Main Plato Complete Works
Plato Complete WorksPlato, John M. Cooper, D. S. Hutchinson
Outstanding translations by leading contemporary scholars -- many commissioned especially for this volume -- are presented here in the first single edition to include the entire surviving corpus of works attributed to Plato in antiquity. In his introductory essay, John Cooper explains the presentation of these works, discusses questions concerning the chronology of their composition, comments on the dialogue form in which Plato wrote, and offers guidance on approaching the reading and study of Plato's works. Also included are concise introductions to each translation, meticulous annotation designed to serve both scholar and general reader, and a comprehensive index. This handsome volume offers fine paper and a high-quality Smyth-sewn cloth binding in a sturdy elegant edition.
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PLATO COMPLETE WORKS E DITED BY JOHN M. COOPER A S S O C I AT E E D I T O R D. S. H UTCHINSON PLATO COMPLETE WORKS PLATO COMPLETE WORKS Edited, with Introduction and Notes, by JOHN M. COOPER Associate Editor D. S. HUTCHINSON HACKETT PUBLISHING COMPANY Indianapolis/Cambridge Copyright © 1997 by Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America 14 13 12 11 8 9 10 11 For further information, please address Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. P. O. Box 44937 Indianapolis, Indiana 46244-0937 www.hackettpublishing.com Jacket design by Chris Hammill Paul Text design by Dan Kirklin Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Plato. [Works. English. 1997] Complete works/Plato; edited, with introduction and notes, by John M. Cooper; associate editor, D. S. Hutchinson. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-87220-349-2 (cloth: alk. paper) 1. Philosophy, Ancient. 2. Socrates. I. Cooper, John M. (John Madison). II. Hutchinson, D. S. III. Title. B358.C3 1997 184—dc21 96-53280 CIP ISBN-13: 978-0-87220-349-5 (cloth) Adobe PDF e-book ISBN: 978-1-60384-670-7 CONTENTS Introduction vii Editorial Notes Acknowledgments xxvii xxix Euthyphro Apology G.M.A. Grube G.M.A. Grube 1 17 Crito Phaedo G.M.A. Grube G.M.A. Grube 37 49 Cratylus Theaetetus C.D.C. Reeve M. J. Levett, rev. Myles Burnyeat 101 157 Sophist Statesman Nicholas P. White C. J. Rowe 235 294 Parmenides Philebus Mary Louise Gill and Paul Ryan Dorothea Frede 359 398 Symposium Phaedrus Alcibiades† Second Alcibiades* Hipparchus* Rival Lovers* Theages* Charmides Laches Lysis Alexander Nehamas and Paul Woodruff Alexander Nehamas and Paul Woodruff D. S. Hutchinson Anthony Kenny Nicholas D. Smith Jeffrey Mitscherling Nicholas D. Smith Rosamond Kent Sprague Rosamond Kent Sprague Stanley Lombardo 457 506 557 596 609 618 627 639 664 687 Euthydemus Rosamond Kent Sprague 708 Protagoras Stanley Lombardo and Karen Bell 746 v vi Contents Gorgias Donald J. Zeyl 791 Meno Greater Hippias† G.M.A. Grube Paul Woodruff 870 898 Lesser Hippias Ion Nicholas D. Smith Paul Woodruff 922 937 Menexenus Clitophon† Republic Paul Ryan Francisco J. Gonzalez G.M.A. Grube, rev. C.D.C. Reeve 950 965 971 Timaeus Critias Minos* Laws Epinomis* Letters‡ Donald J. Zeyl Diskin Clay Malcolm Schofield Trevor J. Saunders Richard D. McKirahan, Jr. Glenn R. Morrow 1224 1292 1307 1318 1617 1634 Definitions* On Justice* On Virtue* Demodocus* D. S. Hutchinson Andrew S. Becker Mark Reuter Jonathan Barnes 1677 1687 1694 1699 Sisyphus* Halcyon* Eryxias* Axiochus* Epigrams‡ David Gallop Brad Inwood Mark Joyal Jackson P. Hershbell J. M. Edmonds, rev. John M. Cooper 1707 1714 1718 1734 1742 Index 1747 Names listed are those of the translators. *It is generally agreed by scholars that Plato is not the author of this work. †It is not generally agreed by scholars whether Plato is the author of this work. ‡As to Plato’s authorship of the individual Letters and Epigrams, consult the respective introductory notes. INTRODUCTION Since they were written nearly twenty-four hundred years ago, Plato’s dialogues have found readers in every generation. Indeed, in the major centers of Greek intellectual culture, beginning in the first and second centuries of our era, Plato’s works gradually became the central texts for the study and practice of philosophy altogether: in later antiquity, a time when Greek philosophy was struggling to maintain itself against Christianity and other eastern ‘wisdoms’, Platonist philosophy was philosophy itself. Even after Christianity triumphed in the Roman Empire, Platonism continued as the dominant philosophy in the Greek-speaking eastern Mediterranean. As late as the fifteenth century, in the last years of the Byzantine empire, the example of George Gemistos Plethon shows how strong this traditional concentration on Plato could be among philosophically educated Greeks.1 When Plethon, the leading Byzantine scholar and philosopher of the time, accompanied the Byzantine Emperor to Ferrara and Florence in 1438–39 for the unsuccessful Council of Union between the Catholic and Orthodox churches, he created a sensation among Italian humanists with his elevation of Plato as the first of philosophers—above the Latin scholastics’ hero, Aristotle. Plato’s works had been unavailable for study in the Latin west for close to a millennium, except for an incomplete Latin translation of Timaeus,2 but from the fifteenth century onwards, through the revived knowledge of Greek and from translations into Latin and then into the major modern European languages, Plato’s dialogues resumed their central place in European culture as a whole. They have held it without interruption ever since. In presenting this new edition of Plato’s dialogues in English translation, we hope to help readers of the twenty-first century carry this tradition forward. In this introduction I explain our presentation of these works (Section I), discuss questions concerning the chronology of their composition (II), comment on the dialogue form in which Plato wrote (III), offer some advice on how to approach the reading and study of his works (IV), 1. ‘Plethon’ is a pseudonym George Gemistos adopted toward the end of his life—in Greek it has essentially the same meaning as ‘Gemistos’ itself does—apparently to mark, by its resemblance to Plato’s own name, his authoritative sponsorship of Platonist doctrines. See George Gemistos Plethon: The Last of the Hellenes, by C. M. Woodhouse (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986); for the change of name, see pp. 186–88. 2. Translations of Phaedo and Meno, made in Sicily, were also available from about 1160. vii viii Introduction and describe the principles on which the translations in the volume have been prepared (V). But first, a few basic facts about Plato’s life and career. Plato, a native Athenian, was born in 427 B.C. and died at the age of eighty-one in 347.3 He belonged, on both his mother’s and father’s side, to old and distinguished aristocratic families. At some point in his late teens or early twenties (we do not know when or under what circumstances), he began to frequent the circle around Socrates, the Athenian philosopher who appears as the central character in so many of his dialogues and whose trial and death he was to present so eloquently in his Apology and his Phaedo. In the dozen years or so following Socrates’ death in 399, Plato, then nearly thirty years old, may have spent considerable time away from Athens, for example, in Greek-inhabited southern Italy, where he seems to have met philosophers and scientists belonging to the indigenous “Pythagorean” philosophical school, some of whose ideas were taken up in several of his own dialogues, most notably, perhaps, in the Phaedo. In about 388 he visited Syracuse, in Sicily—the first of three visits to the court of the “tyrants” Dionysius I and II during his thirty-odd-year-long engagement in Syracusan politics. This involvement is reported on at length in the Platonic Letters, included in this edition. At some point, presumably in the ’eighties, Plato opened a school of higher education in the sacred grove of Academus, in the Attic countryside near Athens, apparently offering formal instruction in mathematical, philosophical, and political studies. He seems to have spent the rest of his life (except for the visits to Syracuse) teaching, researching, and writing there. Under his leadership, the Academy became a major center of research and intellectual exchange, gathering to itself philosophers and mathematicians from all over the Greek world. Among its members was Aristotle, who came as a student in about 367 at the age of eighteen and remained there as teacher, researcher, and writer himself, right up to the time of Plato’s death twenty years later. I. The ‘Canon’ of Thrasyllus These Complete Works make available a single collection of all the works that have come down to us from antiquity under Plato’s name. We include all the texts published in the early first century A.D. in what became the definitive edition of Plato’s works, that by Thrasyllus, an astrologer and Platonist philosopher from the Greek city of Alexandria, in Egypt.4 From Thrasyllus’ edition derive all our medieval manuscripts of Plato—and so almost all our own knowledge of his texts. Apparently following earlier 3. Several ‘lives’ of Plato have survived from antiquity, of which the earliest, that by Diogenes Laertius (translated by R. D. Hicks, Cambridge, Mass.: Loeb Classical Library, 1925), dates perhaps from the third century A.D. 4. For the sake of completeness, we also print translations of the short poems (‘Epigrams’) that have come down to us from antiquity with Plato’s name attached. Introduction ix precedent, Thrasyllus arranged the works of Plato (thirty-five dialogues, plus a set of thirteen ‘Letters’ as a thirty-sixth entry) in nine ‘tetralogies’— groups of four works each—reminiscent of the ancient tragedies, which were presented in trilogies (such as the well-known Oresteia of Aeschylus) followed by a fourth, so-called satyr play, preserving a link to the origins of tragedy in rituals honoring the god Dionysus. In addition to these, he included in an appendix a group of ‘spurious’ works, presumably ones that had been circulating under Plato’s name, but that he judged were later accretions. We follow Thrasyllus in our own presentation: first the nine tetralogies, then the remaining works that he designated as spurious.5 With one exception, earlier translations into English of Plato’s collected works have actually been only selections from this traditional material:6 usually they have omitted all the Thrasyllan ‘spurious’ works, plus a certain number of others that were included in his tetralogies, since the editors of the collections judged them not in fact Plato’s work. In their widely used collection,7 Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns include none of the ‘spuria’ and only twenty-nine of the thirty-six other works.8 From Thrasyllus’ tetralogies they omit Alcibiades, Second Alcibiades, Hipparchus, Rival Lovers, Theages, Clitophon, and Minos. Even if these dialogues are not by Plato himself (and at least Clitophon and Alcibiades could very well be), they are all valuable works, casting interesting light on Socrates and the Socratic legacy. They also deserve attention as important documents in the history of Platonism: it is worthy of note that teachers of Platonist philosophy in later antiquity standardly organized their instruction through lectures on ten ‘major’ dialogues, beginning with Alcibiades— omitted by Hamilton and Cairns, presumably as not by Plato. The dialogues classified by Thrasyllus as spurious also deserve attention, even though in their case there are strong reasons for denying Plato’s authorship; and the Definitions are a valuable record of work being done in Plato’s Academy 5. Since our manuscripts standardly present the thirty-six ‘tetralogical’ works in the order that ancient evidence indicates was Thrasyllus’, it is reasonable to think that their order for the spuria goes back to Thrasyllus’ edition too. We present these in the order of our oldest manuscript that contains them, the famous ninth- or tenth-century Paris manuscript of the complete works. (In some other manuscripts Axiochus is placed at the front of the list, instead of the back.) 6. The only previous comparably complete translation (it does however omit one small work of disputed authorship, the Halcyon, included here, and the Epigrams as well) is The Works of Plato, edited by George Burges, in six volumes, for the Bohn Classical Library, London: G. Bell and Sons, 1861–70. This is a ‘literal’ translation, not easy to read or otherwise use. 7. The Collected Dialogues of Plato including the Letters, Bollingen Foundation (Princeton University Press, 1961). 