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complete and accurate portraiture of the character, feelings, and philosophy of Socrates. Supported through his trial by a sense of the duty which he owed himself, as conscious of his innocence; enduring his imprisonment, from a sense of duty towards the laws of his country, and contemplating his appointed death, as a duty which he owed the Deity, and ought cheerfully to pay, he has left upon record an example of wisdom, fortitude, resignation, and piety, for which the annals of heathenism supply no parallel.
In preparing the following work for publication, the Editor has endeavoured to avail himself of the able exertions of preceding commentators. His object has been to select and condense the most valuable information which they severally afford, and where the necessary limits of the work interfered with the more copious discussion of any subject occurring throughout its course, sufficient has been said for immediate explanation, and the more inquiring student is referred to the authorities by whom it has been argued and developed at more considerable and satisfactory length.
The text of Bekker has been adopted, with but two or three, and these unimportant changes. Those who are desirous of collating the various readings in the several editions of the Apology, Crito, and Phædo, are referred to Priestley's Plato; the Editor of the present work having noticed very few, and those only by which the sense of any passage was manifestly influenced or altered his wish having been to secure, in the first instance, an approved and corrected text, and then illus
trate his author, rather than to crowd his annotations with minute and unnecessary discrepancies, which, however curious, are but little instructive, and by which commentators are too often led, in their conjectures as to what might have possibly been written, to overlook the more important consideration of the sense of the passage as it stands.
The Notes have been compiled principally from Bekker's edition of the Complete Works of Plato, comprising the greater number of commentaries hitherto published, which will be found detailed at length in the Prolegomena, and from the edition of the Apology, Crito, and Phædo, by G. Stallbaum, Goth. et Erford. 1833. The Editor has availed himself also, in many instances, of M. Victor Cousin's French Translation of Plato, which is accompanied by philosophical arguments, and historical and philological notes. This eminent writer who has confessedly attained to the highest rank amongst the professors of metaphysical science, has promised an introductory volume to the above work, containing an account of the Platonic philosophy, a desideratum which could not be more efficiently supplied.
In compliance with the desire of the Publishers, a Latin version has been annexed, that of Marsilius Ficinus, a Florentine, born A. D. 1433, and educated by Pletho, under the patronage of Cosmo di Medici, for the express purpose of translating the writings, and reviving the philosophy of Plato. It has undergone several requisite corrections by subsequent hands, and is generally considered a faithful version,
though far from elegant, or in any degree suitable to the original either in spirit or strength.
For the use of the new fount of Greek type in the University Press, the Editor begs to acknowledge his obligations to the Provost, by whom it was kindly allowed.
18, TRINITY College,
PLATO was born of Athenian parents, Aristo and Perictione, in the island of Ægina, where his father resided after it had become subject to Athens. The time of his birth is generally fixed in the third or fourth year of the 87th Olympiad, 430 or 429 B. C. On his father's side his origin is traced to Codrus, and on his mother's through five generations to the family of Solon. In early lifed he
a Compiled principally from Enfield's History of Philosophy; Stanley's History of Philosophy, folio, 1687; Tennenann's Manual of Philosophy; the Encyclop. Metropol. Art. Plato; J. A. Fabric. Dissert. de Plat. ejusque Scriptis, &c.; and Biographie Universelle, Ancienne et Moderne. Paris, 1823.
b His real name was Aristocles: the various conjectures as to the cause of its having been changed, Brucker looks upon as uncertain and vague.
c According to Corsin. and Fabric. on the 7th of Thargelion, 430 B. C. in the third year of the 87th Olymp.; according to Dodwell a year later; to Dacier, in the first of the 88th Olymp., upon the authority of Diog. Laert. But the first date assigned, besides being in accordance with other circumstances, is supported by a paramount authority, Athen. Deipnosoph. 1. v. A. 13.
d The birth of Plato is said to have been accompanied by a number of prodigies, which doubtless owed their origin to the subsequent development of his character
devoted himself with great assiduity to the study of poetry, in which, as in the sister arts of music and painting, he made such progress as might be expected from a vivid imagination, exquisite sensibility, and a richly cultivated taste. His efforts in lyric, epic, and dramatic composition were far from unsuccessful, but with a modest distrust of his own poetical powers he committed an epic of some length to the flames upon his perusing the Iliad of Homer, and destroyed an elaborate effusion of his tragic muse upon hearing a discourse of Socrates, which prevailed in awakening his feelings to a sense of a more sublime and important pursuit.
It is probable, that Plato received the first rudiments of his philosophical education from Cratylus and Hermogenes, who inculcated the systems of Heraclitus and Parmenides. At the age of twenty years he became a disciple of Socrates, and continued with him for eight years, till that great and amiable philosopher fell a sacrifice to the rancour of party, disguised under the pretext of zeal for the national religion. By the advice of Socrates he resigned his poetical studies for the graver investigation of philosophical truths, to which he also sacrificed his early inclinations towards a public life, from which he was further diverted by a feeling of disgust, arising from the perpetual changes which took place in his time in the government of Greece, from the corruptions of the democracy, and the moral depravity of his countrymen.
While under the guidance and instruction of Socrates, Plato not unfrequently occasioned uneasiness to his fellow disciples and to
and attainments. Diogenes, Apuleius, Plutarch, and Lucian concur in the story of a swarm of bees having gathered round his cradle, and settled on his lips as he slept. This was not lost upon Cicero, de Divinat. lib. i. 36. “ Platoni cum in cunis parvulo dormienti apes in labellis consedissent, responsum est, singulari illum suavitate orationis fore, ita futura eloquentia provisa in infante est." It was also reported of him that he was born of a virgin mother, and that Apollo himself had condescended to become his father.
a This was a dramatic piece which he had composed at the age of twenty. It consisted of three distinct tragedies and one comedy, forming what the ancients called a tetralogy. He destroyed it the very day before its intended exhibition, from the cause as above.
b Apuleius de Dogmat. Plat. Arist. Met. f. c. 6.
Xenophon. Memorab. iii. 6.