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Second Alcibiades




Henry G. Bohn










Bohn's Classical Library Edition






Quoted from the Editor's "Introduction to the Second Alcibiades, On Praying."

"ALTHOUGH different scholars have arrived at different conclusions respecting the author of the First Alcibiades, yet nearly all appear to admit that the Second was not written by Plato. Clinton indeed, in Fast. Hellenic. p. 22 .5, seems to consider it genuine. For be probably did not so much forget, as designedly disregard, the statement made by Athennus in xi. p. 506, C., that the dialogue had been attributed to Xenophon. It is however quoted as Plato's by
AElian V. H. viii. 9, Priscian, p. 1148, Olympiodorus on Phileb. p. 265, and Thom. Mag. E5Xoľat. But in the last passage some MSS. rightly read ws o IUarwvidc Xdyoc 'AXKggtdanc i1r ypacoľevoc orepi IIpooevxrjc. It seems moreover to be alluded to by Juvenal in x.
346, and Persius ii . 61. But Stalbaum denies the existence of any such allusion, and conceives that the author was some philosopher of Alexandria, who lived in the second or third century before the Christian era, and who was not only ignorant of Plato's manner of carrying on a dialogue, but of the purity and peculiarities of the language spoken at Athens, which neither the philosopher himself, nor any of his contemporaries, would have failed to adopt. But as the dialogue has come down to us in rather a corrupt state, as remarked by Dobree, and that there is, according to Stalbaum himself, scarcely a sentence where something does not occur to offend, it seems hardly fair to lay upon the author all the faults to be found in the dialogue, instead of attributing some to the carelessness of transcribers, and others to the accidents of time. My own opinion is, that as Antisthenes wrote, or rather dressed up, a dialogue under the title of Alcibiades, as we learn by Diogenes Laertius ii . 61, and that the same person spoke ill of the son of Clinias, as stated by Athenseus v. 20; and as we find in this dialogue more frequent allusions to the AEsopo-Socratic fables, than are furnished by any dialogue of Plato, or separate work of Xenophon; and that Julian, in Orat. vii .
p. 390, testifies to the fact that Antisthenes was accustomed, like Xenophon, to have recourse to fables in his philosophical discourses, one may fairly assign to him the authorship of the Second Alcibiades; where he has not only represented his master as acting the part of a sensible philosopher, but Alcibiades in that of a mere ordinary man, instead of being, what he fancied he was, the the living sun of Athens and the cynosure of Greece.

With regard to the matter of the dialogue, the folly or inutility of prayer, as practised by the generality of mankind, Gottleber refers to Xenophon's M. S . i. 3, where Socrates is said to have prayed the gods simply to give what was good, leaving them to decide, as knowing better than himself, what was or was not for his good. The doctrine was adopted by Marcus Antoninus in v. 7, who says that we must either pray in general terms, or not at all; while the
latter alternative was chosen by the philosophers of Cyrene, who, as we learn from Clemens Alexandrinus in Stromat. vii. p . 722, asserted the inutility of prayer."

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