Parmenides Publishing


Titles By Patricia Curd



Platonic Patterns
A Collection of Studies by Holger Thesleff

April 2009
978-1-930972-29-2
644 pages • 6 1/4 x 9 • Paperback

$75.00
  Edward C. Halper
HOLGER THESLEFF
was born 1924 in Helsinki, Finland. He was an artillerist in the wars against the Soviets. After the war he sailed around the world as an apprentice and third mate on a square-rigger, tales of the adventures of which he published in Farewell Windjammer, Thames & Hudson, 1951.

His academic studies included Greek, Latin and Comparative Linguistics at the University of Helsinki. He completed his postgraduate studies in London (UCL) in the early 1950s and received his PhD (Helsinki) in 1954, with a thesis on intensifying expressions in ancient Greek. In addition to his many publications in Finnish and Swedish, he also authored works in English on the Greek and Latin languages. In the late 1950s, he began to study the Pythagorean literature from a Platonistic perspective (two important contributions in English, 1961 and 1965), after which he devoted his studies to Plato. 

Since 1955, Thesleff had various academic appointments in Finland, and in 1968, he was honored with the chair of Greek Philology at the University of Helsinki, from which he retired in 1987. Among his many accomplishments, he edited the complete translations of Plato in Swedish and Finnish. He is a member of various professional societies, and is a founding member of the Nordic Plato Society (Platonselskabet) since 1970, and of the International Plato Society (IPS) since 1989. He was frequently invited to international conferences in Europe, Australia, and in the United States.

This present collection includes most of his contributions to Plato studies written in English. However, he has also published numerous academic works in Swedish and Finnish on the history of ancient ideas, and especially on Plato. Among his publications is a comprehensive monograph on Plato (Platon, in Finnish, 1989, and in Swedish, 1990); and, in cooperation with Juha Sihvola, a volume on Ancient Philosophy and the History of Ideas (Antiikin historia ja aatemaailma in Finnish, 1994).

Among his hobbies are history, yachting, and spending time with his family, including his great-grandchildren.




Platonic Patterns is a reprint collection of many of Holger Thesleff's studies in Plato spanning from 1967 to 2003. It includes three books, four articles and a new introduction by the author, which sets the general outline of his interpretation of Plato. Whereas much of the scholarship on Plato has tended to operate within the frame of one language and/or a single school of thought, Thesleff constructively combines several discoveries and theories (philosophical, philological and historical) of various scholars with his own research, focusing on how Plato can be understood in his own context.

The work represents small but significant breakthroughs in research on Plato from an internationally inclusive standpoint. Having previously been published mainly in Finland by scholarly societies, availability outside the Nordic countries has, up until now, been minimal.
Thesleff employs his singular expertise of Greek language and literature to make innovative contributions to the study and interpretation of Plato. He thematically stresses the significance of the less overt elements found in Plato's dialogues, such as Plato's use of humor and his linguistic expression, while taking into account the chronology and/or the intended audience.

Thesleff brings to the study of Plato a thorough acquaintance with secondary literature, ancient and modern, strict philological discipline, and a salutary scepticism about ingrained dogmas of platonic exegesis. Well familiarized with the ‘historicist’ and the ‘modernist’ schools of interpretation, he admits, nevertheless, to being more historicist than modernist.
—Samuel Scolnicov
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The Review of Metaphysics

This volume contains three of Holger Thesleff's major works on Plato, ranging from 1967 to 1999, as well as several articles. As a source for bibliography on dating and other Platonic questions, it is unrivalled; Thesleff's deep command of the scholarship shows everywhere. For that alone, the reprinting of his work would be justified. Thesleff's work provides an acute and comprehensive critical history for important areas of Platonic scholarship.
Click here for entire article (PDF)
—Ann Michelini
The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition
Emeritus Classics
University of Cincinnati

“Thesleff's Plato studies, based on a solid philological foundation and a vast knowledge of the secondary literature, deserve to be counted among the scholarly writings that anyone working in the field needs to absorb and incorporate into their own work.  The reprint of these difficult to find essays is a splendid gift to students of Plato.”

—Lloyd Gerson
Professor of Philosophy at University of Toronto


This book brings together Holger Thesleff’s major works on Plato, written over a period of several decades, and makes them more widely available. It consists of reprints of three books and four articles, together with a new introduction by the author and a comprehensive bibliography and index. Minor revisions have been made to ensure consistency and take note of the results of more recent scholarship.
—Andrew Mason
The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition
The University of Edinburgh

"This book is admirably lucid and comprehensive [. . .]. Thesleff has provided a useful source-book.” 
—R.A.H. Waterfield
Journal of Hellenic Studies
Review of Studies in Platonic Chronology

“The author’s learning is impressive and his judgment on many points of detail sound . . . The work Mr Thesleff has done . . . on Plato as on other subjects, is of lasting importance.” 
—S.R. Slings
Mnemosyne, BRILL
Review of Studies in Platonic Chronology

“ . . . [Thesleff’s] Studies in Platonic Chronology is at the same time so rich in theory, and so encyclopedic in its treatment of chronological issues in the Platonic dialogues, ancient sources, and the modern literature that, whether or not one is eventually persuaded to accept [his] suggested sequence of dialogues, any investigator of the chronological controversies will appreciate the results of such comprehensive research . . . “
—Debra Nails
Bryn Mawr Classical Review
Review of Studies in Platonic Chronology
Professor of Philosophy at
Michigan State University

“This is an essential book for the reader who wants to know what the arguments are for adopting one rather than another account of the temporal ordering of the events in Plato’s life – mainly, of course, the order of composition of the dialogues. . . . The book contains a comprehensive survey of the multitudinous opinions that have been advanced, a critical discussion of the extent to which we can rely on what might seem to be objective tests, a coherent account of Plato’s philosophical development, and interesting and imaginative discussions of what is likely to have constituted ‘authorship’ and ‘publication’. . . [Thesleff] has written a very stimulating and very judicious, as well as a very useful, book.” 
—I.M. Crombie
The Classical Review
Review of Studies in Platonic Chronology

“This book deserves careful study. I hope, as its author does, that ‘it will provoke a discussion of Plato’s styles and lead to further analysis of them’.”
—Norman Gulley
The Classical Review
Review of Studies in the Styles of Plato

“After some 30 years of incisive intervention in Platonic scholarship, Holger Thesleff here offers us “an attempt to elaborate and ground more firmly some basic theses which I have propounded in various contexts before,” a rather modest description of what he also describes as an attempt to contribute toward “a more general agreement on how to read and interpret Plato” . . . This monograph is full of insights and thought-provoking suggestions. It can be read with considerable profit by any student of Plato.”
—Ian Mueller
The Classical Review
Review of Studies in Plato’s Two-Level Model
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at
University of Chicago

“His universality of scholarship, depth of textual knowledge, openness to new approaches, and flexibility in bringing a variety of approaches and points of view to bear on particular issues are ideals of humane learning and the opposite of the sycophancy, ideology, and demagoguery that plague our times” (viii).
—Gerald A. Press
Plato: A Guide for the Perplexed

“Thesleff’s work is intriguing . . . his interpretation seem[s] to me to have much explanatory power and to evoke interesting new lines of thought about the interrelations of Plato’s philosophical projects in the ‘middle’ and ‘late’ dialogues.”
—Scott LaBarge
The Classical Review
Review of Studies in Plato’s Two-Level Model
Professor of Philosophy
at Santa Clara University