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Complete Works by Plato
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Feb 22, 10

bookshelves: greek

In Greek literature, there are many authors whose substantive ideas and technical literary skills are breathtaking. Purely in terms of influence -- by which I mean the degree to which a particular author has reconfigured the intellectual landscape for future generations -- it is undisputed that the two greatest writers in the Greek literary tradition are Homer and Plato. Plato took philosophy to an entirely new level, and few if any philosophers who wrote subsequently have matched the extraordinary artistry that marks everything he touched.

He was of course intimately familiar with the entire literary tradition that preceded him, and chose the dialogue as the vehicle for expounding his ideas. The dialogue is by definition a dramatic medium, and Plato exploits its possibilities in many ingenious ways.

Plato wrote at a time when human knowledge had yet to become fragmented, and this is what makes reading his work so exciting. He was interested in a wide range of subjects that today go by the names of psychology, sociology, metaphysics, ethics, political science, education, linguistics, epistemology, anthropology, jurisprudence, and much else besides.

This much, if nothing more, must be observed about Plato: he is a consummate literary artist, and his prose is the best there is in Greek. The give and take between speaking participants and the soaring flights of his most awe-inspiring passages hold up well in translation, and this volume in particular contains versions that are faithful to the original Greek without being stilted or prosaic.
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