Philebus and Epinomis

Philebus and Epinomis

Philebus and Epinomis

Philebus and Epinomis

Excerpt

It can be taken as now definitely established by the modern minute study of Plato's style that the Philebus is among the latest of his dialogues. It belongs to the group, apparently opening with the Sophistes, in which Plato has abandoned his own earlier freer manner of composition, to follow the rule of avoidance of hiatus imposed on literary prose by Isocrates. Within this group, as is shown alike by the researches into vocabulary initiated by Lewis Campbell, and by that study of connective and adversative particles connected with the names of C. Ritter and others, it holds a late rather than an early place. Its linguistic affinities connect it closely with the Laws, and we have thus to think of it as composed certainly after 360 B.C., the year of Plato's final return from Syracuse and personal withdrawal from direct concern with the troubled politics of that city, and the composition must not be placed too early after that date. We are thus dealing with the thoughts of a man already, in all probability, more than seventy years old. This result is now so well made out that there is no need here to do more than record it, and there are other more general characteristics of the dialogue which point to the same conclusion.

Though the conversational form is still retained, we are more aware of its artificiality in the case of the Philebus than in that of any other Platonic work except the Laws and the Timaeus (in the latter of which there is, in fact, no dialogue at all after the main speaker has once embarked on his theme). We are reading what is substantially a continuous treatise; the interlocutors, for . . .

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