Apology

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The Work

Initially, it is important to understand two things about the Apology . First, it is Plato’s dramatic, eyewitness account of the apology of his friend and teacher. Second, this apology is not an expression of regret for an error but a defense of Socrates’ conduct and whole way...

(The entire section contains 5227 words.)

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The Work

Initially, it is important to understand two things about the Apology. First, it is Plato’s dramatic, eyewitness account of the apology of his friend and teacher. Second, this apology is not an expression of regret for an error but a defense of Socrates’ conduct and whole way of life.

Background to the Trial

In 399 b.c.e., a seventy-year-old Athenian citizen named Socrates went on trial for allegedly disrespecting the gods and corrupting the youth of Athens. It is clear from both the text of the Apology itself and from external evidence that Socrates’ real “crime” was severely embarrassing important people in the Greek city-state by his habit of questioning them in public places with respect to matters about which they claimed expertise, exposing their true ignorance, and providing amusement to the onlookers who gathered to see the supposed experts confounded. Socrates regularly insisted that he was merely an earnest philosophical inquirer after truth asking those who presumably knew. In this insistence he was only half sincere. He was pursuing the truth, but he knew that his shallow interlocutors would fall victim to his superior logical and rhetorical skill. He chose the questioning method as an effective way of developing and presenting his own philosophy—a method later adopted in written form by Plato.

Socrates’ Defense

Plato’s account, the first literary “courtroom drama,” purports to be a verbatim record of Socrates’ defense. Far from corrupting youth by promoting atheism or belief in strange gods (for his accusers have vacillated on this point), Socrates explains that he philosophizes in obedience to a divine command. Since he has carried out his divine mission in a quasi-public way, Socrates feels obliged to explain why he has never made an effort to serve the state as an adviser, since the state would seem to need all the wisdom it can find. Here, he raises an ethical issue with which many later thinkers have struggled, including, notably, Sir Thomas More in his Utopia (1516).

Socrates has proclaimed himself a loyal Athenian. Why should not a loyal citizen use his primary talent for the benefit of the state? He argues that if he had gone into political life he would have long since “perished.” The struggle for the right in his mind required “a private station and not a public one.” He once held the office of senator and discovered that his efforts at promoting justice were futile and in fact on one occasion nearly cost him his life. He did not fear death, he explains, but realized that neither he “nor any other man” could effectively fight for the right in a political position. He could do Athens the greatest good in a private effort to inquire into virtue and wisdom. The state would profit most from citizens schooled in this sort of inquiry. He closes his defense by leaving the decision to the jury and to God.

Socrates’ Response

According to the rules of an Athenian trial, the jury of 501 men must decide his guilt or innocence by majority vote. His opponents have taken every advantage possible of the prevailing prejudice against Socrates as a “clever” intellectual skilled in “making the weaker case appear to stronger.” Such prejudice no doubt contributed substantially to what seems in retrospect a misguided verdict. Having been found guilty in a close vote, Socrates exercises his right to propose an alternative to the death penalty requested by the prosecution as a preliminary to the jury’s choice of one of the two proposed punishments. When asked for his counter-sentence, Socrates banteringly suggests that he should be honored, not punished, but finally proposes a token fine that he then raises somewhat at the urging of his friends, whose expressions of dismay actually interrupt the proceedings. They realize that he is in effect condemning himself to death, but Socrates considers that as an unjustly convicted man he should not be punished at all.

To have offered the kind of alternative his enemies undoubtedly expected—exile—would have amounted to a repudiation of his vocation. He is aware that nowhere else would he be free to exercise this vocation as he has been doing in Athens for years before his enemies’ conspiracy to silence him. To save his own life by leaving Athens or by accepting some other compromise such as agreeing to cease philosophizing would contradict the values that he has spent that life to date elucidating. Were he to compromise those values, he would give his shabby accusers a moral victory. Instead, he guarantees that his memory will be revered and—what surely is more important to him—that his work in pursuit of the truth will endure, thanks especially to Plato’s decision to publish it. (Socrates himself never transcribed his dialogues.)

After the jury’s inevitable vote in favor of the prosecution’s request for the death penalty, Socrates rebukes his judges as men more interested in escaping the pressure of the accusers than in giving an account of their own lives. He believes that he is going to “another world where they do not put a man to death for asking questions.” He does have a final request of them, however: that they punish his own still young sons if they show more interest in riches or anything else than in virtue. In this way, the judges can still do him and his sons justice.