8. In its ten Plato volumes, the Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, various dates) does include translations (with facing Greek text) of all thirty-six works in Thrasyllus’ tetralogies, but none of the ‘spuria’. x Introduction in his lifetime and the immediately following decades.9 (For further details see the respective introductory notes to each of the translations.) Especially given the often inevitably subjective character of judgments about authenticity, it is inappropriate to allow a modern editor’s judgment to determine what is included in a comprehensive collection of Plato’s work. The only viable policy is the one followed here, to include the whole corpus of materials handed down from antiquity. At the same time, it should be frankly emphasized that this corpus—both the works it includes as genuine and the text itself of the works—derives from the judgment of one ancient scholar, Thrasyllus. His edition of Plato’s work, prepared nearly four hundred years after Plato’s death, was derived from no doubt differing texts of the dialogues (and Letters) in libraries and perhaps in private hands, not at all from anything like a modern author’s ‘autograph’. No doubt also, both in its arrangement and in decisions taken as to the genuineness of items and the text to be inscribed, it may have reflected the editor’s own understanding of Plato’s philosophy (perhaps a tendentious one) and his views on how it ought to be organized for teaching purposes.10 So, since the present editor has exercised his own judgment only to the extent of deciding to follow the edition of Thrasyllus, we are thrown back on Thrasyllus’ judgment in the works included and in their order and arrangement. Since Thrasyllus included all the genuine works of Plato that any surviving ancient author refers to, plus some disputed ones, we apparently have the good fortune to possess intact all of Plato’s published writings. Thrasyllus’ order appears to be determined by no single criterion but by several sometimes conflicting ones, though his arrangement may represent some more or less unified idea about the order in which the dialogues should be read and taught. For example, the first four works (Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo) manifestly follow internal evidence establishing a chronological order for the events related in them—the ‘Last Days of Socrates’. The conversation in Euthyphro is marked as taking place shortly before Socrates’ trial; his speech at his trial is then given in the Apology, while Crito presents a visit to Socrates in prison, three days before his execution, which is the culminating event of the Phaedo. Somewhat similar internal linkages explain the groups Republic-Timaeus-Critias and Theaetetus-Sophist-Statesman (although the conversation in Theaetetus seems to present itself as taking place earlier on the same day as that of Euthyphro— a key to grouping that Thrasyllus quite reasonably opted to ignore). But topical and other, more superficial connections play a role as well. Clitophon is placed before Republic, and Minos before Laws to serve as brief introduc9. In the table of contents works whose Platonic authorship has plausibly been questioned in antiquity or modern times are marked, either as ones which no one reasonably thinks are by Plato or as ones as to which there is no consensus that they are by him. 10. For a somewhat speculative, rather alarmist, view of the extent of Thrasyllus’ editorial work, see H. Tarrant, Thrasyllan Platonism (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1993). Introduction xi tions to the central themes of these two major works, justice and legislation respectively, and the two Alcibiades dialogues are grouped together, as are the Greater and Lesser Hippias. Even the presumed order of composition seems responsible for the last tetralogy’s bringing the series to a conclusion with Laws and its appendix Epinomis (followed by Letters): we have evidence that Laws was left unpublished at Plato’s death, presumably because he had not finished working on it. Most readers will have little need to attend to such details of Thrasyllus’ arrangement, but one point is important. Except for Laws, as just noted, Thrasyllus’ tetralogies do not claim to present the dialogues in any supposed order of their composition by Plato. Indeed, given the enormous bulk of Laws, different parts of it could well have been written before or contemporaneously with other dialogues—so Thrasyllus’ order need not indicate even there that Laws was the last work Plato composed. Thrasyllus’ lack of bias as regards the order of composition is one great advantage that accrues to us in following his presentation of the dialogues. Previous editors (for example, both Hamilton and Cairns and Benjamin Jowett11) imposed their own view of the likely order of composition upon their arrangement of the dialogues. But judgments about the order of composition are often as subjective as judgments about Platonic authorship itself. In modern times, moreover, the chronology of composition has been a perennial subject of scholarly debate, and sometimes violent disagreement, in connection with efforts to establish the outline of Plato’s philosophical ‘development’, or the lack of any. We have solid scholarly arguments and a consensus about some aspects of the chronology of Plato’s writings (I return to this below), but this is much too slight a basis on which conscientiously to fix even an approximate ordering of all the dialogues. Speaking 11. The Dialogues of Plato (London: Macmillan, 1st ed. 1871, 3rd 1892; 4th ed., revised, by D. J. Allan and H. E. Dale, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1953, four vols.). Allan and Dale claim explicitly that theirs is the approximate order of composition; Jowett left his own order unexplained, but it is not very different from Allan and Dale’s. Of Thrasyllus’ thirty-six ‘genuine’ works Jowett1 prints twenty-seven dialogues (no Letters); Jowett3 adds a twenty-eighth (Second Alcibiades), plus one of Thrasyllus’ eight ‘spurious’ works (Eryxias), both translated by his secretary Matthew Knight; Jowett4 shrinks back to twentyeight (adding Greater Hippias, translated by Allan and Dale themselves, but omitting Second Alcibiades as nongenuine). The earliest comprehensive English translation, that of Thomas Taylor (except that F. Sydenham is credited with the translation of nine dialogues) (London, 1804, five vols.) is organized on a fanciful ‘systematic’ basis, in which the dialogues judged by him to establish the ‘comprehensive’ Platonic views respectively in ethics and politics and in natural philosophy and metaphysics come first, followed by the various more ‘partial’ treatments of specific questions. The title page to each of Taylor’s five volumes claims to present ‘[Plato’s] Fifty-five Dialogues and Twelve Epistles’, a surprising way of referring to the thirty-five Thrasyllan ‘genuine’ dialogues that the collection actually contains (he omits the thirteenth Letter as obviously spurious): presumably he counts each book of Republic and Laws as a separate ‘dialogue’, in which case the total is indeed fifty-five. xii Introduction generally, issues of chronology should be left to readers to pursue or not, as they see fit, and it would be wrong to bias the presentation of Plato’s works in a translation intended for general use by imposing on it one’s own favorite chronological hypotheses. Thrasyllus’ order does not do that, and it has the additional advantage of being for us the traditional one, common ground for all contemporary interpreters.12 Such interpretative biases as it may contain do not concern any writer nowadays, so it can reasonably be considered a neutral basis on which to present these works to contemporary readers. II. Chronological vs. Thematic Groupings of the Platonic Dialogues In teaching and writing about Plato, it is almost customary nowadays (in my view unfortunately so: see below) to divide the dialogues into groups on the basis of a presumed rough order of their composition: People constantly speak of Plato’s ‘early’, ‘middle’ (or ‘middle-period’), and ‘late’ dialogues—though there is no perfect unanimity as to the membership of the three groups, and finer distinctions are sometimes marked, of ‘earlymiddle’ dialogues or ‘transitional’ ones at either end of the intermediate group.13 Although this terminology announces itself as marking chronologically distinct groups, it is in reality based only in small part on anything like hard facts about when Plato composed given dialogues. (For these facts, see the next paragraph.) For the most part, the terminology encapsulates a certain interpretative thesis about the evolving character of Plato’s authorship, linked to the development of his philosophical thought. This authorship began, it is assumed, sometime after 399 B.C., the year of Socrates’ death, and continued until his own death some fifty years later. According to this thesis, Plato began as the author of dialogues setting forth his ‘teacher’ conversing much as we presume he typically actually did when discussing his favorite philosophical topics—morality, virtue, the best human life—with the young men who congregated round him and other intellectuals in Athens, where he spent his entire life. These, then, would constitute the ‘early’ dialogues, sometimes also thematically described as the ‘Socratic’ dialogues; they are all relatively short works. Only gradually, on this view, did Plato grow into a fully independent philosopher, with new ideas and interests of his own, as outgrowths from and supplements to his ‘Socratic heritage’. In his writings presumed to postdate the founding of the Academy, we see new ideas and interests first and primarily in the 12. Modern editions of Plato in Greek (for example, that of J. Burnet in the Oxford Classical Texts series of Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1900–1907, in five volumes: a revised edition is underway) regularly present the Thrasyllan corpus in Thrasyllus’ order. 13. For one influential version of this division, see G. Vlastos, Socrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1991), pp. 46–47. Introduction xiii introduction of his celebrated theory of ‘Forms’—eternal, nonphysical, quintessentially unitary entities, knowledge of which is attainable by abstract and theoretical thought, standing immutably in the nature of things as standards on which the physical world and the world of moral relationships among human beings are themselves grounded. This happens in the ‘middle’ dialogues: Symposium, Phaedo, and Republic, most notably—much longer and philosophically more challenging works. The ‘middle’ dialogues are usually construed to include also Parmenides, with its critical reflections on the theory of Forms, and Theaetetus. Finally—still according to this interpretative thesis—the ‘late’ period comprises a new series of investigations into logic, metaphysics, the philosophy of physics, and ethics and political theory, from which these ‘Forms’ either are absent altogether or else at least the principal theoretical work is accomplished without direct and simple appeal to their authoritative status. These include Timaeus, Sophist, Statesman, Philebus, and Laws. Along with these philosophical developments, Plato’s manner of writing dialogues was evolving, too. In the ‘middle’ dialogues, where Socrates continues to be the principal speaker, he is no longer limited to questioning and commenting upon the views of his fellow discussants, as in the ‘early’ dialogues, but branches out into the development of elaborate, positive philosophical theses of his own. In the ‘late’ dialogues, however (with the understandable exception of Philebus—see the introductory note to that work), Socrates ceases altogether to be an active participant in the discussion. Moreover, the conversation takes on the character of a dogmatic exposition of doctrine by the main speaker to an audience. One of these may play virtually the sole role of nodding assent from time to time or requesting further explanations, so as to register acceptance and provide an easy means of noting and dividing—and highlighting the importance of—the principal topics as they successively arise. Now, in its broad outlines, such a division of Plato’s works into three chronological periods could be correct—the interpretative thesis, or rather theses, on which it rests do have some plausibility, though they are obviously not compelling. But in fact we have really only two bits of reliable, hard information about the chronology of Plato’s writings. One of these I have already mentioned: Laws was left unpublished at Plato’s death. The other derives from the fact that Theaetetus seems to present itself as a memorial honoring its namesake, a famous mathematician and longtime associate of Plato’s in his Academy, who died an untimely death in 369 B.C.: that seems to date the