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Perictione in Colophon

  • Roger Scruton

The following extract comes from a recently discovered Xanthippic dialogue, which tells the story of Archeanassa's return to her native Colophon. Archeanassa travelled, it appears, as the emissary of Plato, who had instructed her to recover the manuscripts of the poet Antimachus, ostensibly for the library of the Academy, but in all probability to take revenge on the poet by burning his literary remains. (See Phryne's Symposium, 1176a, for an account of the distressing relationship between these three people.) The dialogue exists only in fragments: some concern Archeanassa's adventures on the journey, others describe the city of Colophon, now a Persian administrative centre, its Greek culture extinguished, its temples in ruins, and its streets darkened by high-rise buildings. The inhabitants visit the town either for work, or for the girls who dance in the night-clubs. One such girl is Perictione, grand-daughter of the great Perictione, whose talent as a dancer would have been famous throughout Hellas, had not her son Plato done his utmost to conceal it. How Perictione the younger came to Colophon the dialogue does not tell, although it seems that she lived well and independently, was a leading member of the Greek community, and retained the interest in philosophy which had been awakened at Phryne's symposium.

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1 Thales.

2 Xenophon, Kunergetika. Although Xenophon implies this, he never explicitly says it. A much later, post-Xanthippic, philosopher tells us that ‘all time wot is not spent in' unting is wasted time’ (Jorrocks, as reported by R. S. Surtees in Handley Cross).

3 Xanthippe may be referring to the choirs of young girls, for whom Saphho wrote many songs, and which formed little domestic clubs suffused by a quasi-erotic tenderness. See Calame, Claude, Les Choeurs de jeunes filles en Grèce archaïque, 2 vols. (Rome, 1977).

4 The experience is recounted by the elder Perictione, in Perictione’s Parmenides, contained in Xanthippic Dialogues, ed. Scruton, Roger (London, 1993).

5 Pythian Odes, no. 1.

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Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements
  • ISSN: 1358-2461
  • EISSN: 1755-3555
  • URL: /core/journals/royal-institute-of-philosophy-supplements
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