Bibliography

Brumbaugh, Robert S. Plato for the Modern Age. New York: Crowell-Collier, 1962. A good introduction to Plato’s thought and the Greek world in which he developed it.

Copleston, Frederick. A History of Philosophy: Greece and Rome. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1969. Copleston devotes several clear chapters to a discussion of the full range of Plato’s view.

Cropsey, Joseph. Plato’s World: Man’s Place in the Cosmos. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. Discusses Plato’s views on human nature with attention to his political theories.

Friedlander, Paul. Plato. Translated by Hans Meyerhoff. New York: Harper & Row, 1964.

Plato. Apology. Chicago: Bolchazy-Carducci, 1981.

Gonzalez, Francisco, ed. The Third Way: New Directions in Platonic Studies. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1995. A helpful sampling of late twentieth century research on Plato, his continuing significance, and trends of interpretation in Platonic studies.

Irwin, Terrence. Plato’s Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. A thorough study of Plato’s moral philosophy, including its political implications.

Jones, W. T. The Classical Mind. Vol. 1 in A History of Western Philosophy. 2d ed. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1969. A reliable introduction to the main themes and issues on which Plato focused.

Kahn, Charles H. Plato and the Socratic Dialogue: The Philosophical Use of a Literary Form. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. A study of Plato’s use of the dialogue form as a means for exploring and developing key philosophical positions and dispositions.

Kraut, Richard, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Plato. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Eminent Plato scholars analyze and assess key Platonic dialogues and issues in Plato’s thought.

Moravcsik, J. M. E. Plato and Platonism: Plato’s Conception of Appearance and Reality in Ontology, Epistemology, and Ethics and Its Modern Echoes. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1992. A scholarly study of Plato’s key distinction between appearance and reality and the continuing impact of that distinction.

Pappas, Nikolas, ed. Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Plato and the “Republic.” New York: Routledge, 1995. Helpful articles that clarify key Platonic concepts and theories.

Reeve, C. D. C. Socrates in the Apology: An Essay on Plato’s Apology of Socrates. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1989.

Rutherford, R. B. The Art of Plato: Ten Essays in Platonic Interpretation. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995. Well-informed essays on key elements of Plato’s theories.

Sayers, Sean. Plato’s “Republic”: An Introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000. An accessible commentary on the works of the philosopher.

Shorey, Paul. What Plato Said. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978.

Tarrant, Harold. Plato’s First Interpreters. Ithica, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2000. An examination of the earliest debates about Plato’s ideas.

Taylor, A. E. Plato: The Man and His Work. 7th ed. London: Methuen, 1960.

Tuana, Nancy, ed. Feminist Interpretations of Plato. University Park: Pennsylvania State University, 1994. Scholarly essays evaluate Plato’s understanding of gender issues and appraise his philosophy from the perspectives of feminist theory.

Williams, Bernard A. O. Plato. New York: Routledge, 1999. An excellent biographical introduction to the thoughts of the philosopher, clearly presented. Bibliography.

Stephen Satris John K. Roth

Context

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The word “apology,” the title of this famous dialogue, means “a defense,” not a request for forgiveness. In meeting the accusation that he had corrupted the youth of Athens, Socrates did not for a moment assume an apologetic air, but with courageous faith in the worth of philosophy set forth the principles by which he governed his life.

The dialogue—the creation of Plato, who knew Socrates and had grown to love him both as a teacher and as a man—assumes the worth of Socrates’ life and the rightness of his acts, especially of those acts of criticism that aroused the enmity of Socrates’ accusers. Apology is one of three dialogues describing the final days of perhaps the greatest hero in the history of philosophy, one who took philosophy seriously enough to die for it. Here Plato reports the trial and condemnation of Socrates. Kritn (early period, 399-390 b.c.e.; Crito, 1804) reports his reasons for refusing to escape from prison, and Phaedn (middle period, 388-368 b.c.e.; Phaedo, 1675) his last conversations and death. To read the dialogues in that order is to gain some understanding of the significance of Socrates’ identification of wisdom with virtue, and some conception of the nobility of his character.

