The Classical Quarterly (New Series)

Research Article

Proleptic Composition in the Republic, or Why Book 1 was Never a Separate Dialogue

Charles H. Kahna1

a1 University of Pennsylvania

Old scholarly myths die hard. It was K. F. Hermann, the discoverer of the ‘Socratic period’ in Plato's development, who first proposed (in 1839) that Book 1 of the Republic must originally have been an earlier, independent dialogue on justice, parallel to the Laches on courage, the Euthyphro on piety, and the Charmides on temperance. Hermann also introduced the separatist enterprise of analysing the rest of the Republic into three or four distinct compositional stages. Analytical proposals of this sort were then formulated by a number of other scholars, including Krohn, Usener, and Rohde. The notion of an earlier, partial publication seemed to be supported by two bits of external evidence: a statement in Aulus Gellius that ‘about two books’ (duo fere libri) of Plato's Republic were the first to appear; and a number of striking parallels on the community of women between Republic 5 and Aristophanes' Ekklesiazousai, produced c. 392 B.C.