Quoted from the Editor's "Introduction to the Rivals."
"This is another of the dialogues considered to be spurious by the generality of modern scholars; and even with Thrasyllus, who lived in the time of Augustus, its genuineness was a matter of doubt, as we learn from Diogenes Laertius ix. 37. Sydenham, however, was so impressed with the conviction of its being really the production of its reputed author, as to remark, that although the dialogue is short, it is nevertheless of considerable value, and exhibits "a fair sample of the rich and plentiful repast provided by Plato in his longer productions; and it has this singular beauty, that the figures of the persons brought forwards are sketched in so exact and lively a manner, that painting itself could scarcely surpass it." On the other hand Stalbaum asserts, while confessing that it exhibits a style of writing at once so pure, chaste, and elegant, as to put it on a par with the writings of Plato and Xenophon, that its matter is such as fully to justify its repudiation by Boeckh, Schleiermacher, Ast,and others while as regards the notion that Democritus was perhaps one of the anonymous persons alluded to in the dialogue, Stalbaum says it is too absurd to be entertained for a single moment. For he doubtless remembered, although he says nothing to that effect, that, according to Diogenes Laertius, Demetrius Phalereus had denied that Democritus ever visited Athens.
The title of the dialogue is generally 'Epaorai, "the Lovers:" and so it is quoted by Olympiodorus. But Proclus calls it'Avrepaarai, "the Rival Lovers;" and this is the name it ought to bear, as shown by the testimony of competent witnesses, produced by Menage on Diog. L. iii. 5, and his decision has been adopted by all subsequent scholars.
The object of the dialogue is to show, that they, who profess to know just so much of difficult arts and sciences as is suited to a person of liberal education, possess that very kind of knowledge, which to all practical purposes is perfectly useless.
The most recent English translation of this dialogue, as far as I know, is to be found in an anonymous work, published at London in 1827, under the title of "A Narrative of an Excursion from Corfu to Smyrna." Like Shelley, in the case of the Banquet and the Ion, the author has been more anxious to give an elegant than a close translation."