatorship of the Thirty Tyrants, because he was there during the thirteen months of their reign (103), yet re-places him closer to Diogenes, much closer than Plato would have ever wanted (104). In his reading, Socrates becomes the ‘domesticated beast’ (108) of the reactionary Plato, who uses the radicalism of the latter, complicit and anti-democratic as it might have – already – been, for his authoritarian agenda. Socrates becomes thus in the hands of Plato, against the latter’s intentions, the animal without writing, the animal that reduces others to silence: it is himself rather than Thrasymachus who turns out to be the wolf that steals human voice in the Republic (100). Again and again, the bestial Socrates turns against his master, ultimately showing himself to be not Theseus, but the Minotaur slain by a heroic city of Athens (109). The animality of Socrates proves recalcitrant to the Platonic design, regressing to its canine kinship with Diogenes. Should historic contingency have chosen another path, we might have all lived the life of the dog. Will an act of writing manage to mend at long last the inexplicable vagary, redeem our prelapsarian scriptless existence?

Part IV. The Political Animal.

  1. Jeremy Bell, Taming Horses and Desires: Plato’s Politics of Care.

Bell returns to the gadfly of the Meno, to probe the other side of the simile, the great, lethargic horse of the polis, that Socrates spurs and unsettles (115-6). Socrates is however not only a gadfly—he is also the goad: the horse-trainer of the Apology and the charioteer of the Phaedrus (119, 125). In all of these functions Socrates exercises care. Bell makes care (epimeleia) the articulating word of Platonic psycho-politics, a word silenced by the pervasive resounding of justice, knowledge, symmetry and harmony, governance and certainly of the Platonic project of taming. Bell attempts to show how, in the shadow of these familiar moments, care operates all the more effectively; it is the horse he chooses to follow. The horse, like the human, is tame by nature yet in need of the supplement of training and education, of law and ultimately reason, in order recover its nature (116, 120). Taming becomes thus the becoming-nature of nature. This is the Socratic gesture and the function of the ideal city. It amounts to an awakening from slumber, the sibling of death (118). For Bell, it amounts to autonomy, as an ‘exercise of freedom’ (126). While however care might educate desire, keeping thus in check psycho-political tyranny, this “liberation of the citizenry for the sake of their own self-governance” (126), is far from absolute: self-governance is ultimately a more efficient form of governance and always for the sake of the whole. Platonic care is less an act of unconditional ministration, than the administration of diligent vigilance, the universal command of the Good.

  1. Christopher P. Long, Who Let the Dogs Out? Tracking the Philosophical Life among the Wolves and Dogs of the Republic.

With the precision and faithfulness of a hound Long attempts to trace the scent of the wolves and the dogs of the Republic. Although smell is an absent word in the dialogue Long discovers between its lines a rich array of odours (132). His scent takes its cue from Santayana, who makes Democritus in his Dialogues in Limbo claim that “a philosophy can be smelt,” should one possess the nose of a hound (132). There is indeed an etymological connection between the Greek nous and the Sanskrit nãsã, the root of the English nose; its significance hinges on the ability to distinguish. Long will explore in this ability the potential of demarcating a community of dogs (Polemarchus, Glaucon) against the threat of lupine foes (Thrasymachus), which will itself constitute nothing less than the education of the guardians, a metaphor of rearing and training running conspicuously deep. When education is reduced to conditioning and the family to eugenics something is certainly foul (139). Interestingly however it is here that the nose loses its track. For it is not enough for those among the guardians who will become kings, to be able to distinguish. They will wish to know the whole and this they must, lest they forever remain puppies, able only to tear the argument apart (139, 141). They, the philosophers among the guardians, will thus leave behind the senses in dialectic flight: the nose becomes nous, guiding the community and philosophy beyond being.

Part V. The (En)gendered Animal.

