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Winter 2019 Contemporary Civilization Mini-Core: Plato the Rhetorician

"The School of Athens" by Raphael

Plato the Rhetorician | Professor Kathy Eden, Chavkin Family Professor of English and Professor of Classics

In the Republic, Socrates famously exiles the poets from his ideal city—a move that has not kept readers throughout the centuries from identifying Plato as the most poetic of philosophers. In a number of dialogues, Socrates registers even greater disdain for orators and rhetoricians. And yet, Cicero, considered in many quarters the greatest public speaker of all time, reserved this accolade for Plato, calling him summus orator (On the Ideal Orator, 1.47).

Concentrating on three of Plato’s dialogues that aggressively condemn rhetoric while skillfully deploying its strategies, this course will both explore how these rhetorical strategies shape the arguments presented and assess the merits of Socrates’ objections to them.

Kathy Eden has taught at Columbia since 1980 and is a former Chair of Contemporary Civilization. She has been awarded the Mark Van Doren Award, the Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching and the Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates. She is also the author of several books.



Wednesday, January 30 | Plato, Apology, trans. Grube (Hackett)
Wednesday, February 13 | Plato, Gorgias, trans. Tom Griffith (Cambridge)
Wednesday, February 27 | Plato, Phaedrus, trans. Nehamas (Hackett)

6:30 - 8:30 p.m.


Tickets: $160 for three evenings
($100 for Young Alumni in class years 2009-2018)


To be confirmed upon registration


Questions? Contact Us

Registration opens about five weeks prior to the start of class. Have questions about the course or registration?

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