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Cratylus

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Cratylus

Postby swtwentyman » Fri Nov 25, 2016 8:58 am

I'm probably getting ahead of myself -- I still have several works at least to get through before I could even think of starting this one -- but I've acquired Plato's Cratylus, which an old professor recommended and which I agree would be right up my alley, before I could forget the title and before that professor retired.

I've heard that Plato's difficulty can be all over the map. How hard is this dialogue? In other words: when starting Latin my medium-term goal was to read Livy. Would Cratylus be appropriate or realistic for such a goal, or should I put it off for the more distant future? My copy is the Loeb and not an annotated student edition, which should probably be considered.

Obviously it would take some understanding of the Greek language to read.
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Re: Cratylus

Postby mwh » Fri Nov 25, 2016 6:45 pm

Plato would make a very good medium-term goal equivalent to Livy in Latin. There’s nothing better than Plato for learning how Greek really works. I’m not so sure about the Cratylus. It’s a rather unappetizing dialogue, unless your main interest is in ancient ideas on the relationship between names and things, and even then it’s not very satisfying. Why not go for one of the major dialogues more widely read, for example the Symposium or the Phaedo (not just the beginning and end!) or some part of the very long Republic? There are good commentaries on all of these, pitched at various levels. But ancient Greek literature is very varied, even more so than Latin, and you’ll want to sample all sorts of things.
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Re: Cratylus

Postby swtwentyman » Fri Nov 25, 2016 11:04 pm

I've got a copy of Crito (together with Lysias I in the volume) and, of course, the Apology. I'm going through the Anabasis with another Textkitter (yes, still that work; we've started book III) and then my plan would probably going to be the Apology, followed by the Lysias, then Crito - do you have any thoughts on that one? I know very little about Plato's actual works besides the most well-known ones, and then mostly just the titles,.

In re Cratylus -- the boring linking-names-to-meanings is actually the appeal for me. But I do see what you're saying, and perhaps I should just read it in English. I don't want to leave it unread, and if I do read it in English it would be far easier to read the Greek if I ever do that. It looks like I'll have a lot of Plato to read regardless! Thanks.
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Re: Cratylus

Postby mwh » Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:45 pm

I nearly suggested reading a relatively short and simple dialogue first, and the Crito would suit nicely, very neatly constructed. The Cratylus really needs to be read in Greek to make much sense, but you could do it at any point with the English and Greek side by side. There was a good post on Plato’s dialogues by cb somewhere. Unlike Socrates Plato did write a lot, but of course you don’t have to read any of it unless you’re philosophically inclined. But I do recommend K.J. Dover’s Symposium.
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