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neither collectively nor in detail a ground for rejection, and they might, therefore, very easily have judged wrong. In like manner, also, various grounds of suspicion might be raised against the sufficiency of the proofs applied, as several examples both in former and even in modern times have shown at how early a period of antiquity supposititious writings have been adopted even by philologists and learned men into the list of genuine works. Now, if they judged chiefly upon internal grounds, no prescription is valid as regards these at all events; but they must remain fairly subject to renewed trial at every period, however late. Hence then arises, especially as in the mind of every attentive reader many doubts will suggest themselves against much that he meets with, a question whether these men did not in their criticism start from too limited a point of view; or whether they may not have failed to push principles, though correct, to their full extent, and consequently have preserved much that might have been quite as appropriately rejected. There are two circumstances that give particular encouragement to this doubt. First, that the dialogues at that time rejected are not all of them separated by a decisive line from all recognised at the same period, but whether we look to the subject-matter, or to the composition and mode of treatment, some of the first class approximate pretty near to the second. Again, that from the same period at which these authorities were commonly recognised, among the well known suspicious circumstances attaching to the Erastae and Hipparchus, a stock of doubts has lived, which perhaps only require to be planted in a better critical soil to spread perceptibly to a considerable extent, and strike out in many other places. But if our confidence in the authenticity of the
collection is thus shaken, any one endowed with any, however little, talent for such investigations, will be fain to allow that, in strictness, each particular work must itself be its own voucher that it is Platonic. Now this, to continue, can be done in no other way except by coming back to evidences again; and, looking at what has been said above, it might be doubted whether for us, at the present time, there is any other valid evidence but Aristotle. Meanwhile even with him various grounds of suspicion come in, partly on account of the doubtfulness of many pieces which bear his name, as spurious works are mixed up even with this collection, partly by reason of the bad state of the text, which seems to be far more loaded with glosses than has been hitherto remarked; and in part, lastly, from his manner of quoting, as he often mentions the titles only of Platonic dialogues without the composer, or even the name of Socrates when we expect that of Plato. But the philological consciousness which should here confidently decide whether Aristotle had Plato in his mind or not, and whether or no he ascribed to him the dialogues named, must indeed have approved itself in possession of a high degree of practice, not only in general, but especially to avoid arguing in a circle in this case, and founding, it may be, the judgment passed upon the quotations of Aristotle on one previously formed upon the Platonic writings. Hence, any quotation in the works of Aristotle introduced only in a cursory manner, and, as is not seldom the case, almost superfluously and for mere ornament, need not necessarily be a proof of the genuineness of a Platonic dialogue. Now the only thing which rescues us from this state of uncertainty is a system of criticism upon Plato pervading the greatest part of the genuine writings of Aristotle, particular parts of which, any one with a little practice may learn easily to distinguish. When, therefore, we find this employed upon passages out of our Platonic writings, or even only on ideas distinctly contained in them, we may then conclude with certainty that Aristotle had these writings in view as Platonic, even though, as is sometimes the case, he should not give us the name of the dialogue, but only mention it, in general, as one of Plato or of Socrates. To explain this more accurately would carry us far beyond the limits of the present introduction, and is the less necessary as among those who are ignorant of both sets of works the doubts are not sufficiently strong to require such a proceeding, while those who know them will hardly make objections to the result, that by this method we can scarcely fail of sure proofs of the genuineness of the greatest of Plato's works, and of guides to the meaning of his philosophy in the most important of them. In these, then, lies that critical ground upon which every further investigation must build, and in fact no better is needed. For the Dialogues thus authenticated form a stock from which all the rest seem to be only offsets, so that a connection with them affords the best test whereby to judge of their origin. And for the next task likewise, that of arrangement, it follows from the nature of the case, that when we have that stock we are at once in possession of all the essential grounds of general connection. For it must have been natural for the first reviewer of the Platonic system to have especially taken a survey of all the most important developments of it without any exception, and thus we do actually find these in the instances of the works most accredited by Aristotle. As such, of a character which in both respects, as well as regards their genuineness as their importance, entitles them to constitute the first rank among the Platonic works, we count the Phaedrus, the Protagoras, the Parmenides, the Theaetetus, the Sophist and Politicus, Phaedo, Philebus, and Republic, together with the Timaeus and Critias connected with it. In these, therefore, we have a firm footing-point from which to advance further, both in the task of deciding the genuineness of the rest, and investigating the place which belongs to each of them ; and the second may be accomplished simultaneously with the first, and without the two by their mutual relation contradicting one another, but either very naturally supporting each other mutually in a variety of ways, as, it is hoped, the following investigation will shew.
Now the first task, that of testing the remaining dialogues in our collection, and thus investigating whether or not they belong to Plato, is not without difficulty, for the reason that the character to be drawn from those that are proved genuine is made up of several traits and distinguishing features, and it seems unfair to expect that all should be united in an equal degree in all productions of Plato, and difficult to decide to which of these distinguishing marks we ought especially to look and what rank to assign to each. Now there are three things which come particularly under consideration: the peculiarity of the language, a certain common range of subject, and the particular form into which Plato usually moulds it. Now as regards the language, the matter in question would be fortunately dealt by, if any proof whatever could be drawn from that, regarding the origin of these pieces. But if we look to the philosophical part of them, there are among the dialogues whose claims to be considered as Plato's it will never
theless be necessary to investigate, some which treat in general of no scientific subjects, nor of any in the spirit of speculation; while the rest take their subject-matter so immediately from the range of the undoubtedly genuine dialogues, and are so manifestly inspired by the same mode of thinking, that it is impossible to recognise in them a later or a strange hand, and yet they might, as far as depends upon this point, come only from a scholar or an imitator who faithfully followed the footsteps of his master. But as regards the properly dialogistic part of the dialogues, scarcely any one could presume to select first from the common property of the period that which was the work of the Socratic school in particular, and from this again to distinguish with certainty the peculiarities of Plato. Or, considering the great compass which the language of an author who has wielded the pen so long must acquire, and moreover the great loss of contemporaneous and similar works, and, finally, if the small and already long since rejected dialogues are to be accounted as forming part of the whole to be judged, considering the great difference in value and subject; all these circumstances considered, is there any one now-a-days who would venture to profess himself sufficiently skilled in Greek to pass sentence upon any expression whatever even in these small dialogues, and to decide that it is unplatonic with such certainty that he would undertake for that reason alone to reject the piece Rather might we say that it is not so much the indication of the presence of what is strange or the absence of what is native, the want of choice and embellishing dialogistic formulae, that may draw down the sentence of rejection upon those dialogues already accredited as far as the language is E