Frame Scenes in Plato’s Philosophical Drama and the Case of Asclepius’ Cock (Phaedo 118a7–8)



In Plato, the ‘philosophical drama’ is often foiled by introductory frames. Besides two introductory frames, the Phaedo contains a concluding frame depicting Socrates’ death. Whereas the first introductory frame serves to suggest that what follows is an actual report of the philosopher’s teaching during the last day of his life, both the second frame and the concluding frame function to present Socrates’ ‘human drama.’ Therefore, Socrates’ enigmatic last words — a request to sacrifice a cock to Asclepius — must be read as operating in the context of a quasi-realistic representation. The dying Socrates, and all surrounding him with whom he explored the questions of the immortality of the soul and the true philosopher’s attitude toward death, owe a sacrifice to the god, whose φάρμακον granted him a painless death and thus permitted a suitable epilogue to the conclusions reached during the ‘philosophical drama.’