Hos pharmakon chresimon: myth as a ‘rethorical remedy’ within Plato’s Kallipolis

  • Alice Orrù
Keywords: Plato, Myth, Rhetoric, Health, Medicine


The paper aims to investigate the relationship between rhetorical and medical fields in Plato’s dialogues through the lens of myth as a “useful remedy”. For Plato myth is a middle way between truth and lie, as well as health and disease, justice and injustice, good and evil. In this way, it can have both an educational and a therapeutic function in the ideal city only after a “surgical” selection of the typical contents of traditional poetry. Plato also criticizes traditional rhetoric and medicine: while rhetorical persuasion is aimed only at itself, Hippocratic medicine is unqualified to be the highest techne because it deals only with the body and not with the soul, unlike philosophy. The rhetoric-medicine link gets more complicated considering the refoundation of a healthy mythology, as the myth of “noble lie” shows. The noble lie constitutes a necessary political remedy to preserve city health and aims to persuade rulers and citizens (regarded as patients) to have a common ancestry and different tasks to be undertaken within the city. However, in the last century, this complex intersection between rhetoric and medicine gave rise to mystifications and misunderstandings of Plato’s intentions, as Popper and the following debate demonstrates.


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How to Cite
Orrù, A. (2021) “Hos pharmakon chresimon: myth as a ‘rethorical remedy’ within Plato’s Kallipolis”, Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio, 15(1). doi: 10.4396/20210603.