Senior Researches Plato’s Dramatic Technique

August 15, 2014

For many undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania, summer research means conducting field work in an exotic locale or running experiments in a laboratory. However, for classics major and University Scholar Donald Antenen it means methodically seeking answers to questions outside the norm of Plato scholarship, a pursuit that requires him to go no further than his well-stocked bookshelf.

Antenen’s work this summer centers on the Symposium, which he describes as “a really beautiful dialogue, and one of Plato’s most widely read.” When reading this dialogue in the past, Antenen noticed “two different instances when Socrates stands silently, thinking or meditating, which is strange, and noted as strange by some of the other characters. It’s never explained what he’s thinking about.”

Ralph Rosen, Rose Family Endowed Term Professor of Classical Studies in Penn Arts and Sciences, says Antenen’s research raises “a really interesting question which, to my knowledge, has never quite been asked in the way that Donald has done and one that will almost certainly yield some new insights not only into Plato’s dramatic technique but also the specific goals of this particular work.”

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