dialogue to about 369–365 or so. Since internal evidence links Theaetetus to Sophist and Statesman as its two successors, that would suggest (though of course it does not prove) that those three dialogues were written in that order, after about 367—therefore in the last two decades of Plato’s life, his sixties and seventies. Useful as that information may be, it is obviously not sufficient basis for fixing any complete chronological guide to the reading and teaching of the dialogues. As for Laws, however, it began to be noticed already in the nineteenth xiv Introduction century that its sentences are characterized by the frequency and constancy of a number of stylistic features that it shares with only a few other dialogues: the four that I listed above as ‘late’—Timaeus, Sophist, Statesman, Philebus—plus Critias. On the obviously not perfectly secure assumption that, at least cumulatively, such stylistic affiliation, setting these works off strongly from all the others, must fix a chronological grouping, exhaustive ‘stylometric’ investigations have led to a consensus in favor of adding these five works to Laws—independently known to be a late composition— as constituting Plato’s last period.14 Thus one might claim substantial hard evidence in favor at least of recognizing these six works (plus Epinomis, if it is by Plato) as constituting a separate, late group. But stylometry does not strongly support any particular order among the six, nor can it establish any particular ordering of the remaining dialogues among themselves— though some do claim that it establishes a second group of four dialogues as the latest of the nonlate group: Republic, Parmenides, Theaetetus, and Phaedrus in some undetermined order. So, even if we accept the somewhat insecure assumption noted just above, no hard data support the customary division of the dialogues into chronological groups, except with respect to the last of the three—the ‘late’ dialogues Timaeus, Critias, Sophist, Statesman, Philebus, and Laws. The classifications of ‘early’ and ‘middle-period’ dialogues rest squarely on the interpretative theses concerning the progress of Plato’s work, philosophically and literarily, outlined above. As such, they are an unsuitable basis for bringing anyone to the reading of these works. To use them in that way is to announce in advance the results of a certain interpretation of the dialogues and to canonize that interpretation under the guise of a presumably objective order of composition—when in fact no such order is objectively known. And it thereby risks prejudicing an unwary reader against the fresh, individual reading that these works demand. For these reasons, I urge readers not to undertake the study of Plato’s works holding in mind the customary chronological groupings of ‘early’, ‘middle’, and ‘late’ dialogues. It is safe to recognize only the group of six late dialogues. Even for these, it is better to relegate thoughts about chronology to the secondary position they deserve and to concentrate on the literary and philosophical content of the works, taken on their own and in relation to the others. In some cases it may indeed seem desirable to begin with a preliminary idea about the place of a given dialogue in the series (Gorgias and Protagoras earlier than Republic, say, or Theaetetus before Sophist, or Symposium before Phaedo). Certainly, a study of such sets of dialogues might lead one to argue that the philosophical ideas they contain show an evolution in some particular direction. But chronological hypotheses must not preclude the independent interpretation and evalua14. For a survey of these investigations and references to recent and older stylometric studies of Plato, see Charles M. Young, ‘Plato and Computer Dating’ in Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, XII, ed. C. C. W. Taylor (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), pp. 227–50. Introduction xv tion of the philosophical arguments the dialogues contain; so far as possible, the individual texts must be allowed to speak for themselves. However, in reading the dialogues, it may help to be aware from the outset of certain thematic groupings among them. In our introductory notes to the individual works, we inform readers about such links from the work in question to others and provide other information that may help in placing the work in the proper context within Plato’s writings and in the Athens of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. One very large group of dialogues can usefully be identified here. These are what we may call the Socratic dialogues—provided that the term is understood to make no chronological claims, but rather simply to indicate certain broad thematic affinities. In these works, not only is Socrates the principal speaker, but also the topics and manner of the conversation conform to what we have reason to think, both from Plato’s own representations in the Apology and from other contemporary literary evidence, principally that of the writer Xenophon,15 was characteristic of the historical Socrates’ own philosophical conversations. Included here are fully twenty of the thirty-six works in Thrasyllus’ tetralogies and (allowance made for their post-Platonic authorship) all seven of the dialogues that he classified as spurious: from the tetralogies, Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Alcibiades, Second Alcibiades, Hipparchus, Rival Lovers, Theages, Charmides, Laches, Lysis, Euthydemus, Protagoras, Gorgias, Greater and Lesser Hippias, Ion, Menexenus, Clitophon, and Minos. One can think of these works, in part, as presenting a portrait of Socrates—Socrates teaching young men by challenging them to examine critically their own ideas, Socrates as moral exemplar and supreme philosophical dialectician, Socrates seeking after moral knowledge, while always disclaiming the final possession of any, through subjecting his own and others’ ideas to searching rational scrutiny. But just as there is no reason to think that these dialogues are or derive in any way from records of actual conversations of the historical Socrates, so there is also no reason to suppose that in writing them16 Plato intended simply to reconstruct from memory actual arguments, philosophical distinctions, etc., that Socrates had used, or views that he had become persuaded of through his lifelong practice of philosophical dialectic. To be sure, one evident feature of these dialogues is that in them Socrates does philosophize in the way the historical Socrates, according to the rest of our evidence, did. He seeks the opinions of his interlocutors on moral, political, and social questions 15. Xenophon’s Socratic writings include his own Apology, a Symposium, and four books of Memoirs of Socrates (often referred to by its Latin title, Memorabilia); these are translated by H. Tredennick and R. Waterfield (Penguin Books, 1990), and are available in Greek and English in the Loeb Classical Library series (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, various dates). 16. That is, the ones he did write: there are reasonable doubts as to the Platonic origins of several of the dialogues included in the tetralogies, and a few are generally held not to be his work. xvi Introduction and subjects them to searching critical examination. It is true that, in some of them, such as Gorgias, he also comes forward with distinctive moral and political ideas of his own, to which he attempts to show his interlocutors, despite their overt denials, are logically committed since these ideas follow from propositions that the other speakers have themselves granted. But, by contrast with dialogues such as Phaedo and Republic, he does not engage here in elaborate positive philosophical construction, putting forward ambitious philosophical theses of his own and offering independent philosophical argument and other considerations in their favor. In particular, Socrates says nothing about the theory of Forms. That is a sign that in these dialogues Plato intends not to depart, as he does elsewhere, from Socratic methods of reasoning or from the topics to which Socrates devoted his attention, and no doubt he carries over into these portraits much of the substance of Socrates’ own philosophizing, as Plato himself understood it. But Plato was not the only or even the first of Socrates’ companions to write Socratic dialogues. Though, with the exception of Xenophon’s, no other such dialogues have survived complete, we know enough about the contents of some of them to be sure that no convention of the genre forbade the author to write freely and from his own head about philosophical and other matters that interested him. Indeed, quite to the contrary, as we can see from Xenophon’s dialogue Oeconomicus, in which Socrates discourses knowledgeably and at great length about estate management, a subject we have good reason to think he never knew or cared anything about— though Xenophon himself certainly did. So we have good reason to expect that at least some of what Plato makes Socrates say in his Socratic dialogues expresses new ideas developed in his own philosophical reflections, not mere elaborations of historically Socratic thoughts. This is perhaps particularly clearly the case, though in different ways, in Charmides, Lysis, Euthydemus, and Gorgias, but it is an open possibility in them all, to be decided in the light of a full interpretation of their contents, in relation to that of other dialogues. It is worth saying again that classifying these along with the rest as Socratic dialogues carries no implication whatsoever of an early date of composition or an early stage of the author’s philosophical development. As I am using the term, it is a thematic classification only. We know no reason to conclude that Plato wrote dialogues of this genre during only one phase of his career as an author, whether early or late. Though it is reasonable to suppose that Plato’s earliest writings were in fact Socratic dialogues, there is no reason to suppose that, just because a dialogue is a Socratic one, it must have been written before all the dialogues of other types—except, of course, that if we were right to accept a special group of late dialogues, the Socratic dialogues must predate all of these. The decision about the relative chronology of any of these dialogues, if one wishes to reach a decision on that secondary question at all, must be reached only after a careful and complete study of their philosophical content, in comparison with the contents of Plato’s other works. Introduction xvii There are eight dialogues other than the Socratic and the late dialogues: Phaedo, Cratylus, Theaetetus, Parmenides, Symposium, Phaedrus, Meno, and Republic. It is not easy to identify a common theme unifying this whole group. As it happens, however, they correspond closely to the putative classification of ‘middle-period’ dialogues. In these Socrates remains a principal speaker, although in Parmenides not Socrates but Parmenides sets and directs the philosophical agenda. As noted above, these stand apart from the Socratic dialogues in that here Socrates takes and argues directly for ambitious, positive philosophical positions of his own. However, those considerations do not set them cleanly apart from the late dialogues as a whole, since Socrates is the main speaker again in Philebus, and he appears in the introductory conversations of Timaeus and Critias, more briefly in those of Sophist and Statesman, and those dialogues are just as philosophically ambitious, even if in somewhat different ways. In all but two of the dialogues of this group (Theaetetus and Meno), the Platonic theory of Forms plays a prominent and crucial role: Indeed, it is these dialogues that establish and define the ‘classical’ theory of Forms, as that has been understood by later generations of philosophers. Were it not for Theaetetus and Meno, one might be tempted to classify this group simply as the ‘Classical Theory of Forms’ dialogues. On the other hand, Phaedrus, despite Socrates’ use of the classical theory in his second speech on erōs, foreshadows the revised conception of a Form as some sort of divided whole—no longer a simple unity—known about by the method of ‘collection and division’ that the late dialogues Sophist, Statesman, and Philebus set out and employ at length. And it seems that one important lesson Parmenides wishes to teach Socrates in the Parmenides also goes in the same direction. Moreover, Theaetetus is marked by Plato as some sort of successor to Parmenides and predecessor of Sophist and Statesman. (See the introductory notes to these dialogues.) Thus Phaedrus, Parmenides, and Theaetetus all have clear forward connections to the late dialogues. For all these reasons, it would be a mistake to claim any unifying single common theme for this