This of itself would prove that Schleiermacher, with whom mod ern critical study of Plato begins, went astray in assuming that Plato started his career with a ready-made complete "system" to be disclosed. We must expect to find in his writings evidence of the development of his mind. But if we are to read the develop ment aright we must have some trustworthy way of determining the order of the dialogues. Plato himself has only given us the 'The most dubious are also the best known. That on Agathon (imi tated by Shelley, "Kissing Helena") and that on Alexis and Phaedrus are condemned by the occurrence of the names Agathon and Phaedrus. They are obviously suggested by the parts played by the tragic poet Agathon and Phaedrus of Myrrhinus in the Symposium and Phaedrus. The author has forgotten that both were grown men in Plato's child hood. This suggests suspicion of all the "amatory" verses. The syntax of the first of the epigrams on Aster is also singular.
scantiest indications of the order. He has linked the Sophistes and Politicos externally with the Theaetetus as professed continuations of the conversation reported in that dialogue ; he has also, as most students recognize, linked up the Timaeus in the same way with the Republic. Aristotle adds one other piece of information, that the Laws were written of ter the Republic. Further investigation of the problem opens in 1867 with L. Campbell's edition of the Sophistes and Politicus, and the work thus begun was continued by others, notably W. Dittenberger, C. Ritter and W. Lutoslawski.
By consideration of numerous independent stylistic criteria (for which see the works named at the end of this article), it has been definitely established that the dialogues Sophistes, Politicus, Phil ebus, Timaeus (with its fragmentary sequel Critias), Laws, form a distinct linguistic group, which must belong to the later years of Plato's life, as we might have presumed from the consideration that Socrates, the central figure of other dialogues, becomes, in those of this group (with a solitary exception for the Philebus, the one member of the group which is wholly preoccupied with ethics) , a secondary personage, and disappears altogether from the Laws. The whole group must therefore be later than the Sophistes, which professes to be a sequel to the Theaetetus. Now the Theae tetus can be dated with some accuracy, since it commemorates the recent death of the eminent mathematician after whom it is named from disease and injury contracted in a campaign before Corinth, which, as elaborately proved by Eva Sachs (de Theaeteto Athen iensi, Berlin, 1914), must be that of 369 B.c. The dialogue may
thus be safely ascribed to 368-367, the eve of Plato's departure for Syracuse, and the marked change of style visible in the Sophistes is best explained by the supposition that there was a break in Plato's literary activity during the years 367-360 when he was specially occupied with Sicilian affairs. So much may be regarded as fairly certain.
In point of fact, there is not complete agreement between the arrangements proposed by different "stylometrists," and their advocates have usually eked out the strictly philological argument by more or less dubious assumptions about the development of Plato's thought, though it is very questionable whether any real development can be traced before the Theaetetus and Perhaps all that can be said with certainty is that the great out standing dialogues, Symposium, Phaedo, Republic (and the writer of this article would be inclined to add Protagoras), in which Plato's dramatic power is at its highest, mark the culmination of this first period of literary activity. The comparative decline of dramatic power, accompanied by compensating maturity of criti cal acumen is the most striking contrast between the dialogues of the second and those of the first A good account of the work done by the "stylometrists" will be found in H. Raeder, Platons philosophische Entwickelung (1905).