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PLA
PLA
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The best modern editions of Plato are those by Bekker, Stallbaum, and C. F. Hermann. In this country Mr. Jowett, the accomplished professor of Greek at Oxford, is superintending an edition, of which the highest expectations may be formed. Of this edition, only two dialogues, the "Philebus" and the " Theætetus," have as yet been published—the former being edited by Mr. Poste and the latter by Mr. Lewis Campbell, two thoroughly competent scholars, whose notes, philological and philosophical, are in the highest degree useful and appropriate. Schleiermacher's German, and Cousin's French translation of Plato's works, are much esteemed, and are accompanied by excellent introductions. Of the highest value, too, are Steinhart's introductions which accompany the recent German translation by Müller. Among German writers, Hegel and Zeller, Hermann, Munk and Susemihl may be mentioned as able and learned expositors of Plato. The English translation of Sydenham and Taylor has been superseded by a better one recently published by Mr. Bohn. The "Republic" has been translated with remarkable fidelity and spirit by Messrs. Vaughan and Davies of Cambridge; and Dr. Whewell has done good service to the cause of Platonic literature by abridging (with explanations) the more important "Dialogues," and clothing them in a garb of masculine and idiomatic English, which cannot fail to introduce them to many readers to whom they might otherwise have been uninteresting or inaccessible.—J. F. F.

PLATO, an Athenian poet of the old comedy, who flourished from about 427 B.C. to 389 B.C. He is known to have written about thirty plays, which are said to have been surpassed by those of Aristophanes alone. None of them are now extant, but we learn from the grammarians that they were valued for the purity of their idiom, as well as for the vigour of their satire.—D. M.

PLATON, Beffschin, metropolitan of Moscow, and a celebrated Russian preacher and theologian, was born in 1737 at the village of Tchashnikoff, where his father was priest. He was educated at the academy of Moscow, and in his twentieth year was appointed a teacher. In the following year, having entered the monastic order, the only way of access to the higher offices in the Russian church, he was made rector of the Lavra, seminary. The Empress Catherine on a visit to the Lavra, having received an address from him and heard him preach a sermon, expressed her satisfaction by appointing him preacher to the court, and religious instructor to the heir-apparent, afterwards the Emperor Paul. In 1766 he was raised to the dignity of archimandrite of the monastery of St. Sergius. Two years later he entered the synod, and in 1770 was made archbishop of Tver. It became his duty to instruct both the princesses, Paul's first and second wives, in the principles and practice of the Russo-Greek faith. In 1775 he was made archbishop of Moscow, and in 1787 metropolitan. He crowned the Emperor Alexander in 1801, and after receiving numerous decorations and marks of favour from the crown, he resigned, in 1811, his official dignities, and retired to the monastery of Bethania, where he had founded an academy. He was drawn thence once more into active life by the French invasion, when he appeared at Moscow, rousing the patriotism of his countrymen by his eloquence and his venerable character. His works have been published at Moscow in twenty volumes. He died in 1812.—R. H.

