Andre Archie

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 1-1-2003


Worldwide Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Ronald Polansky

Committee Member

Tom Rockmore

Committee Member

Leslie Rubin




The aim of this dissertation is to situate our reading of the Platonic dialogue Alcibiades Major among both ancient and modern readings of the dialogue. Since the nineteenth century the issue of authenticity has preoccupied most modern commentators of the dialogue, but from all reasonable evidence, commentators from the ancient world had no such qualms about attributing the authorship of Alcibiades Major to Plato. Our reading of Alcibiades Major is in line with modern commentators who take both the dialogue's dramatic features and educative value seriously, while not ignoring that in some quarters Alcibiades Major's authorship is still in dispute.

Our treatment of Alcibiades Major differs from the attention given to it by past and present commentators, because it is our desire to see the ideas--expressed in the dialogue with such enthusiasm by Socrates and Alcibiades--entertained in a number of different contexts. For this reason we have titled the dissertation Socratic Encounters: Plato's Alcibiades, with each chapter designed to facilitate a kind of cross-fertilization of ideas from a variety of intellectual perspectives. Looking at the dialogue from various perspectives has allowed us to cast some new light on the dialogue from which other commentators may benefit.

The objective of the dissertation to highlight Alcibiades Major's timeless insights and enduring relevance to contemporary issues, has led us on a course that revolves around pedagogy. The Platonic dialogues are gold-mines of insight, but knowing this to be the case does not answer the fundamental question: 'What did Plato intend to teach us by writing Alcibiades Major?' The dissertation goes to great lengths to provide answers to the question, and the answers it provides take unusual approaches. For example, Plato invites us to consider five issues in Alcibiades Major: appropriate listening, priorities, tradition, hypothetical questions, and women's role in male achievement. The dialogue is not limited to these five issues, but the dialogue cannot be seriously dealt with without considering them.