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The best reports of these orderings (see Diogenes Laertius' discussion at 3.56-62) included many works whose authenticity is now either disputed or unanimously rejected.

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Supposedly possessed of outstanding intellectual and artistic ability even from his youth, according to Diogenes, Plato began his career as a writer of tragedies, but hearing Socrates talk, he wholly abandoned that path, and even burned a tragedy he had hoped to enter in a dramatic competition (D. He may, indeed, have written some epigrams; of the surviving epigrams attributed to him in antiquity, some may be genuine. 2.48-59, 3.34), were also well-known "Socratics" who composed such works. Kahn (1996, 1-35), concludes that the very existence of the genre—and all of the conflicting images of Socrates we find given by the various authors—shows that we cannot trust as historically reliable any of the accounts of Socrates given in antiquity, including those given by Plato.

Plato was not the only writer of dialogues in which Socrates appears as a principal character and speaker. But it is one thing to claim that Plato was not the only one to write Socratic dialogues, and quite another to hold that Plato was only following the rules of some genre of writings in his own work.

Others, including Alexamenos of Teos (Aristotle passim), Simon (D. Such a claim, at any rate, is hardly established simply by the existence of these other writers and their writings.

We may still wish to ask whether Plato's own use of Socrates as his main character has anything at all to do with the historical Socrates.

Plato is one of the world's best known and most widely read and studied philosophers. There are varying degrees of controversy over which of Plato's works are authentic, and in what order they were written, due to their antiquity and the manner of their preservation through time.

He was the student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle, and he wrote in the middle of the fourth century B. Nonetheless, his earliest works are generally regarded as the most reliable of the ancient sources on Socrates, and the character Socrates that we know through these writings is considered to be one of the greatest of the ancient philosophers.Nonetheless, it is plain that no influence on Plato was greater than that of Socrates.This is evident not only in many of the doctrines and arguments we find in Plato's dialogues, but perhaps most obviously in Plato's choice of Socrates as the main character in most of his works.Once again, however, things in Syracuse were not at all to Plato's liking.Dionysius once again effectively imprisoned Plato in Syracuse, and the latter was only able to escape again with help from his Tarentine friends ( 350a-b).Because Aristotle has no reason not to be truthful about this issue, many scholars believe that his testimony provides a solid basis for distinguishing the "Socrates" of the "early" dialogues from the character by that name in Plato's supposedly later works, whose views and arguments Aristotle suggests are Plato's own.

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