Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

universal founder of the art. Hence his visible endeavour to represent the dialogue as one that actually took place, and to put its authenticity beyond a doubt. For otherwise it might have been a matter of perfect indifference to him to be tauntingly asked by an over-curious critic, whence he could know this dialogue, as Socrates, after the lapse of so many years, did certainly narrate nothing of the kind. How far then it was possible for this conversation, or rather for any meeting whatever of Socrates with Parmenides to have taken place—upon that point we cannot, I think, decide upon external grounds. For there is in point of fact no impossibility in the time ; but the question only is at what time Parmenides was in Athens, and how far reliance is to be placed upon the assertion that this took place in the eightieth olympiad. Only thus much is certain, that if it is a fiction which Plato has here allowed himself, and one moreover of a description which is at variance with actual facts, he might in that case either have left the matter as far as possible obscure and indefinite, or, if he wished to reduce it to objective certainty, he had greater licences at his command than the considerably advanced age which he ascribes to Parmenides ; and of these he would have unhesitatingly availed himself. To what purpose this definite description, if Plato neither knew how the circumstance had taken place, nor had calculated how it might have taken place P But without reference to truth of fact, and suggested only by Plato's undeniable endeavour to gain the dialogue an appearance of historical foundation, a circumstance is here to be brought into notice, with regard to which no one yet seems to have entertained any suspicion, although the general opinion of it tends to charge Plato with an absurdity of which I should be sorry to believe him guilty. For who, I would ask, is Cephalus who repeats the dialogue, who are Glaucon and Adimantus whom he meets, and Antipho of whom he is supposed to tell the story - In Cephalus, first, every one thinks of the son of Lysanias and the father of Lysias, who, like the naturalized resident of that name, had travelled to Athens as a stranger. But the father of Lysias is generally a Syracusan, and this Cephalus comes from home at Clazomenae. Yet it is difficult to believe that any other is meant. For he who as the intermediate person could bring the dialogue so far in order to repeat it in Plato's presence, and such is the supposition, must have reached an advanced period of old age, and therefore be generally known. And such a man must Cephalus, the father of Lysias, have indisputably been. Whence therefore Clazomenae comes, let every one decide for himself from the two following cases, which seem the only possible. Either this is a fiction of Plato's ; but to what purpose P in order not to make Sicilian men inquire curiously after dialogues of Plato P But that would be a somewhat ponderous and complicated process in order to remedy a more trifling evil, and one that might have been avoided with perfect ease. To introduce, then, men of Clazomenae, and to think in so doing that on the mention of unity, the reason, and on that of the remainder (all besides unity,) the original plurality of Anaxagoras, was to be suggested to the mind? But, in the first place, this would certainly intrude itself more upon the notice, and, in the next, Cephalus need not on that account be made a Clazomenian, but need only have hospitable acquaintances there. Or Cephalus the Syracusan has, before travelling to Athens, lived a certain period at Clazomenae, and Plato mentions this with a degree of emphasis as a circumstance not generally known. But this only in passing. The principal question is, who are Glaucon, Adimantus and Antipho P. The first two, every one answers, are the well-known brothers of Plato, and Antipho is a half brother of his, not indeed otherwise known, the offspring of a second marriage, mentioned, it must be allowed, no where else except in reference to this dialogue, of his mother Perictione with one Pyrilampes, who could not therefore have been the well-known person of that name, his own uncle and the friend of Pericles. But do these things come even within the range of possibility For it cannot, notwithstanding the uncertainty which attaches to Cephalus, be meant to be said, that Plato's brothers, in the Republic, when Cephalus appears as a person of advanced age, are young men, and here, at the period of the same Cephalus' arrival at Athens, already settled and ready to promise him their interest. But even supposing Cephalus to have been another of that name far younger, consider the strange circumstance that Plato, in order to prove the authenticity of the dialogue, makes a Cephalus relate it who has himself heard it from Plato's own younger brother; so that Plato might have had it by a far less roundabout process. And the yet much stranger circumstance that a younger brother of Plato should have heard this dialogue immediately, and while still a growing boy, from an ear-witness, whose minion he appears to have been, and, notwithstanding, should be already a man at the time of Socrates' early youth. Whoever considers these things will allow that nothing more irrational can be easily conceived, and that such a plan was calculated to make the meeting, the actual occurence of which Plato wished to warrant, a R.

mere baby tale. Let us therefore without more ado relieve Plato from this half-brother who has been forced upon him, whom even Plutarch and Proclus appropriate to him manifestly only on the ground of this passage of ours; and let us rather confess that we do not know who Glaucon and Adimantus were, unless perhaps Glaucon the elder and Callaeschrus had yet another brother called Adimantus from whom the name was transposed to the younger. But too much already about the outward circumstances of the dialogue, as there is yet something remaining to be said upon the internal matter itself. The dialogue, I should say, comes to such a strikingly abrupt conclusion, that it might easily be doubted whether this really is the conclusion. For to conclude such a result of the investigation, and at the same time the whole dialogue, only with a simple expression of assent, such as has occurred a hundred times in the dialogue itself, seems, whether we regard it as disproportionate or over simple, entirely unworthy of Plato. Whoever recollects how in the Protagoras also the investigation concluded with a confession of a contradiction prevailing throughout its whole course, will, in this dialogue too, expect in conclusion at least a similar indication of surprise, and an express confession that a still more searching investigation is requisite. How then such a conclusion, supposing it to have been there, could have been lost, it. is difficult to conceive ; for whoever had worked on through so much that was tiresome would hardly have refused to add the little that was gratifying. There remains, accordingly, scarce any other supposition except that Plato was interrupted for a considerable time by some external circumstances while he was bringing the dialogue to a termination; and that perhaps he did not afterwards subjoin the conclusion, because he already had in his mind the sketches at least of other dialogues which were intended to approximate to the same ultimate point by another method. And that external interruption, if the supposition is to be more accurately made out, may have been either the flight to Megara, which followed after the death of Socrates, or even Plato's first journey, upon which he started from that place. The last, according to my notion, would be the most agreeable with probabilities. For even supposing Plato, and this supposition is of itself hardly credible, to have composed such a work during the unquiet times in which Socrates’ accusation was prepared and finished, in that case, nothing could prevent him from giving it the finishing touch at Megara. It is much more probable that it was composed at Megara, when, during Plato's stay there, and certainly not without his having exercised important influence upon it, the school which took its name from the place, and devoted itself especially to dialectics, was formed. But if any one, though with the view of setting up a more plenary defence of the work, should think to found still more important suppositions upon the condition in which the end is at present found, as that, generally, the best part and the right conclusion are lost, and that otherwise the second part would be put in connection with the first, and the doctrine of ideas more accurately defined according to dialectical investigation, we could not assent to such a view. For whoever is convinced by the exposition as brought up to the point at which it ceases, that the Parmenides is a counterpiece to the Protagoras, though not without the

advancement which is never wanting in the progress from

« EdellinenJatka »