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Phaedo (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 26 Feb 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (26 Feb. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019953893X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199538935
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 1 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 164,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Plato (c. 427-347 BC), was an Athenian philosopher-dramatist. Born into a wealthy and prominent family, he grew up during the conflict between Athens and the Peloponnesian states which engulfed the Greek world from 431 to 404 BC. Following its turbulent aftermath, he was deeply affected by the condemnation and execution of his revered master Socrates (469-399) on charges of irreligion and corrupting the young. In revulsion from political activity, Plato devoted his life to the pursuit of philosophy. Plato founded the Academy, an early ancestor of the modern university, devoted to philosophical and mathematical enquiry, and to the education of future rulers or 'philosopher-kings'. The Academy's most celebrated member was the young Aristotle (384-322), who studied there for the last twenty years of Plato's life. Their works mark the highest peak of philosophical achievement in antiquity, and both continue to rank among the greatest philosophers of all time.

Product Description


The new translation is freer in some places making it more accessible to those encountering Plato for the first time. An essential book for those who desire an introduction to Platonic philosophy. (The Greek Gazette)

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First Sentence
Echecrates. Were you there with Socrates yourself, Phaedo,* on the day he drank the poison* in the prison, or did you hear of it from someone else? Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ms J. Goddard on 12 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a must have for anyone reading philosophy. It it a narrative of the death of Socrates which allows for final discussions on death, the afterlife, the soul and the body. It raises issues that we are still discussing today and can perform well as a platform for discussion. Excellent.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Immortal 4 Sept. 2009
By Steiner - Published on
Format: Paperback
Plato's Phaedo is perhaps the most famous meditation on death and immortality in all of Western philosophy. It laid the basis for much of Christian theology and is perhaps the definitive text on the problem of body and soul. Socrates, while confronted with immanent death by poisoning, seeks to appease his interlocutors by demonstrating the immortality of the soul. This is a dialectical presentation of Plato's doctrine of the 'forms' in perhaps its clearest formulation. According to the Platonic doctrine of soul and body: "when the soul and body are together, nature orders the one to be subject and to be ruled, and the other to rule and be master." This is a timeless and crucially important dialogue in the Platonic corpus. It is also among the most cogent and readable.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Great, but why not buy a collection? 20 April 2010
By Bill R. Moore - Published on
Format: Paperback
"Phaedo" is one of Plato's best and most important works. Though well worth reading by itself, the fact that it is widely anthologized - e.g., in The Trial and Death of Socrates - makes it very hard to justify a standalone.

Though apparently early and not as complex or philosophically influential as later ones, "Phaedo" is immensely important in portraying Socrates' death. Along with the aforementioned dialogues, it is our clearest picture of the historical Socrates and would be invaluable for this alone. Indeed, I have read hundreds - perhaps thousands - of books, and this is one of my ten or so favorites, mostly because of how moving the depiction of the great man's last days is. The story of Socrates' last moments is part of world literature's very fabric, an immortal part of Western cultural heritage. However, the works have great value even aside from this; a few have indeed questioned their historical veracity. This does not affect their philosophical, literary, and political worth, which is of the highest, making the book doubly essential.

"Phaedo" ostensibly details Socrates' last moments, including his last look at his wife and child, his last dialogue, his last words to friends, and his actual death. A large part of Socrates' image comes from this, and its potential historical value is inconceivable, though its historicity can easily be doubted since the work itself strongly suggests that Plato was not there. Even so, it is likely accurate in regard to the things that really matter and certainly a fine account of how it very well could have been. It is extremely moving; shot through with pathos, it is one of the most affecting things I have ever read. One can surely not read it without being overcome by emotion; I can hardly even think of it without misty eyes. Anyone who respects and admires this central Western civilization figure will be profoundly touched; his famous last words seem comic out of context but are very much otherwise here, telling us much about Socrates and moving us yet further. This would be one of the greatest works of all-time if it had no other aspect, but it is also a fine dialogue appropriately dealing mostly with death. Plato examines perennial questions like the soul's immortality and metempsychosis very thoroughly and thought-provokingly, and the conclusion - unsurprisingly, given the circumstances - has uncharacteristic certainty. It may not convince our cynical, empiricist, science-loving, twentieth century-surviving age, but the argument is certainly well-made and in many ways admirable. The dialogue touches on other important subjects also and is generally seen as the culmination of Plato's early, Socrates-centered thought.

The ever-important translation issue must also be kept in mind. It goes without saying that anyone who cares about intellectual issues, especially applied ones, must know Plato, as should anyone who wants to be even basically well-read. However, this is far easier said than done for most; he is so different from what now passes for literature, to say nothing of pop culture, that he is virtually inaccessible to general readers. Yet the importance of persevering cannot be overemphasized; the payoff is well worth the effort. As nearly always in such cases, reading him becomes far easier after the initial difficulty; no attentive reader will ever think Plato easy reading, but he is utterly absorbing once we get used to his style. He has a near-poetic beauty that all agree has never even been remotely approached in philosophy, and such mesmerizing prose is rare in any genre. His dialogues are an incredible form at once intellectually and aesthetically pleasing - an inspired combination that has perhaps never been bettered; many have appropriated it, but none have matched it. All this means that picking the right translation is probably more important with Plato than any other writer. For the average reader, the more recent, the better is generally true, though older translations like W. H. D. Rouse's and Benjamin Jowett's are still very accessible. The important thing is to read Plato in some form, and those who happen on a translation that does not work for them should keep trying until their mind opens in a truly new way - and once done, it will never close again.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Plato's Phaedo 25 Feb. 2012
By JavaGuy147 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Plato's Phaedo is a classic. This review is focused more on what makes this book different from others, which is it's commentary. It contains comments on plot meanings, word meanings, literature references, and more. Only thing I did not like about the book was that the commentary is in the back, so if want to read the commentary right after reading the line or paragraph it is about you need to keep flipping back and forth in the book. I would have rather had the comments at the bottom of the page.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Fine in its own right 20 Dec. 2014
By km - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Kindle version is not David Gallop but the old Jowett translation, also available free. Fine in its own right, but not what I intended to get.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Great 12 Jan. 2013
By Kari - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The product came as described and actually arrived early! I am very pleased with this purchase. I'm very happy overall.
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