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“Genuine” and “Bastard” Dialogues in the Platonic Corpus: An Inquiry into the Origins and Meaning of a Concept

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on two themes: the language and images which ancient commentators used in dealing with the topic of Platonic imitations and the distinction between genuine and spurious Platonica; and the nature of those works which modern scholarship has identified as certainly or probably imitative. It investigates with a passage from Quintilian's book on rhetorical education. Although proposal to find the seeds of the metaphor of "genuine" and "bastard" compositions within the writings of Plato himself must remain in the realm of informed speculation, the chapter finds support in Harold Tarrant's attempt to trace the rationale behind the contents and order of the Thrasyllan tetralogies to the educational program which Plato presents in Republic 7. The analyses in the chapter suggest that the terms used in antiquity to designate inclusion in and exclusion from the Thrasyllan organization were not, or were not only, intended to assert authorial status.

Keywords: genuine composition; Platonica; Quintilian; Republic 7; rhetorical education; Thrasyllan organization



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