American Political Science Review
Plato's Menexenus is overlooked, perhaps because of the difficulty of gauging its irony. In it, Socrates recites a funeral oration he says he learned from Aspasia, describing events that occurred after the deaths of both Socrates and Pericles' mistress. But the dialogue's ironic complexity is one reason it is a central part of Plato's political philosophy. In both style and substance, Menexenus rejects the heroic account of Athenian democracy proposed by Thucydides' Pericles, separating Athenian citizenship from the quest for immortal glory; its picture of the relationship of philosopher to polis illustrates Plato's conception of the true politikos in the Statesman. In both dialogues, philosophic response to politics is neither direct rule nor apolitical withdrawal. Menexenus presents a Socrates who influences politics indirectly, by recasting Athenian history and thus transforming the terms in which its political alternatives are conceived.
© 1993 by the American Political Science Association. Available on publisher's site at http://www.jstor.org/stable/2938961.
Salkever, Stephen G. "Socrates' Aspasian Oration: The Play of Philosophy and Politics in Plato's Menexenus." American Political Science Review 87 (1993): 133-143.