Does Socrates ascend to the goddess?

On my chapter on “the Crito; on reading and Socrates’s agency” here, I received two wonderful letters from LuAnn Glatzmeier for whom the archetype of Athena, the struggle of women in Athens, and Socrates and Plato are alive…


Dear Professor Gilbert,

Wow – this is a Masterpiece.  What Justice you do to Socrates!! 

My sense is Socrates was alive in a time of debauchery.  He had to deny Eros because the existing violation of what Eros truly was  – was being abused and used as an excuse to behave in immorality during Socrates’ time.  All the gods were lost to the “Golden Age of Greece”.  Yet he maintains Athena’s original archetypal tenets for justice in his solidity regarding true justice.  Eros is within the heart of Socrates as well as his mind that will not compromise himself.  “This is where I have lived.  This is where I have served.  This is where I love…  I am not running to an obscure place when the laws herein are being violated in their truest sense. 

Sophistry had to be identified as the manipulation that is is.  He would not manipulate the variables, but made them starkly clear.  He died for that clarity.  When the gods of Greece were not distorted as they had become by his lifetime, Athene would have served as the perfect administrator of the kind of Justice that Socrates seeks.  But to resort to those earlier archetypes as reference points to truth and proof of his innocence in Socrates’ time would not have served him, and would have obscured his message.  It is fortunate that Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi were able to inject the heart directly and from directly the core of their message.

I am so grateful that someone with your sense of social justice examines this important topic/s. 

Many Thanks for all your hard work – LuAnn Glatzmaier, Ph.D


Dear LuAnn

    Thank you very much for a wonderful response which sees much of the spirit of Socrates in Athena as a goddess of justice..  I will write something about this.  How just are most founders (Gandhi in India perhaps; Mao in China?). Does one recover them through questioning?
       Athena was, in her earlier archetype, an underworld, snake goddess who was part of a matriarchal, non-warlike regime.  The Athenian patriarchal founding also imprisoned – bound – women.  Socrates’ questioning perhaps led to the spirit of justice (being for the laws as decent more deeply; it may perhaps have deviated more deeply from/ reshaped more deeply images of the gods.  Eros, in the Symposium, resembles Socrates.  The democratic laws of Athens, in the Crito, lose Athena…
       Put differently, Socrates’s questioning is a form of midwifery – of deeper understandings, “ideas” to the extent which one can get them, in Plato.  But both were sexists.  In a deeper sense, Socrates was not on to discovering the depths of what had been buried in the emergence of patriarchal Athens, or its moral and political (comparatively speaking) attractiveness.  The matriarchal regime is what Engels and Marx later called original communism.  Socrates could have questioned back towards it, but it seems a bridge too far…

He did, of course, touch two times on a city of Pythagoreans, of philosophers of whom Theanna was one in the Republic.  See here.

And Athens, in part achieving “beautiful freedom” (Hegel) and incarnate in Alcibiades, was both freedom and leadership and beauty, and debauchery, and inner struggle about it.

And Socrates, in the Crito, looked to the far future…

      All the best,


Dear Alan,

So true, So true.   We had to bring the western reason into the situation, and luckily with Athena, although distorted, still managed to stay stronger than the other deities.   As you point to those incredible characteristics of Athena.  I like very much how I was taught that she was daughter of Metis, whose provence was “gut knowledge” yet her birth sprung from the head of Zeus – who was so proud of her and her intelligence.  Her owl consort brings Metis in again, showing that this is not an Eagle, as with Zeus – this is a trickster creature who hunts in the night through hearing.  So rich there.  The gut knowledge and intuitive within Athena together with her father’s Justice and she, being a Virgin goddess was able to stay clear of being tainted, whereas Zeus’ exploits dimmed his reputation for Justice, while hers maintained impenetrable.  Athens named after her because they wanted to assure that they would “never be penetrated by the enemy” and given that they were constantly fighting the Spartans or whomever, that pretty much was the case.  My favorite aspect of her is that she casts a deciding vote in a tie on behalf of the accused, the mercy vote, just as we honor Lincoln’s words “I have always felt that mercy bears greater truth than Justice…”  Sometimes these archetypes are right in our midst and we become used to them, thankfully, our Statue of Liberty – Athena incarnate in our core premise.  In Greece, the gods may have become frivolous, but not Athena.  They may have quit honoring her history and totality, but they didn’t imagine her romping around unjustly as did so many of their once sacred divinities.  As Apollo strayed from his chthonic roots, he lost his identity, his wholeness, and became a vain, tragic figure.

In my heart I know that Plato and Socrates preserved ancient Greece so that we could have a trace throughout history, or a foundation, a living one, of what was recognizable as the constancy of Truth.  Socrates recognized and honored his muse – the woman in him – regardless of the sexuality he may have had.  He was informed by his muse.  He honored the feminine as much as possible in his day, it was in his core as a philosopher.  Most importantly, he left a legacy within which the very notion of equality or recognition for women could emerge. Women were not a lot of things in Socrates’ day – they did not have the right to vote, they were used for breeding and not regarded as the eros partner, it was definitely a terrible time for them.  But all we do not know is what they were up to in order to persevere through time.   The Virgin Goddesses – Hestia for the home altars and vigilantly feeding the hearth so that humanity can continue, Artemis – with her defense of animals and the lesbian dimension of the divine feminine and Athena, exemplar of one who could slay her shadow, the evil snaked headed gorgon that represented a distortion of the chthonic.  She accomplishes this with the help of Perseus, and expert “shot” through the mirror.  We all have to slay our gorgon, and we all need help with it.  But we have to do it.  So not  was not only was she virginally intact – she was whole.  The owl speaks to the nooks and crannies of Justice –  the shadow and light aspects of the whole, the unseen and “real” causes of the injustice, and Athena’s awareness as you so beautifully put, of a deep chthonic connection to Truth.  I think of our revolution in the 60’s.  Whatever the people may think looking back as a promiscuous time, I think of the revolution of truth that arose as being deeply rooted in the chthonic – the deep act itself.  Jung would have been proud, as it is his contention that without the chthonic there is just half a person – a miserable and suffering person.  Humankind cannot be whole without the chthonic dimension firmly rooted.  That such an instinctual partnering has given way to the truth, that love is naturally loyal, I saw in the 60’s as well, and the idea of partnering and maintaining an enduring idea of devotion to one another has thankfully stayed – the worthy goal that it is.
How delightful is this all.  Thank you for your wonderful response.  These things are so rich, it is a Sunday Morning gift !!  (They say the exclamation point is passe’ to use in writing at this time, but I will never forsake it.)
It is wonderful you are in dialogue with these gentlemen, it is like playing a musical instrument, the chords and notes of which align the bodily functions, let alone the joy of the heart and mind.   There is so much they left unsaid, and you are their voice of continuation in taking your time for this.  When we talk about having a “voice” we can’t forget our friends who still want to speak from another platform!!  We are still the revolutionaries, and we acknowledge that we have “miles to go before we sleep…”
Thank you again,
LuAnn Glatzmaier – MA Religious Studies, Ph.D Human Communication Studies,  from DU   —  Camaraderie at DU !!