The "Handbook of Platonism" or "Didaskalikos", attributed to Alcinous (long identified with the Middle Platonist Albinus, but on inadequate grounds), is a central text of later Platonism. In Byzantine times, in the Italian Renaissance and even up to 1800, it was regarded as an ideal introduction to Plato's thought. In fact, it is far from being this, but it is a valuable source for our understanding of Platonism in the 2nd century AD. Neglected after a more accurate view of Plato's thought established itself in the 19th century, the handbook is only now coming to be properly appreciated for what it is. It presents a survey of Platonist doctrine, divided into the topics of logic, physics and ethics, and pervaded with Aristotelian and Stoic doctrines, all of which are claimed for Plato. John Dillon presents the first English translation of Alcinous's "Handbook of Platonism", accompanied by an introduction and a philosophical commentary which reveal the intellectual background to the ideas in the work. The Handbook purports to be an introduction to the doctrines of Plato, but in fact gives us an excellent survey of Platonist thought in the second century AD. John Dillon is the author of "The Middle Platonists" (with B. O'Hehir), "A Classical Lexicon to `Finnegans Wake'" and "The Golden Chain: Studies in the Development of Platonism and Christianity", as well as scholarly editions of "Iamblichus's Commentaries on Plato", Philo Judaeus's Treatises", "Iamblichus's `On the Pythagorean Way of Life'", "Proclus's commentary on Plato's `Parmenides'" and "Dexippus's Commentary on Aristotle's `Categories'".
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