Commentary

[in chronological order]

Leo Strauss on Plato’s Republic

- Strauss, Leo. "Transcript of Seminar on Plato's Republic." University of Chicago, 1957. Leo Strauss Archives. http://leostrausscenter.uchicago.edu/course/republic
A transcript of a seminar given by Leo Strauss at the University of Chicago in 1957 on Plato’s Republic. Excerpt: Leo Strauss:. . . [The Greek title of Plato’s Republic is politeia.] This word is ordinarily translated as constitution. This means… More

Plato’s Parmenides: A Sketch

- Benardete, Seth, "Plato's Parmenides: A Sketch," The Archaeology of the Soul: Platonic Readings in Ancient Poetry and Philosophy, ed. Ronna Burger and Michael Davis, St. Augustine Press, 2012.

Eidos and Diaeresis in Plato’s Statesman

- Benardete, Seth, "Eidos and Diaeresis in Plato's Statesman," The Archaeology of the Soul: Platonic Readings in Ancient Poetry and Philosophy, ed. Ronna Burger and Michael Davis, St. Augustine Press, 2012.

Divine Law and Political Philosophy in Plato’s Laws

- Lutz, Mark J., Divine Law and Political Philosophy in Plato’s Laws, DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 2012.
About the Book: All over the world secular rationalist governments and judicial authorities have been challenged by increasingly forceful claims made on behalf of divine law. For those who believe that reason—not faith—should be the basis of politics and… More

Understanding Plato by Mark Blitz

- Blitz, Mark "Understanding Plato: Beauty and the Greater Hippias," Paper delivered at the Program on Constitutional Government at Harvard University in October, 2011.
First lines: Why should we bother to understand Plato? The reason is that he is an intelligent man who offers the first comprehensive rational reflection on human affairs, happiness, and its connection to politics. Much of what he says is therefore likely to… More

On Translating the Sophist

- Brann, Eva, "On Translating the Sophist," The Music of the Republic: Essays on Socrates' Conversations and Plato's Writings, Philadelphia: Paul Dry Books, 2011, 304-20.
Excerpt: In 1995, I was asked by the series adviser Keith Whitaker to do a translation for the nascent Focus Philosophical Library; Plato was suggested as a possibility. The Focus Press under its editor Ron Pullins publishes fresh translations, intended to be… More

Nonbeing Enfolded in Being: The Sophist

- Brann, Eva, "Nonbeing Enfolded in Being: The Sophist," The Music of the Republic: Essays on Socrates' Conversations and Plato's Writings, Philadelphia: Paul Dry Books, 2011, 294-303.
Excerpt: Parmenides’ discovery of Being as One and as the one and only truth is, I think, the primordial event of First Philosophy. But in named Nonbeing so as to proscribe it as unthinkable and unsayable, he establishes it—an unintended… More

Introduction to the Sophist

- Brann, Eva, "Introduction to the Sophist," The Music of the Republic: Essays on Socrates' Conversations and Plato's Writings, Philadelphia: Paul Dry Books, 2011, 278-93.
Excerpt: The drama of the Sophist is part of a continuing conversation. Three of its participants had talked the day before: Socrates who is known to the world as a philosopher; the brilliant young geometer Theaetetus who so uncannily resembles the ugly… More

Knowledge and Politics: The Statesman

- Mark Blitz, "Knowledge and Politics, The Statesman," Plato's Political Philosophy, Johns Hopkins Press, 2010.
Excerpt: “The Statesman directly follows the Sophist. Its purpose is to define the politikos whom we may call the statesman, the political man, the political scientist, or the political knower. It means especially to explore the place of knowledge in… More

Philosophy and Politics: The Republic

- Blitz, Mark, "Philosophy and Politics: The Republic," Plato's Political Philosophy, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010, 166-90.
Excerpt: We have now discussed several experiences that are at the root of philosophy, and a phenomenon, beauty, that helps to define both ethical and intellectual virtue. It is therefore reasonable to turn next to Plato’s Republic. For, beyond any… More

