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Ambiguities in Kreitton logos?

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image of Mnemosyne

In the Agon of Aristophanes' Clouds, Pheidippides has to choose Kreitton logos or Hetton logos in order to get the proper education at Socrates' thinking-shop. Kreitton logos's account is a praise of old-time education. He praises courage, endurance and hard work but at the same time his account is full of sexual remarks. In an influential discussion, Dover found a paradox at the heart of Kreitton logos's account: "Kreitton logos is obsessed with boys' genitals", according to Dover. In this article, I shall argue that in the context of archaic and classical Greece desire is compatible with temperance, and, accordingly, that the message of the speaker is not undermined by the copious references to sex. Using evidence from the orators, as well as philosophical texts, I argue that the call for temperance is not subverted by the lurid details, and that Kreitton logos's account can be seen as a call for modesty and self-control. I also question the approach to characterization in comedy underlying interpretations which see Kreitton logos's account as subverted by the dramatist.


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