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4.7 out of 5 stars
Complete Works
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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on 23 May 2010
It took me months to read through all the way to the end (I also take notes as I read) but I got there in the end. I found the short introductions to each piece extremely helpful for putting the dialogues into context as well as stimulating my own thoughts about the text as a whole. It's a fantastic journey as you sink into the wisdom that lies within the dialogues. In the end, of course, you are left to decide for yourself. There is no doubt about the fact that Plato is a genius. The build-up toward "The Republic" is so intellectually intense, as you are left with so many unanswered questions from the previous dialogues, that when it finally comes to reading "The Republic" you will feel like a ton of wisdom has just exploded in your face. You will come to appreciate the subtleties of the philosopher's style and the kind of wisdom Plato is hinting at with even the tiniest of details once you have been "initiated" by the "earlier" dialogues. Much of Plato's works are also, in one way or another, hinted at throughout many of the great books and disciplines of today. There is something deep and special about Plato's dialogues. Not only are they enjoyable to read but they are intellectually stimulating. May they enlighten you and help you to think for yourself.
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80 of 83 people found the following review helpful
This is a gorgeous, excellent and complete edition of all works which are generally ascribed to Plato, or attributed to him in antiquity. But it's too big to read in the bath, which is the ideal place to read Greek philosophers.

It is the only complete works of its kind, and most of the translations were commissioned specially for it. It contains a mercifully short introduction, which is primarily an introduction to the volume as presented, not an introduction to Plato (more on that in a moment), brief introductions to each work, a fairly minimalist approach to footnotes - largely confined to textual or translation notes, references to ancient authors, and a very few essential explanations - and a good index. Interestingly, it contains a page telling you that the typeface is Palatino, which is a good choice, followed by fifteen blank pages. Again, mercifully, they have not printed 'notes' above these blank pages, since no-one should really be encouraged to write in this beautiful volume.

Alfred North Whitehead* suggested that the entire history of Western Philosophy was a set of footnotes to Plato. The publishers have wisely decided to follow Plato's pupil Aristotle's premise that only those things should be included which could not be left out, since if they had chosen to include all those things which could be usefully added, the book would run to many volumes and would lose most of its usefulness. Even so, at 1850 or so pages, this is about as big as any volume can usefully be if you intend to read it rather than just occasionally refer to it.

At the age I am now at, I am astonished that nobody made me read Plato at school. It seems to me that I would have done much better both at A-level and university if I had read it, and would not have airily referred to 'Platonism' or 'Platonic' as if it could all be summed up on one side of a sheet of A4, and everyone would know exactly what I was talking about. I suspect, though, that the sheer scale of his works was one of the reasons why nobody did.

And this is, as I have probably already alluded to, the problem with a complete works of this kind: it is too heavy to read in the bath, or on the train, and exudes the kind of presence that one would naturally ascribe to 'great philosophy'. This is regrettable: Plato's Socrates is one of the freshest, most direct and appealing characters in all of literature. He leaps straight off the page, jumping through two thousand four hundred years of history as if it were nothing. He is never dry, never dull, and never anything other than surprising.

Because of its size and price, this book is probably going to be bought by academics who already know what it contains, and libraries, and, worst of all, be a standard on the list of school or university prizes. This is a pity: I would genuinely recommend it to any enquiring mind, but especially to the under 20s, who are in many ways Socrates's intended audience. And herein lies the paradox. We come to this volume to find Plato, but we stay to spend time with Socrates.

--
*Thanks Sam C for the correction
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 18 July 2011
This book is a joy to have and hold, and even better to read. I'm pacing myself, from first page to last, in small sittings. The old "little and often" approach. It is a great relief to actually have a book that has everything by the father of philosophy. The quality of the print, layout, index, notes, everything, is as it should be in a book of this magnitude. Amazing. No budding philosopher should be without this ancient tomb of wisdom.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2011
Plato's works speak for themselves. I know you can get a lot of the material for free on the internet or in little (and cheaper pamphlets) but frankly the hardback is put together wonderfully, making it a joy to find what you want all in one place. It is a wonderful addition to any bookshelf and great to dive into every now and then. I used this as an MA Philosophy student and it was a constant companion during my Greek Philosophy modules.
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69 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on 28 April 1999
One of the most comprehensive collections available, this edition includes works of disputed origin, which should be of interest nonetheless to the proper philosopher, since they remain equally interesting, even if not so clearly attributable to Plato. This new translation also includes copious footnotes explaining much of the multifaceted complexities that are present in the ancient Greek language.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2009
For the price this book is outstanding, worth way more if you consider how much each individual work of Plato's would cost. Includes pretty much everything he wrote (or at least what he was accredited), and contains plenty of really useful liner notes for those not too well-up on Greek History or Philosophy. I'm sure plenty of other reviews would be more in depth so I'll keep this one brief. In short, a fantastic read by a genius mind. Highly recommended.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
This is the edition of Plato that you would have as required reading on an English medium Greek philosophy course. All the texts are translated and annotated by the relevant experts. In an ideal world you would have some kind of interlinear translation provided from the original Greek on the page facing the Greek translation, rather like the Interlinear New Testament as well as the translation into English prose. But then it would be incredibly expensive and very big I suppose.

Anyway if you like Plato, this is the one! Though it is very large. If you were interested in a particular text, e.g. The Republic, and were planning to read it on the train, you might be better off with buying the Penguin or Wordsworth el cheapo editions that you can carry around with you. This one is quite big.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 July 2014
Forget Shakespeare and the bible; if I were to be shipwrecked on a desert island and only had room to take one book with me, this would be it. Plato is, in my opinion, the world's greatest philosopher and not only does this book contain all his known works, but also all those attributed to him. The translations are very good - and, of course, that's what you're paying for. As much as I admire Benjamin Jowett, his translations can be a bit muddled. In addition, each work is prefaced with a short introduction and there are, as one would expect, footnotes.

If you are new to Plato, you might like to read this book in conjunction with the relevant chapters in either Bertrand Russell's 'History of Western Philosophy' (my favourite book about philosophy) or Peter Adamson's more recent 'Classical Philosophy: A History of Philosophy Without any Gaps, Volume 1'.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 2010
At just over 20 quid for 1800 pages this is by far the most economical way to buy Plato. The only downside is that it is not a full critical edition, for which you'd have to go to other publishers and buy several volumes at a much higher price. If you don't need the critical notes, you can't go wrong with this one.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2014
The opening words of the text are as follows: 'What's new, Socrates', which puts one almost simultaneously in Ancient Greece and an 80s sitcom. The other translations are not much better. Why translators of philosophy cannot, in my experience, write in a manner suitable to the nobility of their profession, I cannot understand.

If the texts themselves are difficult and jarring to read in this way, then it is close to impossible to progress any further to the book's other qualities which, from these positive reviews which surround mine, I am led to believe are very good. I hope that my opinion on just the stylistic problems alone could be of value to some. Such a warning would have kept me from purchasing it.
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