This book helps understand Plato’s writings by describing the circumstances in which they were produced. The author begins with an account of Plato’s life and development and a brief analysis of some of the more difficult points arising from the criticism of Plato’s writings. The remainder of the work considers the total setting – political, literary and philosophical – in which Plato’s writings were produced. There are extensive appendices on the Platonic Epistles, Aristotle and the Theory of Ideas, and on the post-Aristotelian tradition. The result is both a lucid account of Plato himself and a comprehensive view of culture in fifth century Greece.
Part 1: Plato’s Life and Work 1. The Life of Plato – Early Years 2. Plato’s Later Life – Personal Characteristics 3. The Academy 4. The Writings of Plato 5. The Chronology of the Dialogues. Part 2: The Moral and Political Backgrounds 6. The General Moral and Political Background 7. The General Moral and Political Background (continued) 8. The Fourth Century 9. Plato on Contemporary Politics. Part 3: The Literary and Philosophical Backgrounds 10. The Socratic Literature 11. The Socratic Literature (continued) 12. The Socratic Philosophers 13. The Pythagoreans 14. Plato on his Contemporaries. Appendix 1: The Platonic Letters. Appendix 2. Aristotle’s Account of the Historical Origin of the Theory of Ideas. Appendix 3. Socrates and Plato in Post-Aristotelian Tradition. Index of Author quoted. General Index