The myths of Plato
The object of this volume is to furnish the reader with material for estimating the characteristics and influence of Plato the Mythologist, or Prophet, as distinguished from Plato the Dialectician, or Reasoner.
In order to effect this special object within a reasonable space, it was necessary to extract the Myths from the Dialogues in which they occur, with only the shortest possible indication of the Context in each case, and to confine the Observations to the Myths as individual pieces and as a series.
The reader, therefore, must not expect to find in the Observations on, say, the Phuedo Myth or the PhcLedrus Myth a Study of the Phaedo or the Phaedrus. The Greek text printed opposite the Translations and followed by them throughout, except in a few places where preferred readings are given in footnotes, is that of Stallbaum's Platonis Opera Omnia Uno Volumine Oomprehe'nsa (1867).
The Platonic Dialogue may be broadly described as a Drama in which speech is the action/ and Socrates and his companions are the actors.
The speech in which the action consists is mainly that of argumentative conversation in which, although Socrates or another may take a leading part, everybody has his say. The conversation or argument is always about matters which can be profitably discussed — that is, matters on which men from workaday opinions which discussion may show to be right or wrong, wholly or in part.
But it is only mainly that the Platonic Drama consists of an argumentative conversation. It contains another element, the Myth, which, though not ostensibly present in some Dialogues, is so striking in others, some of them the greatest, that we are compelled to regard it, equally with the argumentative conversation, as essential to Plato's philosophical style.
The Myth is a fanciful tale, sometimes traditional, some- times newly invented, with which Socrates or some other interlocutor interrupts or concludes the argumentative conversation in which the movement of the Drama mainly consists.
The object of this work is to examine the examples of the Platonic Myth in order to discover its function in the organism of the Platonic Drama. that Myth is an organic part of the Platonic Drama, not an added ornament, is a point about wl^ich the experienced reader of Plato can have no doubt. The Sophists probably ornamented their discourses and made.
Introduction.--The Phaedo myth.--The Gorgias myth.--The myth of Er.--The Politicus myth.--The Protagoras myth.--The Timaeus.--The Phaedrus myth.--The two Symposium myths. I. The myth told by Aristophanes. II. The discourse of Diotima.--General observations on myths which set forth the nation's, as distinguished from the individual's, ideals and categories.--The Atlantis myth.--The myth of the earth-born.--Conclusion: the mythology and metaphysics of the Cambridge Platonists
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