Major Works

Introduction to Plato’s Political Theory

- Recommended translation: Plato: "Protagoras" and "Meno,"  trans. Robert C. Bartlett (Cornell, 2004).
 An Introduction to Plato’s Political Theory Plato famously remarks in his Second Letter that “no writing of Plato exists or ever will exist, but those now said to be his belong to a Socrates grown young and beautiful” (341c). Thirty-five dialogues… More

Symposium

- Recommended translations:
  • Plato's Symposium: A Translation with Commentaries by Allan Bloom and Seth Benardete, trans. Seth Benardete (University of Chicago Press, 1993, 2001).
  • "Symposium," trans. A. Nehamas and P. Woodruff in Plato: Complete Works, ed. J. M. Cooper (Hackett, 1997).
Excerpt: Apollodorus I believe I have got the story you inquire of pretty well by heart. The day before yesterday I chanced to be going up to town from my house in Phalerum, when one of my acquaintance caught sight of me from behind, some way off, and called… More

Parmenides

- Recommended translations:
  • Plato's Parmenides, trans. Samuel Scolnicov (Berkeley, 2003).
  • Plato's Parmenides,  trans. Albert Keith Whitaker (Focus, 1996).
  • "Parmenides," trans. M. L. Gill and Paul Ryan in Plato: Complete Works, ed. J. M. Cooper (Hackett, 1997).
Excerpt: Cephalus When we came from our home at Clazomenae to Athens, we met Adeimantus and Glaucon in the market-place. Adeimantus took me by the hand and said, “Welcome, Cephalus, if there is anything we can do for you here, let us know.” “Why,”… More

Statesman

- Recommended translation: "Statesman" in The Being of the Beautiful: Plato's Theaetetus, Sophist, and Statesman,  trans. Seth Benardete (University of Chicago Press: 1984).
Excerpt: Socrates Really I am greatly indebted to you, Theodorus, for my acquaintance with Theaetetus and with the Stranger, too. Theodorus Presently, Socrates, you will be three times as much indebted, when they have worked out the statesman and the… More

Sophist

- Recommended translation: "Sophist" in The Being of the Beautiful: Plato's Theaetetus, Sophist, and Statesman,  trans. Seth Benardete (University of Chicago Press: 1984).
About the dialogue: In the Sophist, which takes place the day after the Theaetetus and was written c. 360 BCE, Plato explores what constitutes sophistry and how sophists differ from philosophers and statesmen.

Theaetetus

- Recommended translation: "Theaetetus" in The Being of the Beautiful: Plato's Theaetetus, Sophist, and Statesman,  trans. Seth Benardete (University of Chicago Press: 1984).
About the dialogue: In the Theaetetus, Plato explores the nature of knowledge.

Phaedo

- Recommended translations: Phaedo, trans. G. M. A. Grube (Hackett: 1977) Phaedo, trans. E. Brann (Focus, 1998)
Excerpt: Echecrates Were you with Socrates yourself, Phaedo, on the day when he drank the poison in prison, or did you hear about it from someone else? Phaedo I was there myself, Echecrates. Echecrates Then what did he say before his death? and how did he… More

Republic

- Recommended translations:
  • The Republic of Plato,  trans. Allan Bloom (Basic Books, 1968).
  • Plato: The Republic, trans. Tom Griffith, ed. G. R. F. Ferrari (Cambridge, 2000).
Excerpt: “What you say is very fine indeed, Cephalus,” I said. “But as to this very thing, justice, shall we so simply assert that it is the truth and giving back what a man has taken from another, or is to do these very things sometimes just and… More

Timaeus

- Recommended translation: Timaeus, trans. Peter Kalkavage (Focus, 2001).
Excerpt: Socrates One, two, three,—but where, my dear Timaeus, is the fourth of our guests of yesterday, our hosts of today? Timaeus Some sickness has befallen him, Socrates; for he would never have stayed away from our gathering of his own free will.… More

Laws

- Recommended translation: The Laws of Plato, trans. Thomas L. Pangle (Basic, 1980; University of Chicago Press, 1988).
This is the best edition of the Laws available in English. Thomas L. Pangle’s edition also includes an extended interpretative essay that introduces the work. Excerpt: Athenian To whom do you ascribe the authorship of your legal arrangements, Strangers?… More

Multimedia

Ronna Burger on Plato’s Republic

- “Ronna Burger on Plato,” Great Thinkers original content. Uploaded August 13, 2015.  
Tulane University professor Ronna Burger discusses Plato, and particularly the Republic, with Bill Kristol.

