(Beiträge zur Altertumskunde 341) Gabriele Cornelli - Plato’s Styles and Characters Between Literature and Philosophy-Walter de Gruyter (2016)
participants in the pair. The exorbitant level of hegemony of Socrates yields a
much more favorable reception from the audience of one of the participants in
the pair. The excess of the figure of Socrates, shown in his dominance in
speeches and in his recurrent action of seeking recourse by degrading Ion,
links the reception of this piece to a type of solidarity among the audience
Excesses respond to excesses: the change that Plato brings forth in the ar-
chetype of the comic pair results in correlated changes to the piece: if its com-
position changes, its reception changes. The dialogue of the Ion is organized
in an exaggerated asymmetry that projects a diminutive space for one figure
and an exponentially greater space of importance for the other. Such imbalance
produces a reduction of solidarity between Ion and Socrates and, proportionally,
reduces the attachment between the audience and the figure of Socrates. Thus,
that which Socrates attributes to Ion reinforces and confirms that which the au-
dience agrees is true of Socrates.
The manipulation of the archetype of the comic pair by Plato in the dialogue
of the Ion ultimately removes the figure of Socrates from that of Ion and reinfor-
ces the complicity between Socrates and the audience (in this case, the Platonic
circle). In light of this, Ion becomes the target of satire. The degradation of Ion
reinforces the attachment and solidarity between Socrates and the audience.
As such, it is necessary to dedicate time to dissect the character of Ion, to
parse his actions.⁶
For a counterpoint, see the discussion in Mota 2011 regarding the Pythagorean community
and the formation of its horizon of expectations.
Comic Dramaturgy in Plato: Observations from the Ion
Consequently, the satiric procedure performed here shows dual facets: the
degradation of the observational target is linked to its knowledge. Satire ambiv-
alently depends on the game of proximity and on the distance between audi-
ence, satirist, and observational target.