In The Symposium, Alcibiades suggests that Socrates is akin to a ‘Silenus statue’:1 there is an absolute disjunction between the philosopher’s foolish appearance in the world – his notorious ugliness, his incessant infatuations with beautiful young men, and his poverty – and the ‘moderation’, ‘strength’ and ‘beauty’2 of his innermost thoughts, which ‘despised all things for which other mortals run their races’ (CWE, 34, p. 263). These statues, observes Erasmus in his famous adage ‘Sileni Alcibiades’ (1515), were commonly carved in the shape of Bacchus’s tutor, Silenus: ‘the court buffoon of the gods of poetry’ (CWE, 34, p. 264); they were ‘small figure[s] of carved wood, so made that they could be divided and opened. […] When they were closed they looked like a caricature of a hideous flute-player, when opened they suddenly displayed a deity’ (CWE, 34, p. 262).