Statesman

Statesman

Statesman

Statesman

Excerpt

The problem of dating the dialogues of Plato has vexed many generations of scholars, because the evidence depends primarily upon the dialogues themselves rather than upon external sources. Yet thanks to the meticulous investigations of Plato's style initiated by Lewis Campbell in his famous edition of the Sophist and the Statesman (1867), it has been possible to recognize three stylistic groups in the dialogues which follow one another chronologically. There is no longer any doubt that the Statesman belongs to the third and last of these groups, which also includes the Theaetetus, Sophist, Philebus, Timaeus, Critias, and the Laws.

Within this third group, the date of two dialogues can be fixed with some precision. It has been convincingly demonstrated that the Theaetetus was written shortly after 369 B.C., and we know from ancient sources that the Laws was Plato's last work and that he left it unfinished when he died in 347 B.C. Moreover, there are passages in the Statesman which imply that the Sophist had already been published. There are also hints that the Theaetetus, Sophist, and Statesman, together with a projected but unexecuted dialogue on the Philosopher, were to form a thematic unit. If this sequence ena-

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