The Charges

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As Apology opens, the prosecution, for which Meletus is the spokesperson, has already stated its case. Meletus was probably merely the spokesperson for the chief instigator of the trial, Anytus, respected leader of the restored democracy; the third accuser, Lycon, is barely mentioned in the dialogue. Meletus speaks only a few words, and the other accusers none, but Socrates repeats the charges made against him. He begins by pointing out that almost everything they have said is false, especially their warning to the court implying that Socrates is a persuasive speaker, unless they mean by that one who speaks truth. His words will be unpremeditated but spoken with confidence in the justice of his cause; it is to truth that the jury should attend, just as it is the speaker’s duty to state only the truth. There are actually two sets of charges against him, Socrates says: the present ones of impiety and corruption of the young and some ancient ones his audience heard as children and that should now be refuted.

The latter were made by accusers largely unknown, except for Greek dramatist Aristophanes in his burlesque of Socrates in the comedy Nephelai (423 b.c.e.; The Clouds, 1708), which was written in fun rather than ill will. These accusations were that Socrates had theories about and conducted investigations into the heavens and things below the earth (that is, pursued physical sciences), and that he could make weaker arguments appear to overcome the stronger and taught others to do the same (that is, he was a Sophist). Such accusations are dangerous, Socrates argues, because uncritical listeners assume that such inquirers must be atheists. However, the accusations are false, for Socrates has no knowledge of physics, not from disdain but from lack of interest. Socrates asks whether anyone present ever heard him discussing these matters. As to the charge that he has taught others professionally for fees, this, too, is false. Socrates professes (ironically) to admire Sophists such as Gorgias, Prodicus, and Hippias, who are able to convince youths to forsake their usual company—which is free—and come to them for training in social skills—for large fees. Still, people will wonder how Socrates got this reputation if the accusations are false, so he will explain.

Perhaps he does have some degree of human wisdom, though that of the Sophists is undoubtedly superhuman. The tale he will tell now concerning the kind of wisdom he does have may seem exaggerated, but judgment should be reserved until the end. Chaerephon, an old friend known to all, asked the oracle at Delphi if anyone were wiser than Socrates, and the answer was no. Such an answer puzzled Socrates—surely the god was speaking in riddles, for he could not be lying. So Socrates set out to see whether he could disprove the oracle by finding a wiser person. He examined a politician with a great reputation for—and the conceit of—wisdom. Not only was the man not wise, but he resented Socrates’ attempt to show him that he was not. Socrates came away realizing that at least he was himself wiser in awareness of his own ignorance. Others who heard the politician’s examination resented the inquiry, too, but Socrates felt it a religious duty to determine the oracle’s meaning. Having queried other politicians with the same effect, he went next to the poets and found that they could not even expound their own works. Not wisdom, then, but instinct or inspiration must be the source of poetry. Proceeding to the skilled craftspeople, Socrates discovered here a kind of technical knowledge he did not possess, but these men prided themselves so on their special competence that they mistakenly thought themselves expert on everything else. Naturally, Socrates’ exposé of the ignorance of others made him unpopular with them, even though it was really to their good.

When bystanders heard him examine pretenders to wisdom, it was assumed that he had the knowledge, lack of which he uncovered in those questioned, even though this was not true. However, the real meaning of the oracle and the upshot of Socrates’ search was that God alone is really wise, and human wisdom is of relatively little value. The oracle used Socrates’ name merely to make a point: “The wisest of you men is he who has realized, like Socrates, that in respect of wisdom he is really worthless.” Thus in exposing ignorance, Socrates continues, he obeys a divine command.

Socrates tells the court that young men of leisure, having heard him questioning their elders to the latter’s discomfort, have tried to imitate his techniques and have aroused further hostility that has redounded to Socrates’ discredit. When victims irritated at exposure are asked what Socrates has done or taught to mislead the young, however, they have no specific evidence and so “they fall back on the stock charges against any philosopher: that he teaches his pupils about things in the heavens and below the earth, and to disbelieve in gods, and to make the weaker argument defeat the stronger.” It is thus because he has revealed the truth about them in plain language that the earlier calumniators have spread these rumors about Socrates, which are the underlying causes of the present attack by Meletus, Anytus, and Lycon.

