Plato: Phaedo

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Clarendon Press, 1975 - Law - 245 pages
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Plato's Phaedo is deservedly one of the best known works of Greek literature, but also one of the most complex. Set in the prison where Socrates is awaiting execution, it portrays Plato's model philosopher in action, spending his last hours in conversation with two other seasoned members of his circle about the fate of the human soul after death. Professor Rowe attempts to help the reader find a way through the intricate structure both of individual passages and arguments and of the dialogue as a whole, stressing its intelligibility as a unified work of art and giving equal attention to its literary and philosophical aspects. The notes also aim to provide the kind of help with Plato's Greek which is needed by comparative beginners in the language, but the commentary is intended for any student, classical scholar, or philosopher with an interest in the close reading of Plato.

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About the author (1975)

Plato was born c. 427 B.C. in Athens, Greece, to an aristocratic family very much involved in political government. Pericles, famous ruler of Athens during its golden age, was Plato's step-father. Plato was well educated and studied under Socrates, with whom he developed a close friendship. When Socrates was publically executed in 399 B.C., Plato finally distanced himself from a career in Athenian politics, instead becoming one of the greatest philosophers of Western civilization. Plato extended Socrates's inquiries to his students, one of the most famous being Aristotle. Plato's The Republic is an enduring work, discussing justice, the importance of education, and the qualities needed for rulers to succeed. Plato felt governors must be philosophers so they may govern wisely and effectively. Plato founded the Academy, an educational institution dedicated to pursuing philosophic truth. The Academy lasted well into the 6th century A.D., and is the model for all western universities. Its formation is along the lines Plato laid out in The Republic. Many of Plato's essays and writings survive to this day. Plato died in 347 B.C. at the age of 80.

DAVID GALLOP is Professor of Philosophy (Emeritus) at Trent University.

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