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Translated by Benjamin Jowett
The Statesman, also known by its Latin title, Politicus, is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato. The text describes a conversation among Socrates, the mathematician Theodorus, another person named Socrates (referred to as "Young Socrates"), and an unnamed philosopher from Elea ...
Translated by Benjamin Jowett
The Statesman, also known by its Latin title, Politicus, is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato. The text describes a conversation among Socrates, the mathematician Theodorus, another person named Socrates (referred to as "Young Socrates"), and an unnamed philosopher from Elea referred to as "the Stranger". It is ostensibly an attempt to arrive at a definition of "statesman," as opposed to "sophist" or "philosopher" and is presented as following the action of the Sophist.
According to John M. Cooper, the dialogue's intention was to clarify that to rule or have political power called for a specialized knowledge. The statesman was one who possesses this special knowledge of how to rule justly and well and to have the best interests of the citizens at heart. It is presented that politics should be run by this knowledge, or gnosis. This claim runs counter to those who, the Stranger points out, actually did rule.
Those that rule merely give the appearance of such knowledge, but in the end are really sophists or imitators. For, as the Stranger maintains, a sophist is one who does not know the right thing to do, but only appears to others as someone who does. The Stranger's ideal of how one arrives at this knowledge of power is through social divisions. The visitor takes great pains to be very specific about where and why the divisions are needed in order to properly rule the citizenry.
“Having taught Plato's dialogues in my classes over the past forty-three years to upper level undergraduates, I can especially appreciate the value of this new edition of Plato's Statesman. The three translators have paid very close attention to the amazing fecund versatility of the Greek text, producing a translation that is as accurate and lively as possible and the best currently available for classroom use. The interpretative essay is unique in its highlighting of all of the issues that a thoughtful reader should be led to consider concerning this work. As has been the case with other works by these translators, the glossary leads any Greek-less reader as close as possible to the interconnections of the major words that sustain the flow and eddies of this perennially fascinating work.”
—Donald Lindenmuth, The Pennsylvania State University
“All serious students of Plato will want to obtain this book. Brann, Kalkavage, and Salem have provided all the tools one needs--short of a knowledge of ancient Greek--to undertake in-depth study of this enormously important, complex, and fascinating dialogue.”
—Jacob Howland, University of Tulsa
Theodorus: And soon, Socrates, you’ll owe triple that, once they’ve worked out the statesman and the philosopher for you.
Socrates: Come now, is that how we’re going to say we’ve heard it put, my dear Theodorus, by the one mightiest at calculations and geometrical matters?
Theodorus: How so, Socrates?
Socrates: Because you set down each of the men as of equal worth, though in honor they stand farther apart from one another than accords with any proportion in your art.