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The Play of Character in Plato's Dialogues

The Play of Character in Plato's Dialogues

  • Date Published: June 2002
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521793001

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  • This book attempts to bridge the gulf that still exists between 'literary' and 'philosophical' interpreters of Plato by looking at his use of characterization. Characterization is intrinsic to dramatic form and a concern with human character in an ethical sense pervades the dialogues on the discursive level. Form and content are further reciprocally related through Plato's discursive preoccupation with literary characterization. Two opening chapters examine the methodological issues involved in reading Plato 'as drama' and a set of questions surrounding Greek 'character' words (especially ethos), including ancient Greek views about the influence of dramatic character on an audience. The figure of Sokrates qua Platonic 'hero' also receives preliminary discussion. The remaining chapters offer close readings of select dialogues, chosen to show the wide range of ways in which Plato uses his characters, with special emphasis on the kaleidoscopic figure of Sokrates and on Plato's own relationship to his 'dramatic' hero.

    • Treats dramatic characterization as fundamental to the interpretation of Plato
    • Provides a sophisticated discussion of the debate over 'form' and 'content' in Plato
    • Offers an interesting take on the 'Sokratic question' by examining the various figures of Sokrates in relationship to each other rather than to some putative historical figure
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Ruby Blondell provides a thoroughly researched, intelligently conceived, and well written book which addresses the specific manners in which Plato wrestles with and carries out this very complex task … Blondell has contributed an impressive piece of scholarship worthy of close and considered attention.' Jill Gordon, Colby College

    '… a thoroughly researched, intelligently conceived, and well written book … What she presents really is a new approach to understanding the evidence one is presented with in Plato's dialogues … Blondell has contributed an impressive piece of scholarship worthy of close and considered attention.' Jill Gordon, Ancient Philosophy

    '… invigorating … a welcome addition [an] excellent book … [its] insights do shed real and new light on the dramatic composition of the dialogues … the book will certainly be important in the debate about Platonic form and content.' M. M. McCabe, The Times Literary Supplement

    '… important, stimulating.' Myles Burnyeat, London Review of Books

    'What is especially pleasing about Blondell's book is that it puts its case so directly and clearly, as well as forcefully. I suggest that it should be treated as foundational for (so-called) literary interpretation of Plato.' Christopher Rowe, Phronesis

    '… this is a detailed and complex study of characterization containing many excellent individual observations.' Journal of Hellenic Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2002
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521793001
    • length: 466 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 30 mm
    • weight: 0.85kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Preface
    1. Drama and dialogue
    2. The imitation of character
    3. The elenctic Sokrates at work: Hippias Minor
    4. A changing cast of characters: Republic
    5. Reproducing Sokrates: Theaetetus
    6. Putting Sokrates in his place: Sophist and Statesman
    Bibliography
    General index
    Index of passages cited.

  • Author

    Ruby Blondell, University of Washington
    Ruby Blondell is Professor of Classics at the University of Washington and author of two books and many articles on Greek drama and philosophy.

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