The Real Complaint

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It must be remembered that the prosecution could not afford to present its real complaint against Socrates. The pretext of “corruption of the young” concerned his supposed influence, discouraging unquestioning loyalty to the democracy, on former associates (Alcibiades, Critias, Charmides, and others) who had opposed the state. The charge of “irreligion” was probably related to the mutilation, in 415 b.c.e., of all the Athenian statues of Hermes on the night before Alcibiades led the military expedition to Sicily, for which Alcibiades was blamed, probably falsely. However, these matters were excluded from the jurisdiction of the present court by the Act of Oblivion that Anytus had sponsored. According to this act, offenses occurring under the old democracy had received general amnesty. During the year of Socrates’ trial, 399 b.c.e., Anytus defended another person against charges of irreligion, so it is unlikely that he actually held such a grievance against Socrates. It is likely that Anytus regarded Socrates’ influence as dangerous to the restored democracy and, consequently, as something that needed to be destroyed. Hence the trumped-up charges, the use of Meletus as mouthpiece, and the prosecution’s unwillingness and inability to explain or substantiate the accusations made in public.

Consequently, on trial, Socrates exercises his argumentative abilities with humor and irony to show how ridiculous the prosecution’s case is. He turns specifically to the charges of Meletus, stating them as follows: “Socrates is guilty of corrupting the minds of the young, and of believing in deities of his own invention instead of the gods recognized by the State.” This passage has been interpreted as meaning that Socrates did not worship the official gods rather than that he did not believe in them, and that he practiced unfamiliar rites.

The Defense

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Socrates now takes the line that Meletus must be joking about a serious matter in which he really has no interest. Who, he queries, exercises the best influence on the young? By a series of questions he leads Meletus to say that it is the whole Athenian citizenry—except Socrates. However, this is very odd; in fact, it is exactly opposite to the case of training horses, in which the many are incompetent and only a few expert trainers improve the animals.

Furthermore, because Meletus must admit that evil people harm their associates, he must also admit that Socrates would be unbelievably stupid not to know that by corrupting his young acquaintances, he would only be brewing trouble for himself. Thus, either Socrates has not been a bad influence, or if he has, he must have been one unintentionally. If the latter, however, what Socrates deserves according to the usual procedure is that he be given private admonition rather than punishment. However, far from instructing Socrates, Meletus has avoided his company until now.

How, specifically, has Socrates corrupted the young, especially in regard to teaching belief in new deities? Does he believe in gods different from those of the state or in none at all? Meletus takes the latter alternative. Socrates suggests that Meletus has deliberately and flippantly contradicted himself in order to test Socrates’ logical prowess. It is charged both that Socrates believes in no gods and that he believes in new deities, that he is an atheist and yet believes in “supernatural activities” (this refers to Socrates’ famous divine “sign,” or inner voice). Now one cannot believe in activities without an actor, and if Socrates believes in supernatural activities, he must believe in supernatural beings. Thus, either Meletus was trying Socrates’ wit or he was desperate for a genuine charge against him.

At this point, Socrates acknowledges that his destruction will be caused by the general hostility aroused by his conduct, not by these flimsy accusations, but that he has no regret for his behavior. Good people must not busily calculate the chances of life and death but must concern themselves with acting rightly. It would be most inconsistent if, after loyal military service through several engagements, Socrates were to fail through fear of death an assignment given by God himself to the philosophic life. To fear death implies knowledge of what occurs afterward, another form of the pretense to know what one does not; but to disobey a superior, human or divine, is a known evil.

Were it suggested that Socrates be acquitted on condition that he desist from his philosophical questionings, he would reply that, much as he appreciates the offer, he must still pursue his duty to God, asking Athenians, “Are you not ashamed that you give your attention to acquiring as much money as possible, and similarly with reputation and honour, and give no attention or thought to truth and understanding and the perfection of your soul?” Actually, Socrates conceives his divine service as the greatest benefit ever to fall on Athens, since he urges people to put the welfare of their souls above all else. If the Athenians kill him, they will inflict more harm on themselves; Socrates believes that divine law prevents injury by an evil to a good person. Of course they can banish or kill his body, but such acts do no harm to the soul, except of course to the soul of the evildoer.

Here Socrates introduces the famous “gadfly” metaphor. Comical as it sounds, he says, “God has appointed me to this city, as though it were a large thoroughbred horse that because of its great size is inclined to be lazy and needs the stimulation of some stinging fly” (“gadfly,” in one translation).It seems to me that God has attached me to this city to perform the office of such a fly; and all day long I never cease to settle here, there, and everywhere, rousing, persuading, reproving every one of you. You will not easily find another like me, gentlemen, and if you take my advice you will spare my life. I suspect, however, that before long you will awake from your drowsing, and in your annoyance you will take Anytus’s advice and finish me off with a single slap; and then you will go on sleeping till the end of your days, unless God in his care for you sends someone to take my place.