PLAUTUS, Titus Marcius, the Latin poet, was born at a village in Umbria about 254 B.C. He seems to have come to Rome at an early age, and lived there for some years in humble circumstances. About the age of thirty he is supposed to have entered on his dramatic career, shortly before the commencement of the second Punic war. He continued to write for the stage during forty years with great popular success, and died 184 B.C. His reputation as a poet continued to flourish in succeeding generations, and Cicero, in warmly extolling his excellence, expresses the universal judgment of antiquity. The somewhat disparaging language of Horace is the only exception to an otherwise unanimous admiration. Happily we are enabled to judge for ourselves of his merits, twenty of his best and most genuine comedies having come down to us. The plots and materials of his plays, Plautus, like Terence after him, borrowed from the Greek, mostly from the Athenian poets of the new comedy, especially Philemon, Diphilus, and Menander. But as none of the Greek originals are extant, it is impossible to ascertain with any precision how much he borrowed from them—how much was created by his own genius. The "Aulularia," the "Captivi," the " Miles Gloriosus," and the "Trinummus," are among the most interesting of his plays. Cicero intimates that Plautus himself regarded with especial complacency the "Pseudolus" and "Truculentus," but they are scarcely those that a modern reader would select as the most pleasing. Several of the comedies have been imitated by modern writers, as the "Menæchmi," by Shakspeare in the Comedy of Errors; the "Mostellaria," by Addison in the Drummer; the "Aulularia," by Moliere in L'Avare; while the "Pænulus" is interesting as containing almost the only specimens known to exist of the ancient Punic language. Plautus appears to have shown marvellous skill in adapting Greek scenes and persons to Roman characters. The Greeks in his plays speak, act, and jest exactly as we may suppose the Romans to have done, and there occurs scarce anything in his dramas which can have been foreign to the Romans. His personages mostly display those peculiarities of character which belonged to the ærarii, who formed a lower order in the population of Rome, and consisted chiefly of freedmen and strangers who had become naturalized, but could not rise to the rank of free Roman warriors. The scenes are la d at Athens, Epidamnus, or Ephesus, and the names of the persons are Greek, but we are reminded every moment that we are in the very heart of Rome. The parasite is, however, an exception, being a Greek and not a Roman character. His language is no less admirable than his poetical skill—being copious, powerful, and refined—a clear proof that the Latin tongue had been successfully cultivated by previous writers. Plautus is especially valuable to us on two grounds besides his intrinsic merits:—1. As the only literary monument of his age which has descended to us in anything more than a fragmentary condition; 2. As the best exponent we have of ancient Roman customs and manners. Although there are many useful editions of separate plays of Plautus, a good edition of his entire works is still a desideratum in scholarship.—G.

PLAYFAIR, John, an eminent Scottish mathematician, was born on the 10th of March, 1748, at Benvie in Forfarshire, of which his father was parish minister, and died in Edinburgh on the 19th of July, 1819. He received his early education from his father, and was then sent to the university of St. Andrews to study theology. He quit ed the university in 1773 to become assistant to his father, on whose death in 1782 he was appointed to the vacant cure. On the foundation of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1784, he became one of its members; in 1789 he was elected its secretary, and at a later period its president. In 1785 he was appointed professor of mathematics in the university of Edinburgh. In 1805 he resigned that chair, in order to become professor of natural philosophy in the same university, which latter office he held until his death. He was for a long time president of the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh, and a fellow of the Royal Society of London. His most useful mathematical work was an edition of Euclid, with notes and a supplement, which is still held in high esteem as an elementary book; the most original of the many detached mathematical papers which he published is perhaps that on Porisms. He took a strong interest in geology and philosophy, and was an ardent defender of the theory of Hutton (q.v.), of which he published a defence in 1802. He travelled in the Alps and in Italy, in order to study the geology of those regions. He was much loved and respected by his friends and neighbours. A monument to his memory stands on the Calton Hill, Edinburgh. In 1805 he published an able defence of his successor in the chair of mathematics, Leslie (q.v.) against an imputation of heresy to which the latter was subjected on account of his opinions as to the relation between cause and effect.—W. J. M. R.

PLAYFAIR, Lyon, a distinguished chemist, was born in Bengal in 1819. He is the son of Dr. George Playfair, inspector-general of hospitals in that country, and grandson of Principal Playfair of St. Andrews. After completing his school education at St. Andrews, and attending the art classes in the university of that town, he went in 1834 to Glasgow to study chemistry under Graham (now master of the mint), who at that time lectured in the Andersonian institution. He returned to India in 1838, but only remained a short time, and in the following year he went to Giessen to study under Liebig. He formed one of the active band of young chemists who, in that and the following year, investigated the chemistry of fatty bodies under Liebig. He became doctor of chemistry of the university of Giessen. He was afterwards made known as the translator of Liebig's Chemical Reports. Returning to England in 1841 he became chemical