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SINCE I first wrote this introduction, further progress has been made in the case of this and of the following dialogue. That both might fairly be attributed to one and the same composer I had already hinted; and not only has no protest been entered into on the other side with a view to establish their authenticity, but even Boeckh's ingenious opinion, which ascribes both of them together with two other previously excommunicated dialogues to Simon, has not yet been met by a contradiction. For what Ast mentions in opposition to that hypothesis is by no means of much importance. Notwithstanding this I have let my cautious introduction stand as it was, partly that the history of the investigation may remain entire, partly for uniformity's sake. For the same reason also I have left the dialogue in its old place, and in the title, though I am fully of Boeckh's opinion that the original one only mentioned the subject, have nevertheless followed the text of Bekker; and this may be said in anticipation with regard to the next dialogue also.
A FEw words again will suffice to gain assent to the rejection of the Minos as well as the Hipparchus. First, as to the reason for assigning this as its proper place, every reader must see the remarkable similarity between it, and the Hipparchus, which is so great that they seem both of them to have been turned out of the same mould. The beginning breaks in just as violently, and the end breaks off just as weakly and inappropriately, after a new investigation had apparently but just begun. So that even with regard to this sorry performance some persons have quieted themselves with the supposition, that all that is wanting to it is that it should be complete; as if such a design could ever be worked out to any good. Like the Hipparchus, again, the Minos is ornamentally disfigured in the middle by a discussion; not tending at all to advance the main subject, upon a personage of antiquity. And, what is more, this very discussion has equally given the dialogue its name, while the interlocutor is not only divested of all character and circumstance, but also nameless, and can the less be called Minos, as he no where gives even a hint that betrays him to be a stranger, and Minos was never an Athenian name. And further, whoever looks to the tenor and course of the dialogue, will recognize it as unplatonic. Nothing is ever gained by all the abundance of examples, nor anything more accurately defined by comparison with a similar idea; on the contrary, they pass with the most unsocratic carelessness from one idea to another; as from that of certainty to that of opinion, and every thing once said, however useful or tending towards a decision of the question, is always heedlessly abandoned. So that as regards the lame progress of the investigation, the Minos does indeed resemble the Hipparchus, but is far worse; this circumstance, however, excites no presumption against the supposition of an identity of composer, but is sufficiently explained by the nature of the subject. For the purpose of the dialogue generally cannot have been the investigation of an idea, but this is all show and pretence, adopted however, because no Socratic dialogue can exist without it, the main object being only a poor justification of Socrates' prejudice in favour of Crete. But this Minos has in itself a still further and more peculiar mark of spuriousness, in the pre-eminent awkwardness of the language. Instead of either seriously using the words connected with the principal word, by derivation and sound, or playing with them without injury to the investigation, and without sophistical trick, the author, like a clumsy workman, miserably entangles himself between these two processes. Again, the name of the kingly art is put abruptly and without any referential notice as a thing conceded, for the art of statemanship, and that of the kingly man for statesman. This is brought in here out of the later Platonic dialogues, out of which however the composer, whose imitation of Plato is always harping upon the most frequented places, was incapable of drawing anything more profound. But it is unnecessary to add more upon a subject clear as day to any one who will see. -
VII. ALCIBIADES II.
ALREADY in ancient times, doubts were entertained of the legitimacy of this dialogue, as some persons attributed it to Xenophon. For this supposition there were indeed no particular grounds, and least of all a decisive similiarity of style; and we might almost say that it . must have been at once rejected by every philologist. But it is only the more probable that there was at least some decided reason existing for denying this little work to Plato; though no such testimony is in fact wanting upon which to hang a decisive sentence of rejection. The case however of this dialogue is very different from that of those hitherto rejected or suspected. For many might probably say that it is better in many points of view, but every reader will certainly be obliged to confess that it is also far less Platonic in the thoughts, in the arrangement, and also in the execution. For, first, as regards the subject-matter, the interpreters have at various times congratulated themselves on finding here the true doctrine of Socrates upon the subject of prayer; and this is principally the reason why this place in particular has been assigned to this dialogue, in order to refer back to the Euthyphro and the Apology together. For when we talk of finding in Plato a doctrine of Socrates pure, this can only mean mixed up with the doctrine of other wise men, and not perfectly estranged from the manner in which Plato had once for all conceived Socrates. Now how could any one who has understood the hints in the Euthyphro and the spirit of the Apology consider it as a Socratic doctrine that the gods, without any fixed principle, and without even considering what
is best, sometimes grant and sometimes deny, nay, that one might suppose the case possible of their offering, what could be dangerous for mankind to receive P or that to meet with death after the performance of brilliant exploits, or live in banishment is a great evil which a man must use great foresight to avoid F /On the contrary, this is manifestly a doctrine about the gods of the nature of those of which Socrates says in the Euthyphro, that it is perhaps because he does not consent to anything of the kind, when people maintain such propositions concerning the gods, that he is calumniated and accused of impiety. And the latter view is quite as manifestly at variance with all the motions attributed to Socrates himself in the Apology, not to mention other Platonic dialogues which the composer of this clearly had before him. And again, whether the notion is Socratic or not, how poorly it is worked up. For as long as the supposition remains in existence, of inconsistency and uncertainty in the minds of the gods, of what use can it be to wait to pray for the knowledge of what is best, if they may also refuse this according as they think proper ? But if it should be said that Plato by this contradiction wished to negative the former supposition, we answer that there is not at the end any indication of the contradiction, as there is in the Protagoras and other similar cases; nor again, is there in the course of the dialogue any trace of the irony which Plato in such a case never could have omitted to introduce. But more accurately considered, the doctrine of prayer, even according to the intention of the composer, is certainly not to be taken for the main subject of the dialogue, but what we find about the reasonable and unreasonable man, and about the relation of other arts and sciences to that of the good and the best.