Love, friendship and images : citizenship and necessity in Thucydides and Plato
By Rachel Templer
PhD Dissertation, Georgetown University, 2008
Abstract: “Love, Friendship and Images: Citizenship and Necessity in Thucydides and Plato” concerns the exploration by Thucydides in his History and Plato in the Republic and Symposium of the problem of political motion in the forms of war and civil disturbance as well as technological, intellectual and generational change. In particular it addresses the use of political imaginaries to address political motion. Thucydides’ speakers invoke a range of images of philia (friendship) to call for political cohesion and unity in the face of the centrifugal forces of war and civil conflict (stasis). Plato continues this theme in the Republic but also subjects it to an exploration of aesthetic response and representation that suggests the relation of images to the human psychological and ontological condition. In the Symposium Plato explores a politicaly dangerous form of imagery through the character of Alcibiades who seeks to deploy images for the sake of political domination. It is the philosopher’s self-conscious deployment of comparative imaginaries that constitutes the appropriate understanding of political imagination.