Friday, November 7, 2008

Letter to Klein November 27, 1939

Sunday, 22 July 2007 1:34 A GMT

Letter 76 To Klein

449 W. 123rd St., NY City


Dear Friend!

Why don’t we hear from you? I ask you, don’t leave this letter unanswered, but rather hasten to reply. Agitur de duabus tribus. Primo de pecunia. I very much urge you to lend me $40 from December 1 to Decebmer 15. I know of nobody else in the USA, or on the entire planet, or in the entire universe, who I could ask, and I am entirely broke by the 12th. You will receive the money back in your hands on the 16th.

Secundo de tractinuculo. Send it back immediately, if possible, with your critical remarks. I am not going to publish it, but I would like to have your judgment in hand when I write the letter to Baron. I have also begun writing a new article on the same theme – te non effugit me de philosophia a historia literanda scriptitare: On the study of classical political philosophy, in which I will show that Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon were not historians – “of course not” – but were authors of exoteric, protreptic writings (protreptikoi eis philous). History was for them the narration of meta tauta, meta tauta ad infinitum, and was nothing serious. Instead, their historical writings were precisely the stories for children that Plato recommended in the third book of the Republic: prose writings, in which the metaxu twn resewn, (ie, the portrayal of erga) outweighs the reseis (ie, the logoi, the speeches, which are inserted in the history) – whereas the tragedians not only don’t write in prose, but are exclusively logoi. (The Platonic dialogs, in which the author entirely hides, belong according to Plato to another level). I will show this in concreto with regard to Xenophon’s Education of Cyrus, which is an entire book of sublime irony: what Socrates is, is displayed through the caricature of Cyrus. Only through the medium of this caricature does Xenophon show the true, hidden Socrates, while in the Memorabilia he shows the phaneros Socrates. (His version of Socrates is also not fundamentally different from that of Plato). Hws silenti eipein – the Eduation of Cyrus is a very unbarbaric portrayal of the ugliness of barbarism, ie the lack of paideia, and therefore a very “elevated” (eukaristotatos) protreptikos to paideia. That is so!

Warm greetings in my and Miriam's name,


Leo Strauss

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