Liberal Education and Plato’s Laws

- Robert Goldberg, "Liberal Education and Plato's Laws," PCG at Harvard University, April 2, 2015.
Robert Goldberg, a tutor at St. John’s College, presents on “liberal education and Plato’s Laws” at the Program on Constitutional Government at Harvard.

On the Relevance of Plato: The Republic

- Mark Blitz, "The Relevance of Plato," Thomas Aquinas College, March 27, 2015.
Mark Blitz, a professor political philosophy at Claremont McKenna College, lectures on the relevance of Plato, and particularly The Republic, at Thomas Aquinas College.

The Logos of Plato’s Laches

- Michael Davis, "The Logos of Plato's Laches," Catholic University of America, October 17, 2014.
A lecture by Michael Davis of Sarah Lawrence College at the Catholic University of America. From the Fall 2014 lecture series.  

Mark Blitz on Plato

- Mark Blitz on Ancient and Modern Political Philosophy, Conversations with Bill Kristol, August 18, 2014.
In this excerpt from Conversations with Bill Kristol, Mark Blitz, a professor of political philosophy at Claremont McKenna College, discusses how one should begin to study Plato. The entire conversation features an in-depth consideration of Plato, Aristotle,… More

Ancient and Medieval Philosophy

- O'Connor, David, "Ancient and Medieval Philosophy," iTunes University.
Course description: This course, led by Professor David O’Connor (Notre Dame), will concentrate on major figures and persistent themes in ancient and medieval philosophy. A balance will be sought between scope and depth, the latter ensured by a close… More

David Roochnik: Introduction to Greek Philosophy

- Roochnik, David, "Introduction to Greek Philosophy," The Great Courses, 24 lectures.
Course description: The first philosophers in Western history—the ancient Greeks—asked the most fundamental questions about human beings and their relationship to the world. More than 2,500 years later, the issues they pondered continue to challenge,… More

David Roochnik on Plato’s Republic

- Roochnik, David, "Plato's Republic," The Great Courses, 24 lectures.
Course description: It is the first work in the history of Western political philosophy and, arguably, the most influential—so influential that the entire European philosophical tradition has been described as being nothing more than a “series of… More

Steven B. Smith: Introduction to Political Philosophy

- Smith, Steven B., "Introduction to Political Philosophy," Open Yale Courses, 24 lectures, Fall 2006.
About the course: This course is intended as an introduction to political philosophy as seen through an examination of some of the major texts and thinkers of the Western political tradition. Three broad themes that are central to understanding political life… More

Masters of Greek Thought: Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle

- Masters of Greek Thought: Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle, a 36-lecture course taught by Professor Robert C. Bartlett, Boston College, provides a detailed analysis of the golden age of Athenian philosophy and the philosophical consequences that occurred when Socrates—followed first by his student Plato and then by Plato's own student Aristotle—permanently altered our approach to the most important questions humanity can pose.
Course description: For more than two millennia, philosophers have grappled with life’s most profound issues. It is easy to forget, however, that these “eternal” questions are not eternal at all; rather, they once had to be asked for the… More

Other Works

Letters

- Suggested translation: "Letters," Plato in Twelve Volumes, vol. 7, trans. R. G. Bury, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1966.
Excerpt: Plato to Dionysius wishes well-doing. After I had spent so long a time with you and was trusted above all others in my administration of your government, while you were enjoying the benefits I was enduring the slanders, grievous as they were. For I… More

Epinomis

- Recommended translation: "Epinomis," trans. W. R. M. Lamb in Plato in Twelve Volumes, vol. 9, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1925. 
Excerpt: Cleinias: True to our agreement, good sir, we have come all three—you and I and Megillus here—to consider in what terms we ought to describe that part of understanding which we say produces, when it so intends, the most excellent disposition of… More

Philebus

- Recommended translations:
  • The Tragedy and Comedy of Life: Plato's Philebus, trans. Seth Benardete (University of Chicago Press: 1991).
  • "Philebus," trans. D. Frede in Plato: Complete Works, ed. J. M. Cooper (Hackett, 1997).
 
