Philosophy and politics : Socrates on patriotism

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1982

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The Menexenus is one of the less popular Platonic dialogues. The Reverend R.G. Bury, who translated the work in 1929, comments that it is "interesting . . . not so much for the matter it contains as for the literary problems which it raises. Paul Shorey notes that "there are many conjectures as to its purpose and purport." Both commentators think it was probably intended as "an Epideictic display, and a study in formal rhetoric." Bury questions the authenticity of the dialogue, but Shorey asserts that its "genuineness is beyond question." This essay proposes that the literary problems raised can be understood only when the matter is understood. First, the dialogue must be placed with other Platonic dialogues. Second, it must be examined on its own terms. [...]

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