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October 31, 2011

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Theparsley.wordpress.com

It's not a "non-statue" or an "uncompleted" statue: it's a Herm, a very common sculptural form in ancient Greece. They depicted Hermes, and commonly consisted of a plain shaft with a head and a...er, shaft. A search of Google Images will turn up plenty of examples.

http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/herm/g/040510Herm.htm

John F. Ptak

Thanks for that correction! I had no idea, obviously, that this was the final form of the statue, and it does of course change the reading of the post--but I think I'll leave this alone for now and change the whole thing to accommodate the correct info later.

Theparsley.wordpress.com

This image of Plato as a headless Herm may be a reference to the infamous "Herm-breaking" of 415 B.C.E., when sacred Herm figures throughout Athens (people had them at their home entrances as protective guardian figures) were smashed and desecrated by parties unknown on the eve of the Athenian expedition to Sicily.

The controversy over this terrible impiety lasted for years, and reverberated all the way to the death of Socrates and beyond.

It would be interesting to know if there is any other text in the book surrounding the image of the headless Plato-Herm; perhaps the implication is that Plato's work or legacy has been desecrated in a manner analogous to the herm-breaking (but by whom?)

I also found this, about an extant sculpture of Plato as a Herm:

http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2003/04/09_plato.shtml

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