The Ancient Library

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275, Protag. pp. 329, 334, Oorg. p. 449, comp. Hipp. Min. p. 373), without doubt mainly in the form of lively dialogue; yet on the more difficult parts of his doctrinal system he probably also deli­vered connected lectures ; at least in the accounts of his lectures, noted down by Aristotle and other disciples, on the Good (see below) there appears no trace of the form of dialogue. Themistius also (Orat. xxi. p. 245, d) represents him as delivering a lecture on the Good in the Peiraeeus before an audience which gradually dwindled away. The more narrow circle of his disciples (the number of them, which can scarcely have remained uniform, is stated at 28) assembled themselves in his gar­den at common, simple meals (Athen. i. 7, xii. 69, x. 14, comp. Aelian, V. H. ii. 18, iii. 35 ; Diog. Laert. ii. 8), and it was probably to them alone that the inscription said to have been set up over the vestibule of the house, " let no one enter who is unacquainted with geometry," had reference (Tzetzes, Chiliad, viii. 972). From this house came forth his nephew Speusippus, Xenocrates of Chalcedon, Aristotle, Heracleides Ponticus, Hes-tiaeus of Perinthus, Philippus the Opuntian, and others, men from the most different parts of Greece. To the wider circle of those who, without attaching themselves to the more narrow community of the school, sought instruction and incitement from him, distinguished men of the age, such as Chabrias, Iphicrates (Aristid. ii. p. 325), Timotheus (Athen. x. 14, comp. Aelian. V. H. ii. 18. § 10 ; Plut. de Sanit. tuenda, p. 127. 6), Phocion, Hyperides, Ly-curgus, Isocrates (Diog. Laert. iii. 46), are said to have belonged. Whether Demosthenes was of the number is doubtful (Dem. Epist. v. ; Cic. de Orat. i. 20, Brut. 32, Orat. 5, de Offic. i. ], &c.; on the other hand see Niebuhr, Kleine historisclie Schriften, p. 482 ; Bake, Biblioth. CriL Nova, v. 1. 194, &c.). Even women are said to have attached themselves to him as his disciples (Diog. Laert. I. c., comp. Olym-piod.). Plato's occupation as an instructor was twice interrupted by journeys undertaken to Sicily ; first when Dion, probably soon after the death of the elder Dionysius (01. 103. 1, b.c. 368), deter­mined him to make the attempt to win the younger Dionysius to philosophy (Plat. Epist. vii. p. 327, iii. p. 316, c; Plut. Dion, c. 11, &c. 16, &c., PhilosopJi. esse cum Princip. c. 4 ; Corn. Nep. x. 3 ; Diog. Laert. iii. 21) ; the second time, a few years later (about b. c. 361), when the wish of his Pytha­gorean friends, and the invitation of Dionysius to reconcile the disputes which had broken out shortly after Plato's departure between him and his step-uncle Dion, brought him back to Syracuse. His efforts were both times unsuccessful, and he owed his own safety to nothing but the earnest inter­cession of Archytas (Plat. Epist. vii. pp. 339, 345, iii. p. 318 ; Pint. Dion, c. 20 ; Diog. Laert. iii. 25). Immediately after his return, Dion, whom he found at the Olympic games (01. 105. 1, b. c. 360), pre­pared for the contest, attacked Syracuse, and, sup­ported by Speusippus and other friends of Plato, though not by Plato himself, drove out the tyrant, but was then himself assassinated ; upon which Dionysius again made himself master of the govern­ment (Pl&t.Ep.; Plut. II. cc.; Diog. Laert. iii. 25). That Plato cherished the hope of realising through the conversion of Dionysius his idea of a state in the rising city of Syracuse, was a belief pretty generally spread in antiquity (Plut. Pliilos. e. princ. c. 4; Themist. Orat. xvii. p. 215, b ; Diog. Laert.


iii. 21), and which finds some confirmation in ex­pressions of the philosopher himself, and of the seventh letter, which though spurious is written with the most evident acquaintance with the mat­ters treated of (p. 327, e ; comp. Hermann, /. c. p. 66, &c.). If however Plato had suffered himself to be deceived by such a hope, and if, as we are told, he withdrew himself from all participation in the public affairs of Athens, from despair with re­gard to the destinies of his native city, noble even in her decline, he would indeed have exhibited a blind partiality for a theory which was too far removed from existing institutions, and have at the same time displayed a want of statesmanlike feel­ing and perception. He did not comply with the invitations of Cyrene and Megalopolis, which had been newly founded by the Arcadians and The-bans, to arrange their constitution and laws (Plut. ad princ. inerud. c. 1 ; Diog. Laert. iii, 23 ; Aelian. V. H. ii. 42). And in truth the vocation assigned him by God was more that of founding the science of politics by means of moral principles than of practising it in the struggle with existing relations. From the time when he opened the school in the Academy (it was only during his second and third journeys to Sicily that one of his more intimate companions—Heracleides Ponticus is named — had to supply his place, Suid. s. v. Heracleid.) we find him occupied solely in giving instruction and in the composition of his works. He is said to have died while writing in the 81st, or according to others the 84th year of his age, in 01. 108. 1, b. c. 347 (Cic. de Senect. 5 ; Senec. Epist. Iviii.; Neanthes in Diog. Laert. iii. 3 ; Diog. Laert. v. 9 ; Athen. v. p. 57, &c.). According to Hermippus he died at a marriage feast (Diog. Laert. iii. 3; Au­gust, de Civ. Dei, viii. 2). Thence probably arose the title of the eloge of Speusippus-—nAarwz/os 7T€pl8enn>ov. According to his last will his garden remained the property of the school (Diog. Laert. iii. 43), and passed, considerably increased by later additions, into the hands of the Neo-Platonists, who kept as a festival his birth-day as well as that of Socrates (Damasc. ap. Phot. Cod. ccxlii. ; Por-phyr. ap. Euseb. Praep. Evang. x. 3, p. 468). Athenians and strangers honoured his memory by monuments (Diog. Laert. iii. 43 ; Phavorin. ib. 25). Yet he had no lack of enemies and enviers, and the attacks which were made upon him with scoffs and ridicule, partly by contemporary comic poets, as Theopompus, Alexis, Cratinus the younger, and others (Diog. Laert. iii. 26, &c.; Athen. xi. p. 509, ii. p. 59), partly by one-sided Socratics, as Antis-thenes, Diogenes, and the later Megarics (Diog. Laert. iii. 35, vi. 7, 26, ii. 119 ; comp. Schleierma-cher's Platon, ii. 1, pp. 19,183,404, 406 ; ii. 2, pp. 17, 20), found a loud echo among Epicureans, Stoics, certain Peripatetics, and later writers eager for detraction. Thus even Aritisthenes and Aris-toxenus (Diog. Laert. iii. 35 ; Athen. v. p. 424, xi. p. 507; Mahne, de Aristooceno, pp. 14, 73, 91) charged him with sensuality, avarice, and syco­phancy (Diog. Laert. iii. 29 ; Athen. xi. p. 509, c, xiii. p. 589, c) ; and others with vanity, ambition, and envy towards other Socratics (Athen. xi. p. 507, d ; Diog. Laert. vi. 3, 7, 24, 26, 34 ; comp. A. Bockh, Oommentat. Acad. de biinultate quae Platoni cum Xenoplionte, intercessisse fertur, Berol. 1811). Others again accused him of having borrowed the form and substance of his doctrine from earlier philosophers, as Aristippus, Antisthenes (Theo

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