The Apple: Or, Aristotle's Death

The Apple: Or, Aristotle's Death

The Apple: Or, Aristotle's Death

The Apple: Or, Aristotle's Death

Excerpt

Nearly all modern scholars who know of The Apple point out its resemblance to the Phaedo, a resemblance which is obvious even from a casual reading of the work. Thus, Leopold Dukes, in a work on Ibn Gabirol, remarks that it imitates the Phaedo in being a death-bed discussion on immortality, but with Aristotle replacing Socrates as the main speaker. Raymond Klibansky simply states the fact of the resemblance, without elaborating on it. Jörg Kraemer saw evidence of some influence of Plato's Phaedo in the discussion of suicide which appears in all the known versions of The Apple. Contrary to Kraemer's suggestion that this influence was remote and indirect, however, perhaps through the writings of Clement of Alexandria and Theodoret, internal evidence seems to indicate a closer and more immediate influence. In fact, it seems plausible to conclude that the author of the Arabic-Persian version had Plato's dialogue before him and with deliberate selectivity modelled his own work upon it. The story of the doctrinal development of this little work, then, must begin with a comparison between it and its Platonic exemplar. This resemblance is quite close in the Arabic version, which we shall examine first; it is diminished in the Hebrew-Latin.

The dialogue form, the death-bed setting, and the two disciples named Simmias and Kriton are the most obvious points of resemblance. Even the names of disciples which differ from those in the Phaedo are all Greek: Zeno, Stephanus, Kramas, Pindar, Eletus (or perhaps Theaetetus), Diogenes, and Lysias. The apple which gives our dialogue its title enters in by an ingenious adaptation of one of the incidents of the Phaedo: there Socrates, warned that conversation will generate body-heat that will interfere with the lethal drug that he is to take later in the day, dismisses the warning with the statement that the executioner can prepare a stronger dose. I shall give both the Stephanus numbers and numbers of Hackforth's pages. In The Apple (A-P) Aristotle, too, is warned against talking lest the resultant body-heat interfere with a healing drug that has already been administered to him. He, too, dis-

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