  1. Marina McCoy, The City of Sows and Sexual Differentiation in the Republic.

McCoy examines the famous retort of Glaucon to the first Socratic attempt at constructing an ideal city, his exclamation that this is but a city of pigs, or a city of sows, as McCoy will translate throughout. Three principle elements interweave her examination: i. The ritual and socio-political significance of the pig in the celebration of Thesmophoria, a commemoration by the city’s women of Hades’s abduction of Persephone or Korē, literally daughter, of Demeter, the mother of earth. ii. The meaning of hus, or pig (which can actually refer to both male and female as well as tame and wild swine) and which in ancient Greek everyday slang as well as in extant literature, serves in its various forms (delphax, hus and choiros) as an innuendo on female genitalia (151). iii. Drawing on the interrelation of the two grounding moments, a recasting of the meaning of Glaucon’s resistance to the city of sows. This does not originate in the fear of relinquishing luxury (after all what luxury do the guardians possess? 157), but in the desire of the male, spirited part of the soul, the part that constitutes actual, historical politics, striving for honour and glory, against the cyclical life of women, a life of the body, of simple community and religion, without elaborate art and science, without hierarchy and without war. Accordingly, the city of sows appears as one were men are reduced to the existence of women, while the counter-paradigm of the inflamed Kallipolis, appears as a city were women are elevated to the status of men, participating in the same education, in politics and war. In both cases, the antinomy of the necessity to eliminate sexual difference on the one hand, against the necessity of eros to sustain the city, on the other, is shown in exemplary manner (157). Even if the Socratic practice of questioning is politically unproductive and thus liminally feminine in its cyclical orality (155), are we to place Plato between the two cities (158), at the tension between the reduction and the elevation of the other, always other, sex? Before answering, we might need to interrogate anew, with McCoy, the gendering of the soul, as well as logos as the ultimate pscyho-political moment.

  1. Sara Brill, Animality and Sexual Difference in the Timaeus.

Her invocation of Nietzsche is not fortuitous; Brill’s essay on the Timaeus philosophizes with a hammer, sounding out the quasi-eternal idols of the dialogue to determine whether they are hollow. The diagnosis is disconcerting: “in its treatment of the ‘race of women’ as somehow distinct from that of men, its assumption that the male is the more quintessentially human, and its alignment of the female with other animals, Timaeus’s cosmogony” appears hardly more philosophical than Hesiod’s Pandora tale (170). Philosophical means here strictly dialectical, which implicates precisely the act of sounding out—testing, circumscribing and proofing the hypotheses, upon which thought proceeds. The attempt to produce an onto-cosmogony that is at once zoo-anthropological, both as the object as well as the method of the enquiry (171), without engaging with the political presuppositions of this enquiry, is bound to remain shroud in the violent mystification of myth. It is because politics is left for another day, a day never to come, that this account (logos), is condemned to remain merely likely (eikōs), an idol of truth. It is impossible to follow here the intricate movement of the essay, as it delineates the function of motion in the production of the cosmos from the celestial to the animal. Being, becoming and the chōra have their respective motions (165), which result in three ‘laws’ or estrangements of the human – from its origin, from its unity and from its own nature (166). It is the latter that makes possible the distinction of superiority and inferiority, male and female, female and animal. Accordingly, as soon as the plurality of human souls emerges, it does so as gendered. The first human is masculine and it is the failure of that masculinity that will produce women (and one should think also men), as well as, in turn, animality. Gender engenders sexual difference and then the difference of the species (168). This logic of generation is complicated twice over: on the one hand, vis-à-vis the genderless eternity of the souls and of the life of the cosmos, which abides without the need of generation (169); on the other, with regard to creative activity of the paternal demiurge and the creating passivity of the maternal chōra (170), which re-places sexual difference at the beginning. And yet, perhaps, at the end of the Timaeus, we are not even at the beginning.

Part VI. The Philosophical Animal.

