Plato's conflicted thoughts on inter-generational relations are packed into the potent metaphor of the father figure in the Republic, Timaeus, Euthyphro and Symposium. Common to these stories is Plato's appreciation for the immense power of fathers to instill respect for traditional values in the subsequent generation, and the simultaneous observation that such values are accepted automatically during a period in which the soul is most impressionable, with no demand made for the reasons they are important. Values acquired in such a way are lost just as easily, and in fact come to pave the way for the corruption of the individual soul.
key words: Plato, Republic, Symposium, Euthyphro, fathers, patriarchy, inter-generational conflict, inheritance, Cephalus, father of the logos, patricide
- presented* at the Annual Meeting of the Ancient Philosophy Society - New School for Social Research, April 2008
- Jacob Cooper Prize in Ancient Philosophy, Yale University*
* refers to an earlier version, entitled "The Inheritance of Evil: The Figure of the Father in Book VIII of the Republic"