group. At the most, one could say that this group develops the positive philosophical theories in ethics and politics and in metaphysics and theory of knowledge that we normally associate with Plato, centering on the classical theory of Forms, while including several dialogues which point forward to the innovations worked out in the late group. Accordingly, no thematic name for the group seems available, and we must make do simply by referring to a ‘second’ group of Plato’s dialogues, alongside the Socratic works, both groups to be placed chronologically before the late dialogues. As before, this classification must be understood as having no chronological implications whatsoever of its own, as regards their relationship to the Socratic dialogues. Any decision as to relative dates of composition, either within the second group itself or with respect to the various members of the Socratic group, must be reached only after comparative study of the philosophical contents of the individual xviii Introduction dialogues themselves. While one might reasonably suppose that, in general, the dialogues of the second group were written later than the Socratic group, it is not safe to rule out some chronological overlapping in composition. III. Plato and the Dialogue Form Why did Plato write dialogues? What does it mean for the reader of his works that they take this form? Philosophers of earlier generations expounded their views and developed their arguments either in the meters of epic poetry (Xenophanes, Parmenides, Empedocles, for example), or in short prose writings or collections of remarks (Anaximander, Heraclitus, Anaxagoras, Philolaus, Democritus), or in rhetorical display pieces (the Sophists Gorgias, Protagoras, and Prodicus). Socrates himself, of course, was not a writer at all but engaged in philosophy only orally, in face-toface question-and-answer discussions. It is clear that the dialogue form for philosophical writing began within the circle of those for whom philosophy meant in the first instance the sort of inquiry Socrates was engaged in. I mentioned above that Plato was not the first or only Socratic to write philosophical dialogues, but he certainly elaborated and expanded the genre far beyond what anyone else ever attempted. He not only wrote Socratic dialogues, as we have seen, but he developed the genre also to the point where, eventually, Socrates dropped out of the cast of characters altogether—in the magnum opus of his old age, the Laws. Plato’s younger associate Aristotle also wrote dialogues (all of which have perished), as well as the lectures and treatises that we know him for, but, significantly, they seem not to have had Socrates among their characters:17 Socrates had been dead for fifteen years at Aristotle’s birth, and he could not have had the personal attachment to him as a philosophical model that Plato and the others in the first generation of dialogue writers obviously did.18 But, as already with Aristotle, the medium of choice for later philosophers— Theophrastus and other Peripatetics, Epicurus and his followers, the Stoic philosophers, Sextus Empiricus, late Platonists—was the prose discourse or treatise (sometimes a commentary on a work of Plato’s or Aristotle’s or some other ‘ancient’ philosopher).19 There, the author spoke directly to his readers in his own voice. The close association of the dialogue form with the Socratic conception of philosophy as face-to-face discussion is 17. According to Cicero (Letters to Atticus XIII xix 4), Aristotle appeared as the main speaker in his own dialogues. 18. At least one other Academic of Aristotle’s generation, Plato’s nephew and successor as head of the school, Speusippus, also wrote dialogues, along with philosophical works of other genres. We know nothing substantial about them. 19. Epicurus also seems to have written at least one dialogue, and there is evidence of dialogues written by some Peripatetics. Introduction xix borne out in the principal exception to this rule, the Latin philosophical works of Cicero (first century B.C.): the plurality of voices and the author’s capacity to stand back from and question what these voices say made the dialogue format suit perfectly a nondogmatic or ‘skeptical’ Platonist like Cicero. (On ‘skeptical’ Platonism, see further below.) It was characteristic of philosophy before Socrates and Plato that philosophers usually put themselves forward as possessors of special insight and wisdom: they had the truth, and everyone else should just listen to them and learn. Thus Parmenides’ poem tells how he was brought in a chariot to a goddess at the borders of night and day—the very center of the truth— and then sets out that truth and the arguments on which it rests, while also revealing the errors of everyone else’s ways. Similarly Heraclitus, in his prose book, claims to have discovered in one big thought—essentially, the unity of opposites—the key to all reality, and he excoriates other thinkers—several by name—as having missed it by wasting their time learning up all sorts of arcane details. These philosophers hoped and expected to win fame for themselves personally, as the authors (among humans) of their own ‘truth’. The genres in which they wrote suited this intellectual stance and these authorial ambitions perfectly: they could speak directly to their readers, as the authors of the poetry or prose in which they were handing down the truth. Socrates was a totally new kind of Greek philosopher. He denied that he had discovered some new wisdom, indeed that he possessed any wisdom at all, and he refused to hand anything down to anyone as his personal ‘truth’, his claim to fame. All that he knew, humbly, was how to reason and reflect, how to improve himself and (if they would follow him in behaving the same way) help others to improve themselves, by doing his best to make his own moral, practical opinions, and his life itself, rest on appropriately tested and examined reasons—not on social authority or the say-so of esteemed poets (or philosophers) or custom or any other kind of intellectual laziness. At the same time, he made this self-improvement and the search for truth in which it consisted a common, joint effort, undertaken in discussion together with similarly committed other persons—even if it sometimes took on a rather combative aspect. The truth, if achieved, would be a truth attained by and for all who would take the trouble to think through on their own the steps leading to it: it could never be a personal ‘revelation’ for which any individual could claim special credit. In writing Socratic dialogues and, eventually, dialogues of other types, Plato was following Socrates in rejecting the earlier idea of the philosopher as wise man who hands down the truth to other mortals for their grateful acceptance and resulting fame for himself. It is important to realize that whatever is stated in his works is stated by one or another of his characters, not directly by Plato the author; in his writings he is not presenting his ‘truth’ and himself as its possessor, and he is not seeking glory for having it. If there is new wisdom and ultimate truth in his works, this is not xx Introduction served up on a plate. Plato does not formulate his own special ‘truth’ for his readers, for them to learn and accept. You must work hard even to find out what the author of a Platonic dialogue is saying to the reader— it is in the writing as a whole that the author speaks, not in the words of any single speaker—and the dialogue form demands that you think for yourself in deciding what, if anything, in it or suggested by it is really the truth. So you have to read and think about what each speaker says to the others (and also, sometimes, what he does not say), notice what may need further defense than is actually given it, and attend to the author’s manner in presenting each character, and the separate speeches, for indications of points on which the author thinks some further thought is required. And, beyond that, you must think for yourself, reasoning on the basis of the text, to see whether or not there really are adequate grounds in support of what it may appear to you the text as a whole is saying. In all this, Plato is being faithful to Socrates’ example: the truth must be arrived at by each of us for ourselves, in a cooperative search, and Plato is only inviting others to do their own intellectual work, in cooperation with him, in thinking through the issues that he is addressing. One might attend here to what Plato has Socrates say at the end of Phaedrus about written discourses. Socrates is speaking in the first instance of speeches written for oral delivery, but he applies his remarks to all writing on political or other serious philosophical subjects. Actual knowledge of the truth on any of these matters requires a constant capacity to express and re-express it in relation to varying circumstances and needs and in response to new questions or challenges that may arise. Knowledge is a limitless ability to interpret and reinterpret itself—it cannot be set down exhaustively in any single set of formulas, for universal, once-forall use. Accordingly, no book can actually embody the knowledge of anything of philosophical importance; only a mind can do that, since only a mind can have this capacity to interpret and reinterpret its own understandings. A book must keep on saying the same words to whoever picks it up. Most books—perhaps those of Parmenides and some other early philosophers among them—attempt the impossible task of telling the reader the truth, with the vain idea that, through putting their words into their heads, they will come to possess knowledge of it.20 Plato’s dialogues are writings—books—too; like all books, once written, their words are 20. Letter VII (341c–d, 344c–e) speaks rather similarly about philosophical writings, emphasizing the impossibility of writing down the content of any state of mind that might constitute true knowledge of philosophical truth. Letter II (314b–c) limits itself to a very different, much less interesting, complaint about such writing—and recommends a remedy that actually contradicts the main idea here: it will inevitably fall into the wrong hands, so that any sensible philosopher will have his pupils commit his oral teaching to memory instead of writing down on paper the words to be memorized! In both Letters the author (whether Plato or someone impersonating him) gives these considerations as Plato’s reasons for never having written a philosophical treatise. Introduction xxi fixed for all time and all readers. But because they demand that the reader interpret and reinterpret the meaning of what is said, going ever deeper in their own questioning and their own understanding both of the writings themselves and of the truth about the subjects addressed in them, these writings speak in a unique new way to the reader. It may remain true that only a mind, and no book, can contain the knowledge of anything important. But a Platonic dialogue makes a unique claim to do what a book can do to engage a person effectively in the right sort of search for truth. IV. Reading Plato Despite this inherent open-endedness and the fact that Plato speaks only through the writing as a whole, all Plato’s dialogues do have a principal speaker, one who establishes the topic of discussion and presides over it. In the Socratic works and the second group of dialogues, with the exception of Parmenides, this is Socrates. In the late dialogues, except Philebus, where Socrates reappears to discuss the nature of the human good, it is the anonymous visitor from Elea, in Sophist and Statesman, or the equally anonymous Athenian of Laws and Epinomis, or else Timaeus or Critias, in the dialogues named after them. In each dialogue Plato focuses the reader’s attention on what the principal speaker says. Indeed, in the late dialogues, though again Philebus is something of an exception, the other speakers put up so little opposition and their comments introduce into the proceedings so little of the sort of fertile nuance that one finds in the other dialogues, that for long stretches there is little else that could claim the reader’s attention at all. In fact, the substance of Timaeus and Critias is contained in uninterrupted discourses that the main speaker delivers to the others present, with no indication even at the end of how they received it: there is no return to the conversational context in which it was originally introduced. Can one not take these principal speakers as Plato’s mouthpieces, handing straight out as their own opinions what Plato himself believed at the time he wrote and what he wished his readers to understand as such—both as the truth and as what Plato thought was the truth? If what I have said about the dialogue form and Plato’s commitment to