Which Platonic dialogues should I read?

Years ago, I read a little anthology of some of Plato’s writings called “Five Dialogues”, but practically “forgot” Plato as soon as I finished it, or rather, I placed him in the back of my mind. Recently, I regained interest in him and bought a collection which is comprised of all his dialogues and those that were once ascribed to him, but now believed to be inauthentic. There are so many texts, in fact, that it is a little overwhelming. My prime interests in Plato are: (1) his theory of forms, so I am guessing I should look at middle period and late period texts, and (2) to be better grounded in the tradition of western thought. So if anyone who is well read in Plato can recommend what order to read the texts, I would be very grateful.


the republic is a good start


I could email you his complete works in .pdf if you want. Then you could just read them all.


Yeah, dude. If you want to read about Forms, and want to know why Plato is so influential, to this day, read The Republic. Then you will have read one more work of philosophy than most posters here have.

I can’t help but sense that sarcasm is pervading through your post, that you are in fact saying that these other posters only recommend beginning with The Republic because they haven’t actually read Plato, and that I should begin with something else. If this is not the case, then forgive me for reading the worst into your post, but if it is the case, then what do you recommend beginning with?

Parmenides talks about forms and so on. Its a little mental though, I can’t make anything of the 2nd part.

I have been unclear. Imp, for instance, is the best here at recommending the appropriate book. I have seen this many times, and commented on it - which you would not know, of course.

In fact, there is no one here who is a better pure teacher than Imp - he just doesn’t deign to do it very much. But he would be an excellent private tutor in philosophy at any level. Hmmm…

Iose I don’t know about. It takes me a long time to even recall what many posters have said in the past - many posts to form a holistic idea of what their views and skills are. I have no idea what Iose knows and doesn’t know.

Actually, I would recommend going to a used book shop and buying the cheapest volume they have of any given philosopher, if I wasn’t familiar with said philosopher. Read what seems interesting and move on past what you don’t. But I am not so interested in a thoroughgoing knowledge of the history of philosophy, so a systematic reading was never important to me.

You can also read any of several histories of philosophy, which you should also be able top buy cheap, and follow its recommendations, at least until you find out they don’t make any sense. That way, you have a running gloss to refer to as you get familar with a given writer.

Plato’s Republic was one of the first books in the western philosophy tradition that I had read. More recently I have been browsing through the Loeb Classics and also recently acquired the Dialoques of Plato.

Here’s a suggestion, at least something that’s partly interested me: Timaeus 20-27 and Critias 113-121, “Atlantis”. Atlantis has always been a bit of a fascination with people, and it’s only a few pages long in those sections in Timaeus and Critias.