  1. Holly Moore, Animal Sacrifice in Plato’s Later Methodology.

The art and knowledge of dissection, in the double genitive, is the theme of Moore’s essay. Plato, in both the Statesman and the Phaedrus, presents dialectic as an act of division, an act of cutting: not arbitrary, but according to the natural joints. The Phaedrus constitutes logos itself as an animal. Like an animal it must be well articulated, with a body, limps and a head, lest it be a monstrosity, such as the speech of Lysias (180). Moreover, logos must be animated, it must possess the kind of life that will make speech superior to writing (181). This logos will dissect, while being itself dissected. But in order to do either, it must establish its unity first. Dialectic is thus in the first instance the ability to collect phenomena into a singular idea (181). It is this ability for unity that defines the human, and preeminently the philosophical, as opposed to the animal soul. Thus, the divided animal must be dissected. Moore pays close attention to the inextricable unity of butchering and sacrificing and their significance in ancient Greece, while drawing on the master carver of the Zhuang-zi (183-4). The demand of minimal resistance throughout the practice is revealing. On the one hand, the one who cuts, by discovering the space between the joints, renders merely visible an already existing division, while on the other, the ritual necessitates docile, domesticated animals. Dialectic, like the sacrificial practice, undertakes the production of both: a unity that is ready – always already – for division and a unity that is domesticated, a unity of the idea, for us, rather than in itself (187). Is Plato bound to such a constructivist correlationism? Moore’s strategy is twofold: on the one hand to make late Plato a dogmatist, unable to doubt the intellect’s (immediate) intuition of forms (190). On the other to shift the role of dialectic from collection and division to a third: the questioning of the relationship of the intuition of these forms to our representation in thought (190). Notwithstanding Plato’s alleged dogmatism however, how can intuition, the unity of which is constructed by and for us, as long as we are captive within its dialectic correlation, fail to validate our representations as ipso facto congruent? Would it be possible that the gods could offer the sacrificial lamb, which will be in turn offered back to them? This is the guiding question, the intuition of Platonism.

  1. Drew A. Hyland, The Animals That Therefore We Were? Aristophanes’s Double-Creatures and the Question of Origins. 

Hyland revisits the speech of Aristophanes in the Symposium to examine the relation of desire and eros, of humanity to the animal and the monstrous. The trajectory of the essay is set against the Derridean challenge of a demarcation in the history of philosophy between the reasoning human and its homogenous other, the mute, unthinking animal. Hyland’s is meant as a contribution to the vindication of Plato’s project as a question, precisely the question of the animal (193, 205). The speech of Aristophanes is seen as the comico-tragic depiction of the human lot, where bestial desire reigns unchecked, eclipsing all beauty (202). Wishing to show eros as the very essence of human nature, as the force that tries in vain to recover is originary wholeness, Aristophanes reinscribes the ancestral desire that once challenged the gods in an act of hubris, into our present desire to reconstitute our shattered existence. In both cases the force of this force is lack (197-199). Socrates through Diotima will sublate this narrative, making lack or poverty the maternal origin of Eros (Penia), while insisting on its paternal pedigree of resourcefulness and plenty (Poros), a trait earlier praised with rare eloquence in the speech of Agathon. Accordingly, the Socratic speech represents a dialectic synthesis of Agathon and Aristotphanes (199-200). To the elated encomium of the former it offers a reality of pain, to the piety of fear and trembling of the latter, the emancipated hope of transcendence (204). For Socrates, aside of the bestial desire that knows no reason, a desire that we can never altogether abandon, logos wings eros to lead us beyond. Aside however of the ramifications for Platonic psychology regarding the proper place of eros vis-à-vis Aristophanic desire, what remains questionable is how this Aufhebung that Socrates offers through Diotima might become anew a question. Aristophanes will always be vested in the dialogue, like the animal in us. Yet, how is this duplicity of our nature, a duplicity foreign to the animal that knows only desire, a question?

Part VII. Animals and the Afterlife.

