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Grant number: FEL-257881-18

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Ariel Oscar Helfer
Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI 48824-3407)

Plato's "Letters" as Political Philosophy: A New Interpretation and English Translation

A new translation and interpretation of Plato's Letters.

Plato’s Letters portrays Plato’s political entanglements through a series of thirteen letters to tyrants, friends, and other acquaintances. Modern scholars, forgetting or dismissing the judgment of ancient readers who both vouched for its Platonic authorship and extolled its philosophic merit, treat the Letters as a useful but motley collection of fragments and forgeries. I maintain that the Letters is a coherent, unitary text, conveying the author’s profound reflections on the perilous position of the philosopher who wishes to defend the justice of philosophy and providing a crucial supplement to the high-flown rhetoric of the Republic. My book, besides providing a new English translation for students who wish to recover the Letters for philosophic study, will include a commentary on the text in which I explore Plato’s understanding of the relationship between the philosophic and political lives, restoring a crucial piece of the Platonic corpus to its proper place.

Project fields:
Political Theory


Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2019 – 12/31/2019