Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

it is manifest that Plato was very well satisfied with the course pursued in the Protagoras, as in the little dialogues that follow he advances so immediately upon the conclusions there drawn; and the entire idea of the communicability of Virtue is further preserved in a long series which we have before us, and is even far more intimately connected there with the whole philosophy of Plato than the somewhat partial though perhaps more purely Socratic treatment of it in the Hippias. Hence this dialogue, if it is placed after the Protagoras, a position which it always occupies, must ever interrupt the natural progression. Moreover we find neither in the Hippias any reference whatever to the Protagoras, nor in any of the appendages to the latter, any to the Hippias. And this view is quite as little confirmed by the proposition worked out in the second part of our dialogue, which maintains that the good man errs intentionally and only the bad man unintentionally. For if the Hippias were a supplement to the Protagoras this ought manifestly to have been brought into connection with the supposition there advanced, that no man errs intentionally. Now it is indeed true that to the proposition in the Hippias such a turn is given that it is inferred that if any man errs intentionally it must be the good man, when it seems to be supposed that more probably no man errs intentionally : but this would have been brought out far more prominently if it had been written by Plato in reference to the Protagoras. Hence we are always far more tempted to entertain the notion that the hypothesis in the Protagoras might be laid down naked and unsupported as it is, partly in reliance upon this position already worked out in the Hippias; therefore nothing now remains but to place the Hippias before the Protagoras, and to regard it as the first attempt to bring forward those ideas upon the nature of virtue in the well known and indirect method; but an attempt which did not seem to have been sufficiently successful, and from that cause occasioned that larger and more beautiful work. Now it is true that all the testing of spirit and method interwoven into it, with all immediately dependent thereupon would be an addition perfectly new, but then it is also very conceivable that something of the kind must have occurred to Plato when he wished to improve and discuss anew a subject already treated of. And this view might even be brought to a higher degree of probability, if it was more accurately shown how some kind of germ, though mostly in an extremely imperfect state, of every thing else contained in the Protagoras may be found in the Hippias, whether we look to the subjectmatter, or to the different modes of treating it. As then this is the most favourable view which may be taken of the work, and yet supposing it true, the Hippias appears to a certain degree supported by the Protagoras, in no case could any other place be assigned it except in this appendix. But when details come to be more accurately investigated, this favourable view wanes again, and a variety of doubts arise as to whether this dialogue can in fact be the work of Plato at all. These doubts do indeed arise immediately and at first sight only on consideration of the dress in which the dialogue appears. For, first, there is much here so awkward that we can hardly attribute it to Plato, and then, in the whole conversation about Hippias’ olympic exhibition, the irony upon the sophists is severed from the remaining subjectmatter of the dialogue in a way not to be found in Plato elsewhere; and again, the variations in the manner of the dialogue are so pointlessly introduced, that it seems scarcely possible that Plato should have so applied them even for the first time. But when once the reader's attention is taken by these particulars, he will then be led to view more in this dialogue with a suspicious eye. Many, for example, of the unquestionable resemblances to the Protagoras are open to the suspicion of imitation, when we consider that in that dialogue they arise out of the additional subject-matter not found in the Hippias, while in the Hippias they furnish only unmeaning ornament. And again, the manner particularly in which the interlocutors start with Homer looks like an expedient of some pupil unacquainted with those lyric poets, more valued by Plato; as also the complaint that it is impossible now to ask the Poet what he meant by the sentiment, is an echo of that in the Protagoras. Even Hippias seems severed away from among the personages of that dialogue to be the principal one here only for good luck, and without any particular reason, such as we can most generally produce in other dialogues. Nay more, whoever once looks closely at the whole dialogue in this light, the example it affords of the practice of dialectics, will appear to him of a remarkable kind; sometimes timid, sometimes awkward, and almost only resembling the Ion. So that many persons might easily be led to consider it best to apply to the Hippias also the same theory as to the Ion ; reserving, that is, to Plato, his undeniable property in the first invention and arrangement; and recognising in the rest the after-work of some pains-taking and pretty intelligent pupil, destitute of the spirit and taste of his master. Hence Bekker has, in my opinion, done quite right in at once ascribing this dialogue also to an unknown composer; who, it is extremely probable, might be one and the same person with the composer of the Ion. On the other hand however, others may regard it as a preponderant argument in favour of the genuineness of this dialogue, that Aristotle quotes it not indeed under the name of Plato, but still just as he will frequently quote other decided works of his teacher. For to say in general that in investigations as to the genuineness of Platonic dialogues no regard is to be paid to the quotations of Aristotle—this is an answer which I would not at all events now make. But this quotation does indeed properly show only that Aristotle knew our dialogue, but does not decide that he ascribed it to Plato.

W. HIPPARCHUS.

IT was not until after the exercise of long and complex consideration, that the final resolution was taken of following the example of two great masters in the art of criticism, and striking the Hipparchus out of the list of dialogues belonging to Plato; for the object which an intelligent reader can discover in the dialogue, is Platonic enough. This is, to treat the love of the good, as love of gain, or as self-interest, a notion very closely connected with those well-known propositions that there is nothing useful but the good, and that when men embrace the bad they do so only in error. Hence it might be very easy to believe that it was Plato's purpose to start also from this idea appertaining to common life as he did from that of discretion and courage, and thus to penetrate to the central point of his philosophy. As it is also the case that this motion is very well calculated to be projected into that higher and genuinely ethical theory relating to the love of the good. This favourable view of the dialogue appears to be still more corroborated by a passage almost at the end, pretty clearly alluding to a further extension of the principles and views brought forward in what has preceded. Accordingly it might be thought that this dialogue, like the former, is constructed upon a design of Plato; in such a manner however that only a small part of it was executed, which might at the most have borne the same relation to the whole as conceived by Plato, as in the Lysis the preliminary dialogue does to the rest. An example the more applicable in the present case, because it is just from the kind of discussion the idea of the good there receives, that the transition to an extension of it like that in the Hipparchus may very easily be conceived. Except indeed that what is there hinted of the idea of the useful proclaims itself to be far more Platonic than what we have here in the Hipparchus. The dialogue would then be a small fragment of which the commencement is wanting, and whose present conclusion must have been added by a very unskilful hand. For no intelligent reader will be able to discover in any thought of Plato's, however cursorily expressed, any ground for believing him capable of annexing such a termination, nor would any one with even the slightest insight into the plan of the dialogue think of concluding or interrupting it thus. And quite as little is it Plato's custom to break in with such a

« EdellinenJatka »