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Plato: Phaedrus Revised ed. Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521612593
ISBN-10: 0521612594
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Language Notes

Text: English, Greek --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A new edition, with Greek text and Commentary, primarily intended for advanced undergraduates and graduate students of ancient Greek literature and philosophy, although also useful for scholars who want an up-to-date account of how to understand the text, argument, style and background of the work.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Revised ed. edition (June 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521612594
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521612593
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,051,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this review I will compare 3 editions of Plato's Phaedrus:
1. Alexander Nehamas & Paul Woodruff (Hackett Pub Co, 1995).
2. Stephen Scully (Focus Pub/R.Pullins Co , 2003).
3. James Nichols (Cornell University Press, 1998).
I have given all 3 editions 5 stars for their own unique perspectives.
Throughout the centuries, scholars have debated on what exactly is the central theme of Phaedrus: is it a dialogue about rhetoric? Or is it about Love? Or perhaps it is about both? If so, how are we supposed to understand the connection between Rhetoric and Love? The book itself is divided into 2 parts: the first part is about Love and the second is about Rhetoric, and because of this division in the book that it generated a lively discussion about Rhetoric versus Love.
The 3 editions I review here provided 3 unique perspectives.
Nichols argues strongly that Phaedrus is definitely about Rhetoric, in fact he links Phaedrus to Gorgias. His argument is that in Gorgias, Plato discusses Rhetoric in relations to justice, and in Phaedrus, he discusses Rhetoric in relations to Love. Love, therefore is a subordinate subject to Rhetoric.
Similarly, Nehamas also argues that Phaedrus is about Rhetoric albeit not as strongly as Nichols. It is a "sustained discussion of Rhetoric" in which Plato used Eros as examples. (xxxviii)
Scully's interpretation is slightly different; this is where I find my own position to be closer to. His argument is that Love and Rhetoric are equal parts of Plato's Phaedrus. This unity is possible because "both [love and rhetoric] requires the philosopher at the helm. As a lover, the philosopher guides the soul of the beloved, as a rhetorician, he guides the soul of his partner in conversation.
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Format: Paperback
The central problem to any work of literature or philosophy is that of contextualization. Authors do not write in a cultural vacuum by rather in a complex socio-cultural milieu. The further we are removed in time from the author the more out of context the work appears. Plato wrote the Phaedrus for a fifth century BC audience but we as modern readers are no longer familiar with the culture, language, mores, religion, and values of that period.

Scully’s version of the Phaedrus is a masterpiece of modern scholarship. His lucid introduction sets the stage and background for the dialogue. He clearly articulates the practice of pederasty that would have been easily recognizable to Plato’s contemporaries but is completely foreign to us. His footnotes combined are probably longer than the text itself. They include clarification of cultural practices, ancient Greek technological innovations, religious practices, politics, historical figures, problems with translations, and much more.

Scully says, “the two main themes of the Phaedrus are rhetoric and love, and therein lies the difficulty.” He takes each major section of the dialogue and puts in back into context and in doing so he clearly demonstrates the relationship between the two thereby putting an end to the critics of the Phaedrus who claim that the dialogue is disjointed, or is “ruptured”. Scully’s brilliant scholarship puts Plato’s masterpiece into context so that as modern readers we can appreciate Plato’s brilliance.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I suppose I should start by establishing the fact that I am anything but an expert on Plato. When persuing my undergraduate degree in philosophy 30+ years ago, I read most of the dialogues and found them uninspiring, indeed, some like The Parminedes I found to be incomprehensible.
All these years later, I have come to believe that without an understanding of Plato, one cannot understand the story of Western Culture. And so I have been trying to reread Plato with mixed results.

I have never read any of his dialogues that I enjoyed as much as Scully's edition of Phaedrus. I have no Greek, I cannot assure you that it is a accurate translation. I can tell you that this is the first time I wanted to see the dialogue performed by really good actors. There are moments of great beauty in this dialogue- in the setting, the words and the thought.
As pointed out by the other reviewers, there has been much debate on the central theme of this dialogue. Scully does an excellent job of explaining the different interpretations that other translators or scholars have brought to their readings and how his differs. So among other graces, Scully serves as an introduction to the literature around the dialogue and influenced by the dialogue (he offers passages by Shakespeare, Donne and Eliot as examples of that influence).

I find myself swayed by what Scully sees as the central theme in the dialogue- the turning of the soul back toward its true understanding and nature.
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