A one-day workshop on A Reconsideration of the chronology of Plato’s dialogues organized jointly by the Museum Graeco-Latinum (Moscow – http://en.mgl.ru/) and the Plato Centre (Dublin, Trinity College – http://www.tcd.ie/plato/) was held on the 11th of May in the Trinity College.
Prof. John Dillon and Prof. Vasilis Politis kindly supported the initiative of the Moscow private scholarly institution Museum Graeco-Latinum and thus Russian researchers presented their approach to the chronology of Plato’s dialogues in the following papers:
1. Prof. Y. Shichalin. On the new approach to the chronology of the Corpus Platonicum.
2. Dr. A. Usacheva. Concerning the date of Plato’s Phaedrus.
3. A. Zolotukhina. On the position of the Crito in the Corpus Platonicum.
4. O. Alieva. Elenchus and ‘what is not’: the Sophist vs. the Gorgias.
During a long and fruitful discussion, participants outlined the prospects of the presented ideas, which might significantly affect on the comprehension of the evolution of Plato’s work.
The suggested approach to the chronology of the dialogues of the Corpus Platonicum bases on the following assumptions:
1. Socrates and the «Socratics» should not de considered as the intermediaries between the sophists and Plato: it is impossible to mark out the «Socratics» from the sophists because they were also engaged in the sophistic education, while Plato was the sophists’ opponent never wrote the so-called “early Socratic dialogues”.
2. Plato’s dialogues and the evolution of their genre are connected with the evolution of Plato’s School as well as with his methods of teaching and research.
3. The evolution of the genre of Plato’s dialogues before and during the first Academic period (the end of 80s – the middle of the 60s, the epoch of amorous Socrates) had the following stages:
i. Plato started his literary work with the writing of the speeches: forensic (the Apology), political (the Menexenus), epideictic (speeches in the Phaedrus and Symposium).
ii. The next stage of the genre’s evolution consists in the composition of the frame dialogues (the Protagoras, Symposium, etc.) and the composition of the frames for the speeches (the frames for the Menexenus and Phaedrus).
iii. Working on the Republic Plato discussed with his pupils some important issues so that the preparatory stage of these discussions was reflected in the dialogues written in this period (Charmides, Lysis, Euthydemus).
iv. In the end of the first Academic period, Plato published the Republic. This dialogue shows the result of the development of Plato’s political thoughts and contains the summa of Plato’s doctrines of this period. It is possible that just in the first Academic period (after the Euthydemus) Plato’s students also began to write the dialogues.
v. Paying special attention to the form of his writings, Plato marks the formal changes, which are important for him.
4. The period of the middle – the second part of the 60s was characterized by the conscious rejection of a frame dialogue (cf. the Theaetetus), the adoption of the dialogues in a direct dramatic form and focusing on the methodological foundation of Plato’s doctrines (the Theaetetus, Parmenides). At this period, Plato meant to present his doctrine in a form of a scientific treatise (the Timaeus).
5. The final period (the 50s – the beginning of the 40s): Plato continued his work on the methodology of his research and wrote dialogues in a direct dramatic form the Sophist, Statesman, Philebus and also the Laws, which include fragments in the form of historical review and treatise. The dialogues Euthyphro, Alcibiades I, Crito and Minos, Ion, etc. were written by the members of Plato’s school and include the collections of preparatory materials on different topics of Laws as well as the reflection of school discussions of this period.
A further discussion of the proposed approach will be within the work of the section at the International Conference “Plato and Platonism in European culture,” which will be held in Moscow on the 6-8 of September 2012 (the English version of the program soon will be available here: http://kogni.ru/plato/index.htm).
The presented papers along with the review of their detailed discussion will be published in a special issue of the Hermathena.