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05-27-2007, 12:13 AM
Alcibiades II
Author: unknown


The two dialogues which are translated in the second appendix are not
mentioned by Aristotle, or by any early authority, and have no claim to be
ascribed to Plato. They are examples of Platonic dialogues to be assigned
probably to the second or third generation after Plato, when his writings
were well known at Athens and Alexandria. They exhibit considerable
originality, and are remarkable for containing several thoughts of the sort
which we suppose to be modern rather than ancient, and which therefore have
a peculiar interest for us. The Second Alcibiades shows that the
difficulties about prayer which have perplexed Christian theologians were
not unknown among the followers of Plato. The Eryxias was doubted by the
ancients themselves: yet it may claim the distinction of being, among all
Greek or Roman writings, the one which anticipates in the most striking
manner the modern science of political economy and gives an abstract form
to some of its principal doctrines.

For the translation of these two dialogues I am indebted to my friend and
secretary, Mr. Knight.

That the Dialogue which goes by the name of the Second Alcibiades is a
genuine writing of Plato will not be maintained by any modern critic, and
was hardly believed by the ancients themselves. The dialectic is poor and
weak. There is no power over language, or beauty of style; and there is a
certain abruptness and agroikia in the conversation, which is very un-
Platonic. The best passage is probably that about the poets:--the remark
that the poet, who is of a reserved disposition, is uncommonly difficult to
understand, and the ridiculous interpretation of Homer, are entirely in the
spirit of Plato (compare Protag; Ion; Apol.). The characters are ill-
drawn. Socrates assumes the 'superior person' and preaches too much, while
Alcibiades is stupid and heavy-in-hand. There are traces of Stoic
influence in the general tone and phraseology of the Dialogue (compare opos
melesei tis...kaka: oti pas aphron mainetai): and the writer seems to
have been acquainted with the 'Laws' of Plato (compare Laws). An incident
from the Symposium is rather clumsily introduced, and two somewhat
hackneyed quotations (Symp., Gorg.) recur. The reference to the death of
Archelaus as having occurred 'quite lately' is only a fiction, probably
suggested by the Gorgias, where the story of Archelaus is told, and a
similar phrase occurs;--ta gar echthes kai proen gegonota tauta, k.t.l.
There are several passages which are either corrupt or extremely ill-
expressed. But there is a modern interest in the subject of the dialogue;
and it is a good example of a short spurious work, which may be attributed to the second or third century before Christ.