  1. Claudia Baracchi, Animals and Angels: The Myth of Life as a Whole in Republic 10.

Beginning like Baracchi’s essay at the end, opening with its last word: community. Baracchi examines the Republic’s closing myth of Er, in order to ex-pose the community of life. The elegance and nuance with which her vitalist reading challenges the millennial indoctrination in Platonic idealism, precludes any ready assumptions—it was no act of violent over-exegesis that led later Neoplatonism to recover the centrality of life in Platonic thought. Psychē often means in the Greek no more and no less than life; justice, as question of the soul, is indubitably a question of life (210). Accordingly, the myth of Er, a myth of the transmigration of souls, depicts the transmigration of life as the perennial articulation of justice. Two tensions account for the phenomenon: on the one hand, the circle of life that seems to ebb and flow, alternating between animal and human forms, a metabolism that even though it is neither merely mechanistic nor psychological, but deeply ethical, seems to retain a certain equilibrium (214). The eternal exile of the souls, their being always-elsewhere, without transcendental guidance aside of their own choices (214), follows at large a pattern of circularity in which a frictionless, lighthearted life induces one to a false reincarnation, while a life of suffering and labour, a life-long confrontation with injustice is the highest propaedeutic for the right choice of the life to come (219). This alternation of good and base lives is however confronted by the possibility of sedimentation, of the creation of traces, marks and inscriptions, a memory of this and other past lives (211, 218), which guides the choice at hand. Accordingly, the argument, just like the souls, seems to move in a vicious one-and-a-half circle: between wave-like cycles of reincarnation and a linear history of traces. The second tension, that follows from the first is the individuality of soul and thus of life. Certainly it is a dispossessed individuality, scattered across countless past and future forms (222). And yet it is discrete: the demiurge produces a plurality of singular souls, each one of which will manifest a community of life, within the greater cosmic and hyper-cosmic community of life, which would later be called hypostatic. The permeation of these two communities, of these two double tensions, is the vital psycho-political justice.

  1. Francisco J. Gonzalez, Of Beasts and Heroes, The Promiscuity of Humans and Animals in the Myth of Er.

In the final essay of the collection, Gonzalez offers a second reading of the myth of Er, shifting the emphasis to the nature of human and animal souls in order to test the historic hermeneutic attempts to segregate the community of the two. The breathtaking breadth of the essay assumes the Procline account of the myth, before returning to the Plotinian theory of transmigration, then leaping forward to Ficino’s positioning vis-à-vis Plotinus and Proclus, finally turning to contemporary readings, principal among which, that of Luc Brisson. Gonzalez undertakes thus to show the resistance of the myth to Platonist exegesis (225), in order to set into relief the myth’s tragicomic tone. Only the barest of outlines is possible here. Proclus is seen to maintain an absolute distinction of human and animal souls, the former inhabiting the latter in a merely external way. For Gonzanlez Proclus has little textual ground to support his moralism (229-232). Plotinus’s position appears more faithful both to the letter and intention of Plato’s narrative: the soul possesses all logoi, being the same for humans and animals. In its coming to inhabit an animal it merely manifests an animal logos. Still, for Gonzalez even this position confines the animal to a radical inferiority (235). Ficino’s is a new perspective: here the myth is read ‘metaphorically’. The insurmountable Procline prerogative of the human over the animal soul is retained, by turning all animals into mere tropes of traits already within us (237). Like Ficino, modern thinkers will rarely seek in the myth an ontology, but they will draw from its metaphor diametrically opposing conclusions. Accordingly, for Brisson the myth testifies to the community of humanity and animality, the latter appearing indeed, like us (239). Instead, Gonzalez, in a Derridean gesture, suggests that the myth as tragicomedy primarily shows the ways in which we are like the animals: since like them we choose our future lives, not according to reason, but according to habit, “we need comedy to remind us of both our comic foolishness and our tragic limits” (241). The essay remains open, calling attention to every encounter, to every reading of the myth. We are compelled to read again—perhaps, the best place to start our second sail is Brill’s account of the generation of women and animals in the Timaeus.