it—right to the end of his writer’s career—is correct, the strict answer to this question must be in the negative, in all cases. However much his principal speakers really do, in some way, speak on his behalf, he must also, in some way, be holding back from arguing and asserting personally the things that he has any of them say. What, then, are we to make of Plato’s relation to what they do say? Each dialogue has to be read individually, but the three different groups—the Socratic dialogues, the second group, and the late dialogues—plainly do place the author in different sorts of relationship to his main speaker. Without going into the individual differences, here is some general orientation on the author’s relationships to the leading speakers in each of the three groups. xxii Introduction First, there is a matter of literary form that applies to all the dialogues. As I have emphasized, Plato never speaks in his own author’s voice but puts all his words into a particular speaker’s mouth. This means that, although everything any speaker says is Plato’s creation, he also stands before it all as the reader does: he puts before us, the readers, and before himself as well, ideas, arguments, theories, claims, etc. for all of us to examine carefully, reflect on, follow out the implications of—in sum, to use as a springboard for our own further philosophical thought. Authors writing in their own voices can, of course, do the same: they do not always have to be straightforwardly advocating the positions they develop and argue for, though that is what Greek authors usually did, and with passionate self-promotion. But they must take special steps to make the reader aware that that is what they are doing, for example by saying it in so many words. In his dialogues, Plato adopts that stance automatically.21 However much he may himself believe everything that, say, the Athenian visitor puts forward in Laws X about the existence of the gods and the importance for human life of accepting their providential relationship to us and the physical world, he stands to it, even though he is its author, as his readers also stand. To finally understand all this as the truth requires further work—one must sift and develop and elevate the thoughts expressed there into the kind of self-sufficient, self-interpreting total grasp that I referred to above in drawing on what Phaedrus says about writing. Certainly, we should not think that Plato had already attained that Elysian condition and was writing from its perspective through the Athenian’s mouth. Much less should we think that he was pretending to himself or to his readers that he had attained it. That would be a malicious and unprincipled abuse of the very dialogue form that Plato was so obviously determined to uphold. So even in the late dialogues, where, as noted, there is often little else before us but the arguments of the principal speaker, Plato stands back—everything needs further thought; what we have before us is partial and provisional at best, however decisive it might be about particular points under discussion. In the dialogues of the second group, the role of the interlocutors is much more substantial, and the main speaker himself, usually Socrates, expresses more reservations, more caution and tentativeness, about what he is putting forward. Accordingly, even though readers always and understandably speak of the theories adumbrated by Socrates here as ‘Plato’s theories’, one ought not to speak of them so without some compunction— the writing itself, and also Plato the author, present these always in a spirit of open-ended exploration, and sometimes there are contextual clues 21. I should emphasize that I am speaking here simply of Plato’s handling of the dialogue form. Another author (perhaps Berkeley in his Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous is one of these) might use the form simply for expository convenience, making it clear that he is using one of the speakers to present his own ideas and arguments and using the others as a means of countering certain sorts of resistance to them. Introduction xxiii indicating that Socrates exaggerates or goes beyond what the argument truly justifies, and so on. Finally, in the Socratic dialogues, all these cautionary points hold good, and others too. To the extent that Plato is providing a portrait of his friend Socrates, it is only common sense not to assume that Plato accepts as valid everything philosophical that he makes Socrates say. Even beyond that, and however much one knows Plato admired Socrates and, indeed, regarded him as the very model of how a philosopher should live, one should remain open to the possibility that a Socratic dialogue, when read fully and properly, may actually indicate some criticisms and point to some shortcomings of positions or methods of argument that it attributes to Socrates. Here one might especially mention Gorgias and Protagoras as dialogues that may demand interpretation along those lines, but the same applies in principle to all the Socratic dialogues. Reading a Platonic dialogue in the spirit in which it was written is therefore a dauntingly complex task. It is in the entire writing that the author speaks to us, not in the remarks made by the individual speakers. To find out what the writing itself is saying—equivalently, what Plato is saying as its author—one must work constantly to question everything that any speaker says, to ask what reasons he may have or what reasons might be provided to support it and what might tend to speak against it; one must never simply take, as if on Plato’s authority, a claim made by any speaker as one that, from the perspective of the dialogue as a whole, constitutes an established philosophical truth—certainly not in the form in which it is stated and not without qualification, expansion, taking into account wider perspectives, and so on. Especially in the Socratic dialogues and those of the second group, one must be alert to contextual indicators of all sorts—the particular way in which an interlocutor agrees to or dissents from something, the more or less explicit characterization provided and other indicators about the personal qualities and commitments of the speakers, as well as hesitations and reservations and qualifications expressed by one or another of them. Those, then, are my own suggestions about the significance of the dialogue form in Plato’s writings. The dialogues have not always been read in the way I have suggested, and not all scholars today share this approach to them: many would not hesitate simply to identify the positions and arguments stated or suggested by Socrates, or whoever the principal speaker is in any given dialogue, as those of the author at the time of composition. Already in antiquity Aristotle usually treats them in that ‘dogmatic’ way, except for the Socratic dialogues, which he seems to have taken as depicting (equally ‘dogmatically’) the historical Socrates’ philosophy. However, in Plato’s own Academy, beginning only a couple of generations after Aristotle’s death, the dialogues were read differently. They were taken to express a skeptical philosophy, one that raises questions about everything, examining the reasons pro and con on each issue, but always holds back from asserting anything as definitely established, as known to be the case. This reading works best, of course, for the Socratic dialogues, xxiv Introduction in which Socrates makes much of the fact that he does not actually know anything himself and can only examine and criticize the well-groundedness of other people’s opinions who think that they do. But Arcesilaus (third century B.C.), one of Plato’s successors as head of the Academy, who first adopted such a skeptical mode of philosophizing and defended it as genuinely Platonic, is reported to have owned a complete set of Plato’s writings—apparently that was an unusual thing in those days—so apparently he studied them all. And indeed, even the last of Plato’s works can sustain the skeptical reading if one takes account of the fact that, formally at least, as I have emphasized myself, Plato never speaks in his own person when any of his characters does: even a main character like the Athenian in Laws or the visitor from Elea, who does not hesitate to speak dogmatically himself, as if he had full possession of the truth on the matters he discourses upon, can still be read as putting something forward that Plato the author is presenting merely for examination and criticism. This ‘skeptical’ Platonism held the field in the Academy for the best part of two centuries, until Antiochus of Ascalon early in the first century B.C. refused any longer to accept the skeptical interpretation of Plato’s own dialogues. After Antiochus, Plato was interpreted again, in the way Aristotle and his contemporaries had understood him, as a systematic philosopher with a whole system of doctrine, both about human life and about metaphysical and scientific principles for interpreting and relating to one another all the facts of experience. This system could be found expounded and argued for especially in the dialogues of the second and the late groups—one just had to take each dialogue’s main character as Plato’s mouthpiece. In Roman imperial times, this dogmatic interpretation was expanded and consolidated, as Platonist philosophers came to regard Plato’s writings as the repository of the ultimate and permanent highest truths about the universe—the equivalent for rationalist pagans of the Jews’ Books of Moses or the Christians’ Gospels. For them, Plato himself had gained a complete and totally adequate insight into the nature and structure of the world and of the divine principles upon which it is organized. All that anyone need do is to read the dialogues correctly in order to discover the truth about every important question of philosophy. It is as if, for Plotinus and the other Platonists of late antiquity (the ones we usually refer to as ‘Neoplatonists’), Plato was speaking to us in his writings in the same way that Parmenides or Heraclitus had done, as possessor of his own ‘truth’— the real truth—handing that down to other mortals in his own somewhat cryptic way, in dialogues. It is quite an irony that, in treating Plato thus as a superwise authority on all philosophical subjects, himself in direct intellectual touch with the highest and most divine principles on which the universe depends, these late Platonists set Plato upon the pedestal of wisdom, traditional among earlier philosophers, the very pedestal that, if I am right, his own commitment to the dialogue form for his writings was intended to renounce. Introduction xxv My suggested approach to the reading of Plato pays full respect to this renunciation. But—with the reservations already noted about Plato’s openness and experimental spirit—it also accepts the overwhelming impression, not just of Antiochus, but of every modern reader of at least many of his dialogues, that Platonism nonetheless constitutes a systematic body of ‘philosophical doctrine’—about the soul and its immortality; the nature of human happiness and its dependence on the perfection of mind and character that comes through the virtues of wisdom, justice, temperance, and courage; the eternal and unaltering Forms whose natures structure our physical world and the world of decent human relations within it; the nature of love and the subservience of love in its genuine form to a vision of that eternal realm. These and many other substantive philosophical ideas to be explored in Plato’s dialogues are his permanent contribution to our Western philosophical culture. But we would fail to heed his own warnings if we did not explore these in a spirit of open-ended inquiry, seeking to expand and deepen our own understandings as we interrogate his texts, and ourselves through them. V. The Translations Hackett Publishing Company began bringing out the works of Plato in modern, readable English translations in 1974, with G.M.A. Grube’s Republic. By 1980 I was advising first William Hackett and then James Hullett, his successor, in the commissioning of, and providing editorial oversight over, the new translations that the company published during the next decade and a half, looking toward an eventual Complete Works. In 1991 D. S. Hutchinson joined the project. In completing the process we now add to the twenty dialogues already published twenty new works commissioned specially for this volume, taking over five additional translations from other sources (two of them extensively revised by the translators for publication here). In overseeing the preparation of the translations, I have had constantly in mind two principal objectives, not often combined, that I was convinced could be achieved simultaneously. First, I wanted them to be as correct as was humanly