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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

A History of Greek Philosophy / PLATO


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The last of these may be regarded as marking a transition to a second series, which are concerned with the trial and death of Socrates. The Euthyphro opens with an allusion by Socrates to his approaching trial, and in the Apology we have a Platonic version of Socrates’ speech in his own defence; in Crito we have the story of his noble self-abnegation and civic obedience after his condemnation; in Phaedo we have his last conversation with his friends on the subject of Immortality, and the story of his death.

Another series of the dialogues may be formed of those, more or less satirical, in which the ideas and methods of the Sophists are criticised: Protagoras, in which Socrates suggests that all virtues are essentially one; Euthydemus, in which the assumption and ‘airs’ of some of the Sophists are made fun of; Cratylus, Of the sophistic use of words; Gorgias, Of the True and the False, the truly Good and the truly Evil; Hippias, Of Voluntary and Involuntary Sin; Alcibiades, Of Self-Knowledge; Menexenus, a (possibly ironical) set oration after the manner of the Sophists, in praise of Athens.

The whole of this third series are characterised by humour, dramatic interest, variety of personal type among the speakers, keenness rather than depth of philosophic insight. There are many suggestions of profounder thoughts, afterwards worked out more fully; but on the whole these dialogues rather stimulate thought than satisfy it; the great poet-thinker is still playing with his tools.

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Cf.  Plato Complete Works, Plato Home Page & Anthology, Guthrie : Life of Plato and philosophical influences, Research a KeyWord in Plato's Works

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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

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