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Cleombrotus of Ambracia: interpretations of a suicide from Callimachus to Agathias*

  • G. D. Williams (a1)

At Phaedo 59b Echecrates asks Phaedo who was present on the day when Socrates drank the hemlock in prison. Various Athenians are named (59b 6–10), then various foreigners (59c 1–2), but when Echecrates subsequently asks if two other foreigners, Aristippus and Cleombrotus, were present, Phaedo replies that they were said to be in Aegina (59c 4). After this fleeting reference to Cleombrotus, Plato does not mention him again in the Phaedo or any other dialogue; and yet in later antiquity a certain Cleombrotus of Ambracia rose to fame in connection with the Phaedo. Callimachus is our earliest source for the anecdote which immortalized the Ambracian (A.P. 7.471):

Εἴπας ‘Ἥλιε ϰαῖρε’ Κλεμβρτος ὡμβρακιώτης

ἅλατ' φ' ὑΨηλο τεϰεος εἰς Ἀδην,

ἴζιον οὐδν ἰδὼν θαντου κακν, λλ Πλτωνος

ἕν τ περ Ψυϰς γρμμ' ναλεζμενος.

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G. W. Most , ‘A cock for Asclepius’, CQ 43 (1993), 96111

P. W. van der Horst , ‘A pagan Platonist and a Christian Platonist on suicide’, Vigiliae Christianae 25 (1971), 282–8

J. Clark Murray , ‘An ancient pessimist’, The Philosophical Review 2 (1893), 2434

Conversing after sunset: a Callimachean echo in Ovid's exile poetry’, CQ 41 [1991], 169–77)

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The Classical Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0009-8388
  • EISSN: 1471-6844
  • URL: /core/journals/classical-quarterly
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