Although such a description of his mission might be misinterpreted as conceited, careful study of its context and of other Socratic dialogues will convince the reader that it is only the frank self-appraisal of a prophet. As Socrates adds, proof of the sincerity of what he has said and done lies in the obvious fact of his poverty; he has neglected his private affairs in order to fulfill his duty.

Should someone ask why Socrates has not addressed himself to the state at large with his advice, the answer is that he has been forbidden to do so by the divine voice to which Meletus’s charge made implicit reference and that comes to him occasionally to warn against a course of action. In regard to a political career, its warning was evidently provident, for otherwise Socrates would have been dead long ago—no person, he says, can conscientiously oppose a government by the masses and champion justice and live long. He would not act wrongly in obedience to any authority, as is evidenced by the few occasions of his public office. When a member of the council under the old democracy, he alone opposed the unconstitutional trial of ten military commanders en bloc, thus risking denunciation and arrest. Later, under the oligarchy, he disobeyed an unjust order to participate in the arrest of Leon of Salamis and probably would have been executed had not the government fallen.

Toward the end of his defense, Socrates repeats that he has never taught professionally nor privately but has allowed rich and poor to exchange questions and answers with him and, consequently, cannot be held responsible for the good or bad career of any individual. If some of those who have listened to his discourse have been corrupted by him, Socrates challenges them to bear witness now. That no one comes is ample evidence that Meletus lies. This constitutes Socrates’ defense; he will not appeal, as is usual with defendants, to the sympathy of the jury by exhibiting his children and friends. To do so would be unfitting for one of Socrates’ reputation. Besides, the defendant’s business is to convince the jury by facts and argument rather than by sentiment, and the jury is to decide justly, not hand out verdicts as favors. Were he to ask them to perjure themselves as jurors, this in itself would convict him of guilt. Thus Socrates ends his speech and places himself in his judges’ and God’s hands.

The Verdict and Punishment

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When the verdict is brought in, it is guilty, though obtained by a small margin, about 280 to 220. Meletus proposes the death penalty (although scholars believe Socrates’ accusers did not wish to kill him but only to silence or banish him because according to the prevalent practices several alternatives of escape were open to the philosopher). It is customary for the convicted defendant to propose an alternate penalty and for the jury to choose which one would be enacted. However, Socrates will not admit guilt. Because he has not cared for money, a comfortable home, high rank, or secret societies—all the things having popular appeal—and has instead devoted himself to his mission to Athens, Socrates says it would therefore be appropriate that he be maintained at state expense as a public benefactor. Certainly he deserves this treatment more than do Olympic horse racers!

Of course Socrates does not expect this suggestion to be taken seriously in spite of its justice. What of other possibilities? He rejects that of imprisonment, which is a known evil compared to death, which is of uncertain value. As to banishment, it is clear that he would find no more welcome in other societies than he has in Athens, for his conduct and its results would be the same. Again, he cannot give up philosophy and “mind his own business,” for “to let no day pass without discussing goodness and all the other subjects about which you hear me talking and examining both myself and others is really the very best thing that a man can do, and . . . life without this sort of examination is not worth living.” As to a fine, it is not likely that what he could afford would be acceptable. At this point Plato, Crito, Critobulus, and Apollodorus offer to pay a fine thirty times that which Socrates suggests, an offer he transmits to the court.

However, the jury decides on the death penalty, and Socrates makes his final remarks. He reminds that part of the jury voting for death that nature would soon have brought about what they wished, but as it is, they will incur blame for having killed a wise man, whether he is one or not. His condemnation has resulted not from paucity of argument but from his bearing: He has not been brazen or servile, nor has he catered to their pleasure. The real difficulty is not to elude death but to outrun vice. Socrates, the old man, has been caught by the former, but they have been captured by the latter; his condemnation is by the court, but they are convicted of their wickedness by Truth. Hoping to stop his mouth by death, they will find that criticism of their actions will increase—the only escape for them is to become good people.

