Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Freeing A Friend: Phaedo of Elis, Aulius Gellius II.18.1-5

CONTENT WARNING: human trafficking, slavery

Socrates' circle of friends included people of multiple social classes, including Phaedo.

1 Phaedon Elidensis ex cohorte illa Socratica fuit Socratique et Platoni per fuit familiaris. 2 Eius nomini Plato librum illum divinum de immortalitate animae dedit. 3 Is Phaedon servus fuit forma atque ingenio liberali et, ut quidam scripserunt, a lenone domino puer ad merendum coactus. 4 Eum Cebes Socraticus hortante Socrate emisse dicitur habuisseque in philosophiae disciplinis. 5 Atque is postea philosophus inlustris fuit, sermonesque eius de Socrate admodum elegantes leguntur.  

--Aulius Gellius, Noctes Atticae II.18.1-5

Phaedo of Elis was one of Socrates’ circle, who was close to both Socrates and Plato (Plato even named one of his books after him). Yet Phaedo was a slave, with beauty and a freeborn person’s mind, and as some people allege, was driven to serve as a prostitute. At Socrates’ urging, Cebes (another one in Socrates’ circle) bought him and enrolled him into philosophical training. And thus Phaedo became a famous philosopher, and his books are read even today.



Name:  Aulus Gellius

Date:  2nd. c. CE

Works:  Attic Nights



Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans



 Aulus Gellius lived during the 2nd century CE. His work, the Attic Nights, are a collection of anecdotes about literature, history, and grammar.  From internal evidence, we can deduce that he was in the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ social circle, having close friendships with Herodes Atticus and Fronto.


Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE


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