NABOKV-L post 0006076, Thu, 19 Jul 2001 17:05:03 -0700

restraining Socrates and egging on Joan of Arc in Speak, Memory
I am rereading SPEAK, MEMORY. AT the begining of Chapter II, VN
discusses, inter alia, his "mild hallucinations." Speaking of their lack
of profitability, he goes on to say "The fatidic accents that
restrained Socrates or egged on Joaneta Darc have degenerated with me to
the level....." ALthough I have often read this passage, today I
suddenly stopped to wonder about "that restrained Socrates." The
"egged on" Joan of Arc is clear enough. She famously heard voices that
prompted her to her valorous deeds. But Socrates? And why "restrained"?
Consulting my trusty Britannica, I learned that Socrates is said to have
heard a voice from childhood on that would enjoin him NOT to do certain
things--often of no great moment. The notable thing is that the advice
was never positive, only negative.
HENCE...VN's "restrained Socrates" nicely counterbalances Joan's
positive advisory.

I then discovered that the Luxemburg-Ilyin's annotations to the
SYMPOSIUM Russian edition neatly clarified the passage. One of the many
virtues of this collected edition.