To those voting for acquittal, he notes that in nothing he has done this day has the inner voice opposed him, whereas in the past it sometimes stopped him in the middle of a sentence. This is clear evidence that the outcome is good and that even death is no evil. Death must be either total annihilation, in which case it is an unbroken rest or else a change to another world; and if it is true as reported that one can there converse with the great men of time past, how rewarding! To meet Homer, Hesiod, or the great heroes of the old days, especially those similarly condemned to death unjustly, would be worth dying for again and again. To talk and argue with them would be happiness beyond description, and presumably one is not killed there for asking questions.

Socrates concludes by encouraging the friendly jurors with the belief that “nothing can harm a good man either in life or after death, and his fortunes are not a matter of indifference to the gods.” He has no ill will for those who condemned him, although they are guilty of intent to harm him. As a final favor, Socrates asks that his hearers treat his sons as he has treated the Athenians: If they put anything before goodness or are self-deceived about their virtues, he asks that the jurors take their “revenge by plaguing them as I plagued you.”

So ends Plato’s story of the legal but unjust trial of one regarded as philosophy’s first martyr. The authenticity of his report has been questioned, but scholars have pointed out that many people present at the trial, including hostile critics, would have read Plato’s account and detected any substantial deviation from the facts. It therefore may be regarded as an essentially accurate record of the serenity, wit, courage, and steadfastness of a philosopher whose justness gave him composure in the face of those who cheated him of life.

Bibliography

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Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 492

Brumbaugh, Robert S. Plato for the Modern Age. New York: Crowell-Collier, 1962. A good introduction to Plato’s thought and the Greek world in which he developed it.

Copleston, Frederick. A History of Philosophy: Greece and Rome. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1969. Copleston devotes several clear chapters to a discussion of the full range of Plato’s view.

Cropsey, Joseph. Plato’s World: Man’s Place in the Cosmos. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. Discusses Plato’s views on human nature with attention to his political theories.

Friedlander, Paul. Plato. Translated by Hans Meyerhoff. New York: Harper & Row, 1964.

Plato. Apology. Chicago: Bolchazy-Carducci, 1981.

Gonzalez, Francisco, ed. The Third Way: New Directions in Platonic Studies. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1995. A helpful sampling of late twentieth century research on Plato, his continuing significance, and trends of interpretation in Platonic studies.

Irwin, Terrence. Plato’s Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. A thorough study of Plato’s moral philosophy, including its political implications.

Jones, W. T. The Classical Mind. Vol. 1 in A History of Western Philosophy. 2d ed. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1969. A reliable introduction to the main themes and issues on which Plato focused.

Kahn, Charles H. Plato and the Socratic Dialogue: The Philosophical Use of a Literary Form. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. A study of Plato’s use of the dialogue form as a means for exploring and developing key philosophical positions and dispositions.

Kraut, Richard, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Plato. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Eminent Plato scholars analyze and assess key Platonic dialogues and issues in Plato’s thought.

Moravcsik, J. M. E. Plato and Platonism: Plato’s Conception of Appearance and Reality in Ontology, Epistemology, and Ethics and Its Modern Echoes. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1992. A scholarly study of Plato’s key distinction between appearance and reality and the continuing impact of that distinction.

Pappas, Nikolas, ed. Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Plato and the “Republic.” New York: Routledge, 1995. Helpful articles that clarify key Platonic concepts and theories.

Reeve, C. D. C. Socrates in the Apology: An Essay on Plato’s Apology of Socrates. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1989.

Rutherford, R. B. The Art of Plato: Ten Essays in Platonic Interpretation. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995. Well-informed essays on key elements of Plato’s theories.

Sayers, Sean. Plato’s “Republic”: An Introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000. An accessible commentary on the works of the philosopher.

Shorey, Paul. What Plato Said. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978.

Tarrant, Harold. Plato’s First Interpreters. Ithica, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2000. An examination of the earliest debates about Plato’s ideas.

Taylor, A. E. Plato: The Man and His Work. 7th ed. London: Methuen, 1960.

Tuana, Nancy, ed. Feminist Interpretations of Plato. University Park: Pennsylvania State University, 1994. Scholarly essays evaluate Plato’s understanding of gender issues and appraise his philosophy from the perspectives of feminist theory.

Williams, Bernard A. O. Plato. New York: Routledge, 1999. An excellent biographical introduction to the thoughts of the philosopher, clearly presented. Bibliography.

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