Plato. The Academy.

The Perseus Digital Library went online in 1995. The development of the library began in 1987. Yale University Press published CD versions in 1992 and 1996.

Before that, we had to rely on books.

First page of the Phaedo (book four in the first tetralogy).

"Were you yourself, Phaedo, with Socrates on the day when he drank the poison in prison (αὐτός, ὦ Φαίδων, παρεγένου Σωκράτει ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ᾗ τὸ φάρμακον ἔπιεν ἐν τῷ δεσμωτηρίῳ) ...."

Platonis Opera, Tomvs I. Tetralogia I-II Continens. Edited by John Burnet. Oxford University Press, 1900.

(The yellow bottom left is from spilt coffee I tried to wipe from the page. I bought the book in graduate school.)

A new edition came out in 1995: Platonis Opera, Tomus. I. Tetralogias I-II Continens. Edited by E. A. Duke, W. F. Hicken, W. S. M. Nicoll, D. B. Robinson & J. C. G. Strachan). Oxford University Press.

"[T]he last of the Pythagoreans... were Xenophilus from the Thracian Chalcidice, Phanton of Phlius, and Echecrates, Diocles and Polymnastus, also of Phlius, who were pupils of Philolaus and Eurytus of Tarentum" (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers VIII.46).

"Phaedo was a native of Elis, of noble family, who on the fall of that city was taken captive and forcibly consigned to a house of ill-fame. But he would close the door and so contrive to join Socrates’ circle, and in the end Socrates induced Alcibiades or Crito with their friends to ransom him; from that time onwards he studied philosophy as became a free man" (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers II.105).
Plato nowhere explains why he writes what he does, but it is easy to get the impression that his use of the character Socrates in the Phaedo and Republic (which traditionally are middle dialogues) marks a new phase in his effort to understand the historical Socrates and his love of wisdom.

Socrates continues in his role as chief interlocutor in these dialogues, but he no longer just asks questions as he does in the traditionally early dialogues. Now he argues for views. In particular, he argues for the views that have come be known in the secondary literature as

• The Theory of Recollection
• The Theory of Forms
• The Tripartite Theory of the Soul
• The Theory of Justice.

Textual Evidence for the Platonic Theories

The dialogues in which these theories appear are the Meno, Phaedo, and Republic. (The Meno is a transitional dialogue. It shares features with both the early and the middle dialogues.) These dialogues are difficult, and it is not feasible to read them in their entirety in the short time allotted in a semester class. Some of the more important passages are collected below.

Sets of Selected Passages

The selection of passages that follow constitute the focus in the unit. Read the lectures first.

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