Dramatic and comic exuberance of the Euthydêmus. Judgments of various critics
Dramatic vivacity, and comic force, holding up various persons to ridicule or contempt, are attributes which Plato manifests often and abundantly. But the dialogue in which these qualities reach their maximum, is, the Euthydêmus. Some portions of it approach to the Nubes of Aristophanes: so that Schleiermacher, Stallbaum, and other admiring critics have some difficulty in explaining, to their own satisfaction, how Plato, the sublime moralist and lawgiver, can here have admitted so much trifling and buffoonery. Ast even rejects the dialogue as spurious; declaring it to be unworthy of Plato and insisting on various peculiarities, defects, and even absurdities, which offend his critical taste. His conclusion in this case has found no favour: yet I think it is based on reasons quite as forcible as those upon which other dialogues have been condemned: upon reasons, which, even if admitted, might prove that the dialogue was an inferior performance, but would not prove that Plato was not the author.
Scenery and personages
Sokrates recounts (to Kriton) a conversation in which he has just been engaged with two Sophists, Euthydêmus and Dionysodorus, in the undressing-room belonging to the gymnasium of the Lykeium. There were present, besides, Kleinias, a youth of remarkable beauty and intelligence, cousin of the great Alkibiades—Ktesippus, an adult man, yet still young, friend of Sokrates and devotedly attached to Kleinias—and a crowd of unnamed persons, partly friends of Kleinias, partly admirers and supporters of the two Sophists.