Some Support from Computational Stylistics


Abstract


During the early 1990s I had the good fortune to be funded by a Discovery Grant from the Australian Research Council for computer-assisted linguistic research into the Platonic Corpus that would assist in evaluating theories that certain dialogues had been revised or expanded. The fundamental idea was that those who had so far used quantitative linguistic data for the study of Plato had usually been far too ready to accept every work except the very longest as belonging to a single year, and that this assumption was neither entirely credible nor agreed outside the kind of circles that prevailed in the English-speaking world. The research was too ambitious, and the signs of internal variation were too marginal to result in major publications at that time. Recently I have adapted the vocabulary-based methods of the University of Newcastle's Centre for Literary and Linguistic Computing1 for the Greek language, thinking that they might help in identifying spurious dialogues - since authorship questions had been one of their most important applications. In feet its help has been considerable, but not necessarily in ways that would have been predictable. Largely as a result of the influence of Holger Thesleff, who kindly sent me his Studies in Plato Chronology, Commentationes Humanarum Litterarum 1 in response to an article of my own, some of the issues in the forefront of my mind had been related to those of authors represented here. I here outline ways in which my results could offer these authors modest support. Sadly, it is difficult to see how they might be relevant to the fine paper of Olga Alieva, except to the extent that her advances appear to me to stem partly from the divorce of two words that have too often been combined in modern scholarship, 'Elenchus'.3 There is a strand in all these resists the construct of a 'Socratic' Plato, methods have yet succeeded in producing a purported Socratic period of Plato's 'mature' works. I briefly comment on papers, under the name of their authors.

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