Excerpt: Socrates Observe, then, Protarchus, what the doctrine is which you are now to accept from Philebus, and what our doctrine is, against which you are to argue, if you do not agree with it. Shall we make a brief statement of each of them? Protarchus By… More

Phaedrus

- Recommended translations:
  • The Rhetoric of Morality and Philosophy: Plato's Gorgias and Phaedrus, trans. Seth Benardete (University of Chicago Press, 1991, 2009).
  • "Phaedrus," trans. M. Nichols, A. Nehamas, and P. Woodruff in Plato: Complete Works, ed. J. M. Cooper (Hackett, 1997).
 
Excerpt: Socrates Dear Phaedrus, whither away, and where do you come from? Phaedrus From Lysias, Socrates, the son of Cephalus; and I am going for a walk outside the wall. For I spent a long time there with Lysias, sitting since early morning; and on the… More

Rival Lovers

- Recommended translation:
  • "Rival Lovers," trans. J. Leake in The Roots of Political Philosophy, ed. Thomas L. Pangle (Cornell, 1987).
Excerpt: Socrates I entered the grammar school of the teacher Dionysius, and saw there the young men who are accounted the most comely in form and of distinguished family, and their lovers. Now it chanced that two of the young people were disputing, but about… More

Protagoras

- Recommended translations:
  • Plato: "Protagoras" and "Meno", trans. Robert C. Bartlett (Cornell, 2004).
  • "Protagoras," trans. S. Lombardo and K. Bell in Plato: Complete Works, ed. J. M. Cooper (Hackett, 1997).
Excerpt: Friend Where have you been now, Socrates? Ah, but of course you have been in chase of Alcibiades and his youthful beauty! Well, only the other day, as I looked at him, I thought him still handsome as a man—for a man he is, Socrates, between you and… More

Theages

- Recommended translations:
  • "Theages," trans. T. Pangle in The Roots of Political Philosophy, ed. Thomas L. Pangle (Cornell, 1987).
  • "Theages," trans. N. Smith in Plato: Complete Works, ed. J. M. Cooper (Hackett, 1997).
Excerpt: Demodocus Socrates, I was wanting to have some private talk with you, if you had time to spare; even if there is some demand, which is not particularly important, on your time, do spare some, nevertheless, for me. Socrates Why, in any case I happen… More

Charmides

- Recommended Translations: "Charmides," trans. R. K. Sprague in Plato: Complete Works, ed. J. M. Cooper (Hackett, 1997). "Charmides," trans. Thomas and Grace West in Plato: Charmides. (Hackett, 1986).
Excerpt: We arrived yesterday evening from the army at Potidaea, and I sought with delight, after an absence of some time, my wonted conversations. Accordingly I went into the wrestling-school of Taureas, opposite the Queen’s shrine, and there I came… More

Hipparchus

- Recommended translations:
  • "Hipparchus," trans. Steven Forde in The Roots of Political Philosophy, ed. Thomas L. Pangle (Cornell, 1987).
  • "Hipparchus," trans. N. Smith in Plato: Complete Works, ed. J. M. Cooper (Hackett, 1997).
Excerpt: Socrates And what is love of gain? What can it be, and who are the lovers of gain? Friend In my opinion, they are those who think it worth while to make gain out of things of no worth. Socrates Is it your opinion that they know those things to be of… More

Cratylus

- Recommended translation: "Cratylus," trans. C. D. C. Reeve in Plato: Complete Works, ed. J. M. Cooper (Hackett, 1997).  
Excerpt: Hermogenes Here is Socrates; shall we take him as a partner in our discussion? Cratylus If you like. Hermogenes Cratylus, whom you see here, Socrates, says that everything has a right name of its own, which comes by nature, and that a name is not… More