"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates's ancient words are still true, and the ideas sounded in Plato's Dialogues still form the foundation of a thinking person's education This superb collection contains excellent contemporary translations selected for their clarity and accessibility to today's reader, as well as an incisive introduction by Erich Segal, which reveals Plato's life and clarifies the philosophical issues examined in each dialogue. The first four dialogues recount the trial execution of Socrates--the extraordinary tragedy that changed Plato's life and so altered the course of Western though. Other dialogues create a rich tableau of intellectual life in Athens in the fourth century B.C., and examine the nature of virtue and love, knowledge and truth, society and the individual. Resounding with the humor and astounding brilliance of Socrates, the immortal iconoclast, these great works remain powerful, probing, and essential. From the Paperback edition.
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May 01, 1986
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Excerpt from The Dialogues of Plato by Plato
Translated by Benjamin Jowett
How you, O Athenians, have been affected by my accusers, I cannot tell; but I know that they almost made me forget who I was--so persuasively did they speak; and yet they have hardly uttered a word of truth. But of the many falsehoods told by them, there was one which quite amazed me;--I mean when they said that you should be upon your guard and not allow yourselves to be deceived by the force of my eloquence. To say this, when they were certain to be detected as soon as I opened my lips and proved myself to be anything but a great speaker, did indeed appear to me most shameless--unless by the force of eloquence they mean the force of truth; for if such is their meaning, I admit that I am eloquent. But in how different a way from theirs! Well, as I was saying, they have scarcely spoken the truth at all; but from me you shall hear the whole truth: not, however, delivered after their manner in a set oration duly ornamented with words and phrases. No, by heaven! but I shall use the words and arguments which occur to me at the moment; for I am confident in the justice of my cause:1 at my time of life I ought not to be appearing before you, O men of Athens, in the character of a juvenile orator--let no one expect it of me. And I must beg of you to grant me a favor:--If I defend myself in my accustomed manner, and you hear me using the words which I have been in the habit of using in the agora, at the tables of the money-changers, or anywhere else, I would ask you not to be surprised, and not to interrupt me on this account. For I am more than seventy years of age, and appearing now for the first time in a court of law, I am quite a stranger to the language of the place; and therefore I would have you regard me as if I were really a stranger, whom you would excuse if he spoke in his native tongue, and after the fashion of his country:--Am I making an unfair request of you? Never mind the manner, which may or may not be good; but think only of the truth of my words, and give heed to that: let the speaker speak truly and the judge decide justly.