Eurípidés a Platón: dvě podoby kritiky mýtu o autochtonii
EURIPIDES AND PLATO: TWO DIFFERENT CRITICAL ATTITUDES TO THE MYTH OF AUTOCHTHONY
Languages of publication
The myth of autochthony was one of the key elements of ancient Athenian democratic ideology. Therefore, it is not surprising that two clever critics and observers of Athenian democratic society – Euripides and Plato – paid particular attention to this myth. According to the myth of autochthony, the citizens (or the ancestors of the citizens) were not born of human mothers and fathers but fashioned in the earth. What are the political implications of the myth of autochthony in general? First, it provides the unity of political society and strictly separates citizens from non-citizens. Second, it explains the equal rights of the citizens. Third, it pretends that the boundaries of the cities in the world are dictated by nature itself and not by human contract or agreements. Fourth, it legitimises the exclusion of women from politics – the earth is the only mother of all citizens. Fifth, the myth of autochthony definitely resolves the permanent question: to whom does or did the land belong? In his tragedy Ion, Euripides questions the myth of autochthony and its implications for the foundation of a political society without women (the character of Creusa). He also suggests that Athenian society which thinks of itself as tolerant and open, is, in fact, on the basis of this myth, intolerant and xenophobic (the character of the old Tutor). On the one hand, the myth of autochthony provides order to the city, but on the other hand it closes and limits the possibilities of the city. Plato’s attitude is a little different. In the Republic he obviously acknowledges the value of this myth for the unity and stability of the political society, but he tries to eliminate the egalitarian implications of this noble lie, as Socrates calls it (Rep. 414c). So he introduces his own autochthony myth concerning the three classes of citizens (gold, silver, and iron-copper), thus legitimating a hierarchical political society.
Publication order reference