possible. Taking Plato’s to be first and foremost works of philosophy, for me that meant not just that the meaning of the Greek sentences should be correctly grasped and rendered, with any significant, genuine alternative renderings indicated, but, equally important, that everything establishing the flow and connection of philosophical ideas in the Greek be somehow preserved in the English. Variances and continuities in philosophically significant terminology within a single work should so far as possible be preserved or otherwise indicated in the translation. Where logical relationships are precisely defined in the Greek, they have to be rendered equally precisely in the English. And so on. Many older xxvi Introduction translations, smooth-reading though they sometimes are, fail signally in these crucial respects. On the other hand, I saw no need, in the name of ‘philosophical accuracy’, to introduce indiscriminately neologisms and technical language and to resort to other odd and unnatural terminology or turns of phrase or to torture normal English syntax and patterns of prose composition. Plato’s Greek is straightforward and elegant, most of the time, though in order to express novel and complex theoretical ideas, it must sometimes strain the powers of ordinary language. The aim should be to find a way, while adhering to normal English word order and sentence construction, to say as precisely as possible, in ordinary English—where necessary, ordinary philosophical English—just what an educated contemporary of Plato’s would have taken the Greek being translated to be saying. It is neither necessary nor appropriate to produce ‘English’ encrusted with esoteric code-formations that no one could make good use of except by consulting the Greek text. Hence, we have to reject the ideal some recent translators of Greek philosophy into English have held aloft, to produce a version as ‘close’ to the Greek text in syntax, word order, and terminology as were the medieval Latin Aristotle translations of William of Moerbeke. For one thing, Latin grammar and normal sentence construction are vastly closer to the Greek than our contemporary English has any chance of being. And, in any case, the scholastic study of Aristotle that Moerbeke’s translations were intended to facilitate is nothing we should wish ourselves or our students to emulate in reading Plato (or, for that matter, Aristotle, either). When we English-speaking readers turn to Plato’s texts, we want to find a Plato who speaks in English—our English—and communicates to us as accurately as possible all the details of his thought and artistry. I know that these translations achieve this aim in varying degrees and no doubt none of them as fully as one might realistically wish. But I hope they will be found a durable basis on which both general readers and students can rely in carrying forward into the new millennium the twenty-four-hundred-year tradition of reading and studying these classics of Western philosophy. John M. Cooper July 1996 EDITORIAL NOTES Marginal references In order to facilitate comparison between this edition and others, in Greek or in translation, we print in the margins of the translations the ‘Stephanus numbers’ that are commonly used in scholarly references to the works of Plato. These numbers and letters indicate the corresponding page and section on that page of the relevant volume of the Greek text of Plato as edited (Paris, 1578) by the French scholar Henri Estienne (in Latin, Stephanus). (These are omitted in the case of Halcyon and Epigrams because Stephanus did not include those works in his edition.) Footnotes It has been our intention to provide in footnotes all the basic information the general reader might need in order to follow the discussion in the texts. This includes the identification of persons, places, events, etc., in Greek history and culture, insofar as these are not explained sufficiently in the context where the references to them occur. We have also identified the sources of all Plato’s quotations from other authors, so far as those are known; any that are not identified should be presumed to be from now unidentifiable authors or works. In general, we have not attempted to provide any guidance or commentary as regards issues of philosophical interpretation, apart from that contained in the introductory notes to the individual works. But we have sometimes given alternative translations, where some point of philosophical significance may be at issue and the Greek is ambiguous or otherwise subject to differing construals. In all cases the editor bears ultimate responsibility for the footnotes to the translations: usually these incorporate material that was in the footnotes in the original place of publication or was provided by those responsible for translations here published for the first time, but the editor has decided when a footnote is needed, and when not, and he has borne the responsibility of editing and otherwise preparing the footnotes as they appear here, including providing most of the alternative translations himself. Responsibility for any errors or omissions in the footnotes rests with the editor. Greek text In general the Greek text translated is that of John Burnet, in Platonis Opera, Oxford Classical Texts, five volumes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1900–1907). Where the translation of a given work is based on a different text from Burnet’s, this is recorded in a note at the beginning of the work in question. For each work, every effort has been made to register xxvii xxviii Editorial Notes in footnotes all variances in the translation from the basic Greek text, Burnet’s or another. Such departures, as indicated in the notes, often select alternative readings contained in the manuscripts, or else follow emendations proposed by other editors or in scholarly articles: we do not record the details, beyond saying that a given reading is found in “some manuscripts,” or else that a given emendation “is accepted,” or the like. Those who wish to know the details may usually find them in the apparatus criticus of a critical edition of the dialogue in question. In a few places the translator has opted for a new conjectural treatment in the text translated; there we simply record the conjectured reading without further elaboration. Translations Many of the translations in this book have been published before, either by Hackett Publishing Company or by another publisher (details are given in the Acknowledgments). In all cases the version appearing here reflects revisions, of varying quantity and significance, made by the translators on the advice of the editor. While no general effort has been made to ensure consistency in the translation of recurrent words or phrases across the vast extent of Plato’s works (that would intrude too greatly on the prerogatives and the individual judgment of the translators to whose scholarly expertise we are indebted for these Complete Works), we have adopted a policy of keeping to a single spelling for each of the proper nouns and adjectives that occur in the book. Editorial responsibilities As editor, John M. Cooper has had editorial oversight over the preparation for publication of all the translations in this volume, as well as for the introductions and notes. He is the author of all the introductory notes except those noted just below, signing them J.M.C. In addition to advising the editor generally, D. S. Hutchinson’s special responsibilities as associate editor concerned a set of fifteen works—the ones marked as spurious by the first-century-A.D. editor Thrasyllus, plus eight further dialogues whose Platonic authorship has been at least doubted in modern times: Definitions, On Justice, On Virtue, Demodocus, Sisyphus, Eryxias, Axiochus, Halcyon, Alcibiades, Second Alcibiades, Hipparchus, Rival Lovers, Theages, Clitophon, and Minos. He recruited the translators (translating two of the works, Definitions and Alcibiades, himself) and worked closely with them in the preparation and revision of their versions. He wrote the introductory notes to these fifteen works, signing them D.S.H. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The editor would like to acknowledge the assistance of Sean Kelsey, who as research assistant read through all the translations at the penultimate stage, offering many excellent suggestions for improvement, identifying the sources of Plato’s quotations, and indicating where footnotes were needed, as well as preparing the texts for submission to the publisher. For advice and help on the introduction and introductory notes he would like to thank Rachel Barney, Christopher Bobonich, Panos Dimas, D. S. Hutchinson, George Kateb, Alexander Nehamas, C.D.C. Reeve, J. B. Schneewind, and David Sedley. Discussion with Øyvind Rabbås was helpful in preparing the introductory notes for the Socratic dialogues, especially Laches. Paul Woodruff gave good advice on the revision of the Epigrams translation. For Hackett Publishing Company Deborah Wilkes and Dan Kirklin gave steady, reliable, and invariably intelligent advice and assistance on all aspects of the production of the book. The associate editor would like to thank Nicholas Denyer, Rudolf Kassel, and Carl Werner Müller (whose book Die Kurzdialoge der Appendix Platonica sheds invaluable light on the spurious works in the Platonic corpus), as well as John Cooper, whose critical eye improved every introductory note. The index was prepared by Paul Coppock. The editors would also like to thank him for his work at earlier stages of the project in overseeing the preparation of the translations on behalf of the publisher. Thanks also go to Jonathan Beere for verifying typographical errors and other corrections for the second printing, and to Adam Kissel for invaluable help in bringing some of these to the editors’ attention. Further corrections in the third printing were suggested by Rachel Barney, Alfonso Gomez-Lobo, Charles Kahn, Henry R. Mendell, and Donald Morrison. The editors are grateful for these, as well as for the continued interest of the translators in the improvement of their earlier work. Many of the translations appearing (in revised form) in this book have previously been published separately by Hackett Publishing Company: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Theaetetus, Sophist, Parmenides, Philebus, Symposium, Phaedrus, Charmides, Laches, Lysis, Euthydemus, Protagoras, Gorgias, Meno, Greater Hippias, Ion, and Republic. xxix xxx Acknowledgments Published here for the first time are the translations of Cratylus, Alcibiades, Second Alcibiades, Hipparchus, Rival Lovers, Theages, Lesser Hippias, Menexenus, Clitophon, Timaeus, Critias, Minos, Epinomis, Definitions, On Justice, On Virtue, Demodocus, Sisyphus, Halcyon, and Eryxias. Translations previously published by other publishers are Statesman, translated by C. J. Rowe, Warminster: 1995, reprinted by permission of Aris and Phillips Ltd., UK. The translation that appears here is an extensive revision of the Aris & Phillips translation. It is, however, the text that appears in the Hackett edition of Statesman. Laws, translated by Trevor J. Saunders, reprinted here by permission of Penguin Books Ltd. First published in Great Britain by Penguin Books Ltd., 1970. Reprinted with minor revisions, 1975. Letters, translated by Glenn R. Morrow, from Plato, Epistles, 1962, Library of Liberal Arts, Bobbs-Merrill Co., Inc. Axiochus, translated by Jackson P. Hershbell, 1981, The Society of Biblical Literature. Reprinted here by permission of Jackson P. Hershbell. Epigrams, reprinted as revised by John M. Cooper by permission of the publishers of the Loeb Classical Library from Elegy and Iambus with the Anacreontea, Vol. II, edited by J. M. Edmonds, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1931. Over the twenty years and more that Hackett Publishing Company has been bringing out new translations of Plato, including the work done on the translations appearing here for the first time, many scholars have generously offered their advice as line-by-line readers and consultants on the translations-in-progress of individual works—in some cases, a single reader has worked on more than one such project. The publisher gratefully acknowledges the invaluable assistance of: William Arrowsmith Malcolm Brown Eve Browning Cole John M. Cooper Daniel Devereux Cynthia Freeland Marjorie Grene Richard Hogan D. S. Hutchinson Mark Joyal Richard Kraut M. M. McCabe J.M.E. Moravcsik Alexander Nehamas Martha Nussbaum C.D.C. Reeve Jean Roberts T. M. Robinson Allan Silverman Simon Slings Nicholas P. White Paul Woodruff Donald J. Zeyl EUTHYPHRO The scene is the agora or central marketplace of Athens, before the offices of the magistrate who registers and makes preliminary inquiries into charges brought under the laws protecting the city from the gods’ displeasure. There Socrates meets Euthyphro—Socrates is on his way in to answer the charges of ‘impiety’ brought against him by three younger fellow citizens, on which he is going to be condemned to death, as we learn in the Apology. Euthyphro has just deposed murder charges against his own father for the death of a servant. Murder was a religious offense, since it entailed ‘pollution’ which if not ritually purified was displeasing to the gods; but equally, a son’s taking such action against his father might well itself be regarded as ‘impious’. Euthyphro professes to be acting on esoteric knowledge about the gods and their wishes, and so about the general topic of ‘piety’. Socrates seizes the opportunity to acquire from Euthyphro this knowledge of piety so that he can rebut the accusations against himself. However, like all his other interlocutors in Plato’s ‘Socratic’ dialogues, Euthyphro cannot answer Socrates’ questions to Socrates’ satisfaction, or ultimately to his own. So he cannot make it clear what piety is—though he continues to think that he does know it. Thus, predictably, Socrates’ hopes are disappointed; just when he is ready to press further to help Euthyphro express his knowledge, if indeed he does possess it, Euthyphro begs off on the excuse of business elsewhere. Though Socrates does not succeed in his quest, we readers learn a good deal about the sort of thing Socrates is looking for in asking his question ‘What is piety?’ and the other ‘What is . . . ?’ questions he pursues in other dialogues. He wants a single ‘model’ or ‘standard’ he can look to in order to determine which acts and persons are pious, one that gives clear, unconflicting, and unambiguous answers. He wants something that can provide such a standard all on its own—as one of Euthyphro’s proposals, that being pious is simply being loved by the gods, cannot do, since one needs to know first what the gods do love. Pious acts and people may indeed be loved by the gods, but that is a secondary quality, not the ‘essence’ of piety—it is not that which serves as the standard being sought. There seems no reason to doubt the character Socrates’ sincerity in probing Euthyphro’s statements so as to work out an adequate answer—he has in advance no answer of his own to test out or to advocate. But does the dialogue itself suggest to the attentive reader an answer of its own? Euthyphro frustrates Socrates by his inability to develop adequately his final suggestion, that piety is justice in relation to the gods, in serving and assisting them in some purpose 1 2 Euthyphro or enterprise of their own. Socrates seems to find that an enticing idea. Does Plato mean to suggest that piety may be shown simply in doing one’s best to become as morally good as possible—something Socrates claims in the Apology the gods want more than anything else? If so, can piety remain an independent virtue at all, with its own separate standard for action? These are among the questions this dialogue leaves us to ponder. J.M.C. 2 b c d 3 EUTHYPHRO: What’s new, Socrates, to make you leave your usual haunts in the Lyceum and spend your time here by the king-archon’s court? Surely you are not prosecuting anyone before the king-archon as I am? SOCRATES: The Athenians do not call this a prosecution but an indictment, Euthyphro. EUTHYPHRO: What is this you say? Someone must have indicted you, for you are not going to tell me that you have indicted someone else. SOCRATES: No indeed. EUTHYPHRO: But someone else has indicted you? SOCRATES: Quite so. EUTHYPHRO: Who is he? SOCRATES: I do not really know him myself, Euthyphro. He is apparently young and unknown. They call him Meletus, I believe. He belongs to the Pitthean deme, if you know anyone from that deme called Meletus, with long hair, not much of a beard, and a rather aquiline nose. EUTHYPHRO: I don’t know him, Socrates. What charge does he bring against you? SOCRATES: What charge? A not ignoble one I think, for it is no small thing for a young man to have knowledge of such an important subject. He says he knows how our young men are corrupted and who corrupts them. He is likely to be wise, and when he sees my ignorance corrupting his contemporaries, he proceeds to accuse me to the city as to their mother. I think he is the only one of our public men to start out the right way, for it is right to care first that the young should be as good as possible, just as a good farmer is likely to take care of the young plants first, and of the others later. So, too, Meletus first gets rid of us who corrupt the young shoots, as he says, and then afterwards he will obviously take care of the older ones and become a source of great blessings for the city, as seems likely to happen to one who started out this way. EUTHYPHRO: I could wish this were true, Socrates, but I fear the opposite may happen. He seems to me to start out by harming the very heart of Translated by G.M.A. Grube. Euthyphro 3 the city by attempting to wrong you. Tell me, what does he say you do to corrupt the young? SOCRATES: Strange things, to hear him tell it, for he says that I am a maker of gods, and on the ground that I create new gods while not believing in the old gods, he has indicted me for their sake, as he puts it. EUTHYPHRO: I understand, Socrates. This is because you say that the divine sign keeps coming to you.1 So he has written this indictment against you as one who makes innovations in religious matters, and he comes to court to slander you, knowing that such things are easily misrepresented to the crowd. The same is true in my case. Whenever I speak of divine matters in the assembly and foretell the future, they laugh me down as if I were crazy; and yet I have foretold nothing that did not happen. Nevertheless, they envy all of us who do this. One need not worry about them, but meet them head-on. SOCRATES: My dear Euthyphro, to be laughed at does not matter perhaps, for the Athenians do not mind anyone they think clever, as long as he does not teach his own wisdom, but if they think that he makes others to be like himself they get angry, whether through envy, as you say, or for some other reason. EUTHYPHRO: I have certainly no desire to test their feelings towards me in this matter. SOCRATES: Perhaps you seem to make yourself but rarely available, and not be willing to teach your own wisdom, but I’m afraid that my liking for people makes them think that I pour out to anybody anything I have to say, not only without charging a fee but even glad to reward anyone who is willing to listen. If then they were intending to laugh at me, as you say they laugh at you, there would be nothing unpleasant in their spending their time in court laughing and jesting, but if they are going to be serious, the outcome is not clear except to you prophets. EUTHYPHRO: Perhaps it will come to nothing, Socrates, and you will fight your case as you think best, as I think I will mine. SOCRATES: What is your case, Euthyphro? Are you the defendant or the prosecutor? EUTHYPHRO: The prosecutor. SOCRATES: Whom do you prosecute? EUTHYPHRO: One whom I am thought crazy to prosecute. SOCRATES: Are you pursuing someone who will easily escape you? EUTHYPHRO: Far from it, for he is quite old. SOCRATES: Who is it? EUTHYPHRO: My father. SOCRATES: My dear sir! Your own father? EUTHYPHRO: Certainly. 1. See Apology 31d. b c d e 4 4 b c d e 5 b Euthyphro SOCRATES: What is the charge? What is the case about? EUTHYPHRO: Murder, Socrates. SOCRATES: Good heavens! Certainly, Euthyphro, most men would not know how they could do this and be right. It is not the part of anyone to do this, but of one who is far advanced in wisdom. EUTHYPHRO: Yes, by Zeus, Socrates, that is so. SOCRATES: Is then the man your father killed one of your relatives? Or is that obvious, for you would not prosecute your father for the murder of a stranger. EUTHYPHRO: It is ridiculous, Socrates, for you to think that it makes any difference whether the victim is a stranger or a relative. One should only watch whether the killer acted justly or not; if he acted justly, let him go, but if not, one should prosecute, if, that is to say, the killer shares your hearth and table. The pollution is the same if you knowingly keep company with such a man and do not cleanse yourself and him by bringing him to justice. The victim was a dependent of mine, and when we were farming in Naxos he was a servant of ours. He killed one of our household slaves in drunken anger, so my father bound him hand and foot and threw him in a ditch, then sent a man here to inquire from the priest what should be done. During that time he gave no thought or care to the bound man, as being a killer, and it was no matter if he died, which he did. Hunger and cold and his bonds caused his death before the messenger came back from the seer. Both my father and my other relatives are angry that I am prosecuting my father for murder on behalf of a murderer when he hadn’t even killed him, they say, and even if he had, the dead man does not deserve a thought, since he was a killer. For, they say, it is impious for a son to prosecute his father for murder. But their ideas of the divine attitude to piety and impiety are wrong, Socrates. SOCRATES: Whereas, by Zeus, Euthyphro, you think that your knowledge of the divine, and of piety and impiety, is so accurate that, when those things happened as you say, you have no fear of having acted impiously in bringing your father to trial? EUTHYPHRO: I should be of no use, Socrates, and Euthyphro would not be superior to the majority of men, if I did not have accurate knowledge of all such things. SOCRATES: It is indeed most important, my admirable Euthyphro, that I should become your pupil, and as regards this indictment, challenge Meletus about these very things and say to him: that in the past too I considered knowledge about the divine to be most important, and that now that he says that I am guilty of improvising and innovating about the gods I have become your pupil. I would say to him: “If, Meletus, you agree that Euthyphro is wise in these matters, consider me, too, to have the right beliefs and do not bring me to trial. If you do not think so, then prosecute that teacher of mine, not me, for corrupting the older men, me and his own father, by teaching me and by exhorting and punishing him.” If he Euthyphro 5 is not convinced, and does not discharge me or indict you instead of me, I shall repeat the same challenge in court. EUTHYPHRO: Yes, by Zeus, Socrates, and, if he should try to indict me, I think I would find his weak spots and the talk in court would be about him rather than about me. SOCRATES: It is because I realize this that I am eager to become your pupil, my dear friend. I know that other people as well as this Meletus do not even seem to notice you, whereas he sees me so sharply and clearly that he indicts me for ungodliness. So tell me now, by Zeus, what you just now maintained you clearly knew: what kind of thing do you say that godliness and ungodliness are, both as regards murder and other things; or is the pious not the same and alike in every action, and the impious the opposite of all that is pious and like itself, and everything that is to be impious presents us with one form or appearance in so far as it is impious? EUTHYPHRO: Most certainly, Socrates. SOCRATES: Tell me then, what is the pious, and what the impious, do you say? EUTHYPHRO: I say that the pious is to do what I am doing now, to prosecute the wrongdoer, be it about murder or temple robbery or anything else, whether the wrongdoer is your father or your mother or anyone else; not to prosecute is impious. And observe, Socrates, that I can cite powerful evidence that the law is so. I have already said to others that such actions are right, not to favor the ungodly, whoever they are. These people themselves believe that Zeus is the best and most just of the gods, yet they agree that he bound his father because he unjustly swallowed his sons, and that he in turn castrated his father for similar reasons. But they are angry with me because I am prosecuting my father for his wrongdoing. They contradict themselves in what they say about the gods and about me. SOCRATES: Indeed, Euthyphro, this is the reason why I am a defendant in the case, because I find it hard to accept things like that being said about the gods, and it is likely to be the reason why I shall be told I do wrong. Now, however, if you, who have full knowledge of such things, share their opinions, then we must agree with them, too, it would seem. For what are we to say, we who agree that we ourselves have no knowledge of them? Tell me, by the god of friendship, do you really believe these things are true? EUTHYPHRO: Yes, Socrates, and so are even more surprising things, of which the majority has no