Greek Philology - The Platonic Seventh Letter

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Knowledge of Ancient Greek


The Seventh Platonic Letter is an extremely complex and fascinating text: it is a letter of political advice, but it is also an autobiography and an original reflection on the Platonic philosophy. There is, however, a fundamental problem: is the Seventh Letter really the work of Plato? For centuries, critics have debated the problem of the authenticity of this text without reaching a unanimous conclusion. There is no doubt that the question of authenticity does not deprive this text of interest and fascination. However, it is equally true that, depending on whether the Seventh Letter is authentic or not, the historical-cultural consequences of this fact change significantly.

Only a complete and analytical reading of this text, a reading in which language, style, history, literature and philosophy are closely intertwined may help us to solve (if that is possible) one of the greatest enigmas of ancient Greek literature.

Classes will be held between November and January. The seminars will be held in May and June. On this occasion the students will have to expound a presentation of about forty-five minutes (with subsequent discussion), mostly consisting of the analysis of a passage from the Seventh Letter and its problems. The topics of the reports and the calendar will be defined at the end of the classes. One week before the seminar, students must send the teacher a document containing the texts (with translation) that they will use in order to carry out the analysis, along with the list of the consulted bibliography.

Obiettivi formativi

Students will acquire the critical tools to analyse a text of ancient Greek literature of controversial authenticity and to take a position in relation to the problem of authenticity.

At the same time, students will become familiar with the practice of examinatio, i.e. with the systematic discussion of the genuineness of the transmitted text.

Riferimenti bibliografici

Selected bibliography (other references will be provided in class):

R.S. Bluck (ed.), Plato’s Seventh and Eighth Letters, edited with introduction and notes, Cambridge 1947.

J. Burnet (ed.), Platonis Opera, vol. V, Oxonii 1907.

M. Burnyeat, M. Frede, The Pseudo-Platonic Seventh Letter, ed. by D. Scott, Oxford 2015.

P. Butti de Lima (a cura di), Platone, L’utopia del potere (La settima lettera), Venezia 2015.

L. Edelstein, Plato’s Seventh Letter, Leiden 1966.

F. Forcignanò (a cura di), Platone, Settima lettera, introduzione, traduzione e commento, Roma 2020.

J. Harward (ed.), Plato, The Platonic Epistles, translated with introduction and notes, Cambridge 1932.

E. Howald, Die Briefe Platons, Zürich 1923.

M. Isnardi Parente (a cura di), Platone, Lettere, con traduzione di M.G. Ciani, Milano 2002.

H.T. Karsten, Commentatio critica de Platonis quae feruntur epistolis, praecipue tertia, septima et octava, Trajecti ad Rhenum 1864.

R. Knab, Platons Siebter Brief. Einleitung, Text, Übersetzung, Kommentar, Hildesheim-Zürich-New York 2006.

A. Maddalena (a cura di), Platone, Lettere, Bari 1948.

J. Moore-Blunt (ed.), Platonis Epistulae, Leipzig 1985.

G.R. Morrow, Studies in the Platonic Epistles, with a translation and notes, Urbana 1935.

F. Novotný, Platonis Epistulae commentariis illustratae, Brno 1930.

G. Pasquali, Le lettere di Platone, Firenze 1938.

L.A. Post (ed.), Thirteen Epistles, introduction, translation and notes, Oxford 1925.

J. Souilhé (éd), Platon, Œuvres completes, vol. xiii, t. i : Lettres, Paris 1926.