I'm reading Plato Theaetetus translated by M. J. Levett and I need to find literary devices throughout the dialogue. Can you help with providing page numbers?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As your assignment is to read the book yourself, and as you are reading the book to note literary devices, giving you the precise page numbers of the literary devices in your translation would be unethical, as it would undermine the point of the assignment, which is to ensure that you read the dialogue in its entirety yourself. Instead, this answer will focus on helping you complete your assignment rather than completing it for you.

One of the great paradoxes one encounters when studying Plato is that his condemnation of the poets in Republic and Ion contrasts strikingly with his own literary craftsmanship. He himself uses a wide range of literary devices with outstanding skill.

Perhaps the most common devices Plato uses are simile and metaphor, making complex philosophical points by comparing abstract concepts to concrete ones. This device is not just literary, but also reflects Plato's own understanding of the phenomenal world as a corporeal instantiation of the noumenal one. In a sense, for Plato a real apple is a metaphor for the idea or form of the apple, with the form being the tenor and the physical fruit the vehicle.

The first important metaphor we find in Theaetetus is that of Socrates himself as a midwife of ideas. The second metaphor crucial to the ontological discussion is that of the Heraclitean river as a metaphor for becoming.

Another quite common literary device in the dialogue is one known variously as epanorthosis, metanoia, or correctio. This is a rhetorical form of self-correction, in which a speaker explicitly corrects his previous statements (e.g. by stating "We must have been wrong in claiming ..."). This is something found throughout Plato's dialogues and crucial to the understanding of Theaetetus. One good example of this is the way Socrates repeatedly refines his own explications of the homo-mensura fragment. After each reductio ad absurdum, he then corrects himself by arguing that since Protagoras would not have held such an absurd viewpoint, Socrates' own interpretations must be at fault. Socrates will then offer up a new interpretation.

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