After a review of some general issues surrounding the interpretation of Plato's dialogues, I consider in detail the reception of Plato's Protagoras in English scholarship since 1956, that is, during the last half century. That scholarship falls into three periods. At first (1956-82) there was a sharp division between analytic philosophy commentators and other commentators, but near-unanimity in adopting a “Democritean” conception of the text as composed of discrete, separable parts. In the second period (1983-92), an “Aristotelian” conception of the text, in which functionally distinct parts coordinate with each other within a whole, became a serious rival to the Democritean one. Since 1992, several Aristotelian strategies have been developed. I diagnose these trends as an indication of growing sensitivity to the unity of Protagoras and its integration of literature and theory. I use this review to draw some morals about exegesis and scholarly specialization.

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