knowledge. SOCRATES: And do you believe that there really is war among the gods, and terrible enmities and battles, and other such things as are told by the poets, and other sacred stories such as are embroidered by good writers and by representations of which the robe of the goddess is adorned when it is carried up to the Acropolis? Are we to say these things are true, Euthyphro? c d e 6 b c 6 d e 7 b c Euthyphro EUTHYPHRO: Not only these, Socrates, but, as I was saying just now, I will, if you wish, relate many other things about the gods which I know will amaze you. SOCRATES: I should not be surprised, but you will tell me these at leisure some other time. For now, try to tell me more clearly what I was asking just now, for, my friend, you did not teach me adequately when I asked you what the pious was, but you told me that what you are doing now, in prosecuting your father for murder, is pious. EUTHYPHRO: And I told the truth, Socrates. SOCRATES: Perhaps. You agree, however, that there are many other pious actions. EUTHYPHRO: There are. SOCRATES: Bear in mind then that I did not bid you tell me one or two of the many pious actions but that form itself that makes all pious actions pious, for you agreed that all impious actions are impious and all pious actions pious through one form, or don’t you remember? EUTHYPHRO: I do. SOCRATES: Tell me then what this form itself is, so that I may look upon it and, using it as a model, say that any action of yours or another’s that is of that kind is pious, and if it is not that it is not. EUTHYPHRO: If that is how you want it, Socrates, that is how I will tell you. SOCRATES: That is what I want. EUTHYPHRO: Well then, what is dear to the gods is pious, what is not is impious. SOCRATES: Splendid, Euthyphro! You have now answered in the way I wanted. Whether your answer is true I do not know yet, but you will obviously show me that what you say is true. EUTHYPHRO: Certainly. SOCRATES: Come then, let us examine what we mean. An action or a man dear to the gods is pious, but an action or a man hated by the gods is impious. They are not the same, but quite opposite, the pious and the impious. Is that not so? EUTHYPHRO: It is indeed. SOCRATES: And that seems to be a good statement? EUTHYPHRO: I think so, Socrates. SOCRATES: We have also stated that the gods are in a state of discord, that they are at odds with each other, Euthyphro, and that they are at enmity with each other. Has that, too, been said? EUTHYPHRO: It has. SOCRATES: What are the subjects of difference that cause hatred and anger? Let us look at it this way. If you and I were to differ about numbers as to which is the greater, would this difference make us enemies and angry with each other, or would we proceed to count and soon resolve our difference about this? EUTHYPHRO: We would certainly do so. Euthyphro 7 SOCRATES: Again, if we differed about the larger and the smaller, we would turn to measurement and soon cease to differ. EUTHYPHRO: That is so. SOCRATES: And about the heavier and the lighter, we would resort to weighing and be reconciled. EUTHYPHRO: Of course. SOCRATES: What subject of difference would make us angry and hostile to each other if we were unable to come to a decision? Perhaps you do not have an answer ready, but examine as I tell you whether these subjects are the just and the unjust, the beautiful and the ugly, the good and the bad. Are these not the subjects of difference about which, when we are unable to come to a satisfactory decision, you and I and other men become hostile to each other whenever we do? EUTHYPHRO: That is the difference, Socrates, about those subjects. SOCRATES: What about the gods, Euthyphro? If indeed they have differences, will it not be about these same subjects? EUTHYPHRO: It certainly must be so. SOCRATES: Then according to your argument, my good Euthyphro, different gods consider different things to be just, beautiful, ugly, good, and bad, for they would not be at odds with one another unless they differed about these subjects, would they? EUTHYPHRO: You are right. SOCRATES: And they like what each of them considers beautiful, good, and just, and hate the opposites of these? EUTHYPHRO: Certainly. SOCRATES: But you say that the same things are considered just by some gods and unjust by others, and as they dispute about these things they are at odds and at war with each other. Is that not so? EUTHYPHRO: It is. SOCRATES: The same things then are loved by the gods and hated by the gods, and would be both god-loved and god-hated. EUTHYPHRO: It seems likely. SOCRATES: And the same things would be both pious and impious, according to this argument? EUTHYPHRO: I’m afraid so. SOCRATES: So you did not answer my question, you surprising man. I did not ask you what same thing is both pious and impious, and it appears that what is loved by the gods is also hated by them. So it is in no way surprising if your present action, namely punishing your father, may be pleasing to Zeus but displeasing to Cronus and Uranus, pleasing to Hephaestus but displeasing to Hera, and so with any other gods who differ from each other on this subject. EUTHYPHRO: I think, Socrates, that on this subject no gods would differ from one another, that whoever has killed anyone unjustly should pay the penalty. d e 8 b 8 c d e 9 b c Euthyphro SOCRATES: Well now, Euthyphro, have you ever heard any man maintaining that one who has killed or done anything else unjustly should not pay the penalty? EUTHYPHRO: They never cease to dispute on this subject, both elsewhere and in the courts, for when they have committed many wrongs they do and say anything to avoid the penalty. SOCRATES: Do they agree they have done wrong, Euthyphro, and in spite of so agreeing do they nevertheless say they should not be punished? EUTHYPHRO: No, they do not agree on that point. SOCRATES: So they do not say or do just anything. For they do not venture to say this, or dispute that they must not pay the penalty if they have done wrong, but I think they deny doing wrong. Is that not so? EUTHYPHRO: That is true. SOCRATES: Then they do not dispute that the wrongdoer must be punished, but they may disagree as to who the wrongdoer is, what he did, and when. EUTHYPHRO: You are right. SOCRATES: Do not the gods have the same experience, if indeed they are at odds with each other about the just and the unjust, as your argument maintains? Some assert that they wrong one another, while others deny it, but no one among gods or men ventures to say that the wrongdoer must not be punished. EUTHYPHRO: Yes, that is true, Socrates, as to the main point. SOCRATES: And those who disagree, whether men or gods, dispute about each action, if indeed the gods disagree. Some say it is done justly, others unjustly. Is that not so? EUTHYPHRO: Yes, indeed. SOCRATES: Come now, my dear Euthyphro, tell me, too, that I may become wiser, what proof you have that all the gods consider that man to have been killed unjustly who became a murderer while in your service, was bound by the master of his victim, and died in his bonds before the one who bound him found out from the seers what was to be done with him, and that it is right for a son to denounce and to prosecute his father on behalf of such a man. Come, try to show me a clear sign that all the gods definitely believe this action to be right. If you can give me adequate proof of this, I shall never cease to extol your wisdom. EUTHYPHRO: This is perhaps no light task, Socrates, though I could show you very clearly. SOCRATES: I understand that you think me more dull-witted than the jury, as you will obviously show them that these actions were unjust and that all the gods hate such actions. EUTHYPHRO: I will show it to them clearly, Socrates, if only they will listen to me. SOCRATES: They will listen if they think you show them well. But this thought came to me as you were speaking, and I am examining it, saying to myself: “If Euthyphro shows me conclusively that all the gods consider Euthyphro 9 such a death unjust, to what greater extent have I learned from him the nature of piety and impiety? This action would then, it seems, be hated by the gods, but the pious and the impious were not thereby now defined, for what is hated by the gods has also been shown to be loved by them.” So I will not insist on this point; let us assume, if you wish, that all the gods consider this unjust and that they all hate it. However, is this the correction we are making in our discussion, that what all the gods hate is impious, and what they all love is pious, and that what some gods love and others hate is neither or both? Is that how you now wish us to define piety and impiety? EUTHYPHRO: What prevents us from doing so, Socrates? SOCRATES: For my part nothing, Euthyphro, but you look whether on your part this proposal will enable you to teach me most easily what you promised. EUTHYPHRO: I would certainly say that the pious is what all the gods love, and the opposite, what all the gods hate, is the impious. SOCRATES: Then let us again examine whether that is a sound statement, or do we let it pass, and if one of us, or someone else, merely says that something is so, do we accept that it is so? Or should we examine what the speaker means? EUTHYPHRO: We must examine it, but I certainly think that this is now a fine statement. SOCRATES: We shall soon know better whether it is. Consider this: Is the pious being loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is being loved by the gods? EUTHYPHRO: I don’t know what you mean, Socrates. SOCRATES: I shall try to explain more clearly: we speak of something carried and something carrying, of something led and something leading, of something seen and something seeing, and you understand that these things are all different from one another and how they differ? EUTHYPHRO: I think I do. SOCRATES: So there is also something loved and—a different thing— something loving. EUTHYPHRO: Of course. SOCRATES: Tell me then whether the thing carried is a carried thing because it is being carried, or for some other reason? EUTHYPHRO: No, that is the reason. SOCRATES: And the thing led is so because it is being led, and the thing seen because it is being seen? EUTHYPHRO: Certainly. SOCRATES: It is not being seen because it is a thing seen but on the contrary it is a thing seen because it is being seen; nor is it because it is something led that it is being led but because it is being led that it is something led; nor is something being carried because it is something carried, but it is something carried because it is being carried. Is what I want to say clear, Euthyphro? I want to say this, namely, that if anything is being changed d e 10 b c 10 d e 11 Euthyphro or is being affected in any way, it is not being changed because it is something changed, but rather it is something changed because it is being changed; nor is it being affected because it is something affected, but it is something affected because it is being affected.2 Or do you not agree? EUTHYPHRO: I do. SOCRATES: Is something loved either something changed or something affected by something? EUTHYPHRO: Certainly. SOCRATES: So it is in the same case as the things just mentioned; it is not being loved by those who love it because it is something loved, but it is something loved because it is being loved by them? EUTHYPHRO: Necessarily. SOCRATES: What then do we say about the pious, Euthyphro? Surely that it is being loved by all the gods, according to what you say? EUTHYPHRO: Yes. SOCRATES: Is it being loved because it is pious, or for some other reason? EUTHYPHRO: For no other reason. SOCRATES: It is being loved then because it is pious, but it is not pious because it is being loved? EUTHYPHRO: Apparently. SOCRATES: And yet it is something loved and god-loved because it is being loved by the gods? EUTHYPHRO: Of course. SOCRATES: Then the god-loved is not the same as the pious, Euthyphro, nor the pious the same as the god-loved, as you say it is, but one differs from the other. EUTHYPHRO: How so, Socrates? SOCRATES: Because we agree that the pious is being loved for this reason, that it is pious, but it is not pious because it is being loved. Is that not so? EUTHYPHRO: Yes. SOCRATES: And that the god-loved, on the other hand, is so because it is being loved by the gods, by the very fact of being loved, but it is not being loved because it is god-loved. EUTHYPHRO: True. SOCRATES: But if the god-loved and the pious were the same, my dear Euthyphro, then if the pious was being loved because it was pious, the god-loved would also be being loved because it was god-loved; and if the god-loved was god-loved because it was being loved by the gods, then 2. Here Socrates gives the general principle under which, he says, the specific cases already examined—those of leading, carrying, and seeing—all fall. It is by bein