Read The Great Books

A Curated Guide for Autodidacts


by Plato

One of Plato’s great works, Phaedrus is one of the dialogues written to help better explain the philosophers thoughts. This text, as well as the rest of the dialogues, have been hailed as key writings on the basis of western thinking.

This dialogue pairs up with one of his other works, Symposium, on discussion of love. This book however has a more pointed focus on love on the facet of eroticism. Also discussed are ethical topics, rhetoric, and even the ancient philosopher’s thoughts on reincarnation. As with his other dialogues, Phaedrus is written in the form of a conversation, which means a solidly translated edition is a must.

Of such editions, Hackett Classics holds what is arguably one of the most pure. It keeps notes at the bottom of the page to avoid breaking up the flow of the original writing. On top of that, great care has been taken to translate the wording from the original Greek to English without losing the quality of the word choice the author intended. While normally this would be a great thing for such an old text, here it comes with some setbacks. This text has some argument surrounding it when it comes to the versions that have survived, often including repeats and gaps tat don’t always make sense. Knowing that, context and further notation would be good with this book. Penguin has a version with just such notes. If you want a bit more context and explanation of the text without begin bogged down I would look at this copy. However, if you want a copy with all the notation and context you could handle check out Oxford World Classics is your holy grail. Plenty of time is taken to explain not only Plato’s thoughts in detail by academics today, but also the issues that surround the translation.