Epinomis

The "Epinomis" (Greek: polytonic|Ἐπινομίς) is a dialogue in the style of Plato and traditionally included among Plato's works. Today it is widely considered spurious because of its contents and because already some ancient sources attributed it to Philip of Opus.

Title

The title "Epinomis" designates the work as an appendix to Plato's "Laws" (whose title in Greek is "Nomoi"). Our sources also make reference to it as the thirteenth book of the "Laws" (though this presupposes the division of that dialogue into twelve books, which "is probably not earlier than the Hellenistic age" [Leonardo Tarán, "Proclus on the Old Academy," in " [http://books.google.com/books?isbn=9004123040 Collected Papers 1962-1999] " (Leiden: Brill, 2001), p. 602.] ), as well as under the titles "Nocturnal Council" (because it deals with the higher education of that Council, beyond what is described in "Laws", in mathematics-based astronomy) and "Philosopher" (probably because the Nocturnal Council's members are "the counterpart of the guardians in the "Republic" who are said to be the true philosophers" [Leonardo Tarán, "Academica: Plato, Philip of Opus, and the pseudo-Platonic Epinomis" (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1975), p. 23 n. 88 and p. 132 n. 553.] ).

Dramatis personae

The persons involved in the dialogue are the same as in "Laws": Clinias of Crete, Megillus of Sparta, and an Athenian stranger.

Question of authenticity

The "Epinomis" forms part of the traditional canon of Plato's works (for example, it is included in the ninth and last of the Thrasyllan tetralogies). Already in antiquity, however, Diogenes Laertius and the sources used by the "Suda" attributed the work to Philip of Opus.

The authenticity of "Epinomis" has also been questioned on the grounds of its philosophical content. Leonardo Tarán, while finding parallels for many of the allegedly un-Platonic elements of the dialogue's style, declared it spurious based on (in the words of a sympathetic reviewer) "the much firmer ground of the misunderstanding or contradiction of Platonic doctrines, such as the placing of astronomy above dialectic as the supreme object of study, the rejection of the Ideas, the introduction of a fifth element, aether, between fire and air, and the elaborate theory of daemons inhabiting the three middle elements." [John Dillon, review of L. Tarán, "Academica: Plato, Philip of Opus and the Pseudo-Platonic Epinomis" (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1975), in "American Journal of Philology" 101 (1980), pp. 486-488.] Werner Jaeger detected the influence of Aristotle's "On Philosophy" (a lost work Jaeger believed to have been published shortly before "Epinomis" in 348/347 BC) on much of the "Epinomis", including the idea of the "fifth body." [W. Jaeger, "Aristotle: Fundamentals of the History of His Development", 2nd ed. (translated with the author's corrections and additions by R. Robinson), Oxford Univ. Press, 1948, p. 144 n. 2.]

Gerard Ledger's stylometric analysis of Plato's works supports the authenticity of "Epinomis", finding statistical similarities between this dialogue and "Laws", "Philebus", "Sophist", and "Timaeus" (as well as the "Seventh Letter"). [Charles M. Young, "Plato and Computer Dating," "Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy" 12 (1994), pp. 227-50, repr. Nicholas D. Smith (ed.), "Plato: Critical Assessments" 1 (London: Routledge, 1998), p. 35.] Holger Thesleff, who suspected that Plato collaborated with younger associates in writing many of the works attributed to him, considered the closely related style of "Laws" and "Epinomis" to be a "secretary's style." [H. Thesleff, "Platonic Chronology," "Phronesis" 34 (1989), pp. 1-26, repr. in N.D. Smith (ed.), "Plato: Critical Assessments", vol. 1 (London: Routledge, 1998), p. 60.]

Notes

External links

* [http://www.ac-nice.fr/philo/textes/Plato-Works/29-Epinomis.htm Epinomis in English]
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=dHMCAAAAQAAJ&pg=RA6-PA493 Epinomis in Greek]


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