The 2nd century AD sophist Publius Aelius Aristides quotes from the Alicibiades at length, preserving for us the largest surviving chunk of Aeschines’ written work. Just before World War I, Arthur Hunt recovered from Oxyrhynchus a papyrus (#1608) containing a long, fragmentary passage from this dialogue that had been lost since ancient times. In the dialogue, Socrates converses with a young, ambitious Alcibiades about Themistocles and argues that Alcibiades is unprepared for a career in politics since he has failed to „care for himself” in such a way as to avoid thinking that he knows more than what he actually knows on matters of the most importance. Socrates seems to argue for the view that success is directly proportional to knowledge (though knowledge may not be sufficient for complete success), as opposed to being dependent merely on fortune or divine dispensation, independent of knowledge. Socrates’ arguments cause the usually cocky Alcibiades to weep in shame and despair—a result also attested to by Plato in the Symposium. Socrates claims that it is only through loving Alcibiades that he can improve him (by cultivating in him a desire to pursue knowledge?), since Socrates has no knowledge of his own to teach.
Oxyrhynchus (/ɒksɪˈrɪŋkəs/; Greek: Ὀξύρρυγχος Oxýrrhynkhos; „sharp-nosed”; ancient Egyptian Pr-Medjed; Coptic Pemdje; modern Egyptian Arabic El Bahnasa) is a city in Middle Egypt, located about 160 km south-southwest of Cairo, in the governorate of Al Minya. It is also an archaeological site, considered one of the most important ever discovered. For the past century, the area around Oxyrhynchus has been continually excavated, yielding an enormous collection of papyrus texts dating from the time of the Ptolemaic and Roman periods of Egyptian history. Among the texts discovered at Oxyrhynchus are plays of Menander, fragments from the Gospel of Thomas, and fragments from Euclid’s Elements.