Making Sense of δήλωμα

Mariapaola Bergomi, Plato's Cratylus
2017 Akropolis   unpublished
In this paper I aim to discuss the notion of δήλωμα which can be found for the first time in the extant Greek literature in Plato, Cratylus 423 b, by analysing the philosophical argument of bodily imitation and language. I aim to show that this portion of text in particular contains extraordinary original material which has no parallel in other Platonic works. I shall also discuss the notion of δήλωμα in critical relation to μίμημα and σημεῖον, with reference to the Cratylus, the Sophist and
more » ... the Sophist and other philosophical works posterior to Plato, such as Aristotle's De Interpretatione and Epicurus' Letter to Herodotus. The aim of the present paper is to discuss the notion of δήλωμα and some closely related technical terms that Plato uses for the first time in relation to linguistic cor-rectness. I believe the notions of δήλωμα and μίμημα to be crucial for the difference Plato intended to stress, though not explicitly, between a naturalistic and a conven-tionalist theory of correctness. Despite the fact that the noun appears a few times in the dialogue, I believe it to be very relevant also in relation to further philosophical developments of the notions of signification and meaning, as Aristotle and the Hellenistic schools show. I will start by taking a close look at the arguments contained in the third section of the dialogue and I will then move on to the Sophist, the Laws and other works posterior to Plato. At Cratylus 421 a, Socrates and Hermogenes have finally come to the conclusion of what is usually referred to as the etymological inquiry; after having explained the etymological origin of the opposite notions of ἑκούσιον and ἀναγκαῖον, Socrates answers Hermogenes' question about those names that are τὰ μέγιστα καὶ τὰ κάλλιστα, viz. truth (ἀλήθεια), falsity (ψεῦδος), being (ὄν) and name, ὄνομα, the object of the present inquiry. Since Socrates analyses all these names with reference to the concepts of movement and flux, as he usually does in the last part of the ety-mological section devoted to moral qualities and faults, Hermogenes expresses his desire to know the origin of these elementary names which seem to characterise