The main problem oneimmediately faces when reading Plato is the one that came to be known as the”Socratic problem”. Almost all of the Plato’s dialogues host Socrates as thehero. Due to the absence of written material attributed the “historical (real)Socrates”, there consequently occurs a debate over whether the reader reallylistens to the historical Socrates in Platonic dialogues, or whether Plato usesSocrates as a mouthpiece to share his ideas. Historians have no way other thansketching a historical Socrates from the dialogues of his students.
There arefour main sources the historians resort to, the most important two of whichbeing a cluster of dialogues belonging to Xenophon and Plato; and the testimonyof Aristotle, in addition to a play by Aristophanes. It is a matter of debatefrom which of these sources the historical Socrates is to be drawn. Althoughthere could be said to be a current tendency to acknowledge Platonic works asauthoritative, Montouri reminds us that “…Plato does not give us a single imageof Socrates, coherent and complete, but a disconserted plurality of images…”(as cited in Dorion, 2011, p.7). Hence, it becomes twice as hard to distinguishbetween Plato and Socrates in Platonic dialogues, if possible to distinguish atall.
Nevertheless, the writer of this essay shall be making a distinctionbetween the dialogues as to whether which philosopher is really the hero. Thedialogues to be referred throughout the dialogue are the Republic, the Meno and theEuthyphro of Plato. The writer of theessay suggests that in the Euthyphroone is hearing the historical Socrates, in the Meno one is presented with both historical Socrates and Plato, andin the Republic, except for the firstbook, one is to be faced with Plato himself. (It is worth noting that while inthe Euthyphro it is claimed to behistorical Socrates speaking, the points derived will be valid for Plato’sunderstanding of philosophy as well.)