Second Letter (Plato)

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The Second Letter of Plato, also called Epistle II or Letter II, is an epistle that tradition has ascribed to Plato, though some scholars consider it a forgery. In the Stephanus pagination, it spans III. 310b–315a.

The Second Letter is addressed to Dionysius II of Syracuse in response to a supposed complaint he lodged against Plato and his associates that they were slandering him. The letter disclaims any responsibility for these slanders and further denies that Plato has even heard of them occurring. It then counsels Dionysius that a concern for his reputation after his death should incline him to repair his relationship with Plato, since the interactions of political men with the wise is a topic of constant discussion. From this subject, the letter turns to an enigmatic discussion of "the First," in which Plato warns Dionysius to never write these doctrines down and to burn this letter upon committing its contents to memory. The Second Letter is the source of the oft-cited remark that "no writing of Plato exists or ever will exist, but those now said to be his are those of a Socrates become beautiful and new (καλός καί νέος)".[1]

R. G. Bury argues of the Second Letter that it is "fairly certain" that it is inauthentic, based primarily upon conflicts he sees between "the general tone" and Plato's Seventh Letter.[2] He considers it to be by the same author as the Sixth Letter.[3]

See also


  1. Plato, Epistle II, 314c
  2. Bury, Epistle II, 398.
  3. Bury, Epistle VI, 454–5.


  • Bury, R. G., ed. (1942) Timaeus, Critias, Cleitophon, Menexenus, Epistles. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.