The Republic of Plato

The Republic of Plato

The Republic of Plato

The Republic of Plato

Synopsis

Essestially an inquiry into morality, the Republic is the central work of the Western world's most famous philosopher. Containing crucial arguments and insights into many other areas of philosophy, it is also a literary masterpiece: the philosophy is presented for the most part for ordinary readers, who are carried along by the wit and intensity of the dialogue and by Plato's unforgettable images of the human condition. This new, lucid translation is complemented by full explanatory notes and an up-to-date critical introduction.

Excerpt

This version aims at conveying to the English reader as much as possible of the thought of the Republic in the most convenient and least misleading form. I have, accordingly, taken certain liberties, which it is reasonable to suppose that Plato would have sanctioned in an edition prepared for the modern press. The traditional division into ten 'books,' i.e. papyrus rolls, has been discarded, as an accidental expedient of ancient book-production, having little more to do with the structure of the argument than the division of every Victorian novel into three volumes had to do with the structure of the stories. The dialogue falls naturally into six main parts, and these I have subdivided, where minor breaks occur, into forty chapters. The notes prefixed to the chapters are designed to hold the thread of the argument and to explain matters which Plato could take for granted as within the common knowledge of his readers. The sole purpose is to bring out what Plato meant, not to attack or defend his opinions. These are better left to the judgement of the reader. For sympathetic and more detailed interpretation, the best guide known to me is R. L. Nettleship's Lectures on the Republic of Plato. Professor Ernest Barker's Greek Political Theory (1918) reviews all Plato's works and the speculations of his predecessors in this field. In Plato To-day Mr. R. H. S. Crossman has made a lively and provocative experiment in confronting Plato with the political problems of the present day.

Some authors can be translated almost word for word. The reader may fairly claim to be told why this method cannot do justice to the matter and the manner of Plato's discourse. In brief, the answer is that in many places the effect in English is misleading, or tedious, or grotesque and silly, or pompous and verbose. Since no scholar would apply most of these epithets to the original, there must be something wrong with the current practice of translators.

Many key-words, such as 'music,' 'gymnastic,' 'virtue,' 'philo.

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