Myth, dialogue and the allegorical interpretation of Plato
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From the late Classical period until the Nineteenth Century, Plato was admired for his inspiration and vision, rather than for his theories and argumentation. Then with the advent of analytic philosophy in the Twentieth Century, the pendulum swung hard in the other direction. Plato’s myths were largely ignored. The drama of his dialogues was considered insignificant. The theory of forms and the theory of recollection (as a gloss on immortality) became the pillars of Platonism, and the journals became filled with careful, logical analyses of Platonic principles, theories, and hypotheses. Recently even mainstream Plato scholars have tried to redress the overemphasis on Platonic theory, but they have limited themselves mostly to arguing that image, myth, and characterisation are important to the interpretation of Plato in addition to concepts, theories, and dialectic. This paper argues that myth and dialogue play a much more central role in Platonic philosophy than is currently accepted. There is evidence that Plato treats the dialogues themselves as framing myths, within which all action and dialogue is treated as mimesis, rather than as direct presentation of Plato’s logoi. If this is correct, then each of Plato’s works is organised around the representation of a comprehensive poetic vision not stated in, but rather only through, the action of the dialogue.