Plato's Epistles are among the most disputed texts of antiquity. Were they written by Plato? Some of them? all? none? Answers have varied wildly: at times all thirteen have been declared forgeries, alien to the thought and character of the Plato we know from the dialogues; at other times, the whole set has been accepted as a genuine, if unexpected, revelation of the life and preoccupations of Plato as a man. Since this debate has so far proved intractable, I would like to take a different approach to the question. The Epistles themselves raise obsessively the question of authenticity. If, laying aside all issues of provenance for the time being, we read the thirteen letters as a corpus (whether by Plato or someone else), what emerges from this philosophical ‘text’ is the impossibility of an authentic written philosophy and of an authoritative self-present philosopher.