Armand D’Angour is a Professor of Classics at Oxford University, a musician and the author of several books, including his latest, Socrates in Love.
His research explores a number of themes across ancient Greek culture and he has written poetry in ancient Greek and Latin - he was even commissioned to compose odes in ancient Greek for the 2004 and 2012 Olympic Games.
When you think of the Greek philosopher Socrates, the foundational philosopher of the western world what kind of a man do you imagine? Probably an old, ugly man in a white robe, from humble beginnings who was more of a thinker than a doer.
But what if that image of Socrates is limiting or even wrong? That's the question Armand explores in his book Socrates in Love, where he presents a radically different image of Socrates and his influences, based on neglected parts of core sources from Plato and Xenophon.
In this episode we discuss:
- Armand's revisionist biography of Socrates including an account of the woman who helped him shape his ideas on love
- The value of reviving ancient music and the methods for doing so
- What the Greeks’ attitude to the new can teach us about technology in the modern world
This was a wonderful conversation that will give you fresh insight into the foundations of Western philosophy and the connections between music and the classics.
- Introducing Armand D’Angour [00:36]
- What was Armand’s education like and who are the people who piqued his interest in Greek and Latin? [03:08]
- When did Armand first realise he was particularly good at Latin? [06:03]
- Has the quality of art and literature declined since the age of the internet? [07:24]
- How does Armand feel about the reception of people, especially of the academe, to his book Socrates in Love? [09:28]
- What were some nuances in the earlier parts of Socrates’ narrated life that Socrates in Love tries to address? [10:43]
- Deconstructing Socrates’ famous quote “I know that I know nothing” in contrast to Plato’s recount of Socrates’ experiences with love and sexual relationships [14:37]
- Who was Diotima? What was her relationship to Socrates, as shown by evidence of their interactions in history? [23:01]
- How did Diotima redefine the concept of love? Which event shows the Greeks’ indoctrination of this new definition of love? [27:25]
- What is the concept of daemon/daimonion? What was Socrates’ relationship to his daemon? [31:04]
- How does classical poetry relate to music? What different approach did Armand take to study the relationship between the two? [34:27]
- With Armand’s work gaining national recognition and an emerging public interest, what is in store for our understanding of Greek music and tragedies? [41:39]
- What can the Greeks' attitude to the new teach us about the way we relate to technology in the modern world? [45:47]
- Closing remarks [43:00]
Follow Armand online
- Socrates in Love: The Making of a Philosophere by Armand D’Angour
- The Greeks and the New: Novelty in Ancient Greek Imagination and Experience by Armand D’Angour
- Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology by Adrienne Mayor