John Burnet (classicist)

John Burnet (classicist)

John Burnet (December 9, 1863 – May 26, 1928) was a Scottish classicist.

Education, Life and Work

Burnet was educated at the Royal High School, Edinburgh, the University of Edinburgh, and Balliol College, Oxford, receiving his M.A. degree in 1887. From 1890 to 1915, he was a Fellow at Merton College, Oxford; he was a professor of Latin at Edinburgh; from 1892 to 1926, he was Professor of Greek at the University of St. Andrews. He became a Fellow of the British Academy in 1916. In 1909, Burnet was offered, but did not accept, the Chair of Greek at Harvard University.

In 1894, he married Mary Farmer, the daughter of John Farmer, who wrote the Preface for a collection of essays published after his death, "Essays and Addresses".

Burnet is best known for his work on Plato, particularly his argument that the depiction of Socrates in "all" of Plato's dialogues is historically accurate, and that the philosophical views peculiar to Plato himself are to be found only in the so-called late dialogues. Burnet also maintained that Socrates was closely connected to the early Greek philosophical tradition, now generally known as Pre-Socratic philosophy; Burnet believed that Socrates had been in his youth the disciple of Archelaus, a member of the Anaxagorean tradition (Burnet 1924, vi).

Burnet's philological work on Plato is still widely read, and his editions have been considered authoritative for 100 years. His commentaries on Plato's "Euthyphro", "Apology", and "Crito" and on the "Phaedo" also remain widely used and respected by scholars. Myles Burnyeat, for example, calls Burnet's "Plato: Euthyphro, Apology of Socrates, Crito" "the still unsurpassed edition". [p. 2 n. 5, "The Impiety of Socrates", "Ancient Philosophy" 17 (1997): 1-12.]


Major works

*"Early Greek Philosophy." London and Edinburgh: A. and C. Black, 1892. 4th edition, 1930.
** [ An online text of the 3rd edition (1920) of Early Greek Philosophy]
*"Greek Philosophy: Thales to Plato." London, MacMillan, 1920.
*"Platonism". Berkeley: University of California Press, 1928.
*"Higher Education and the War", 1917.
*"Essays and Addresses", 1930, includes a memoir by Godfrey Rathbone Benson.
** [ "The Socratic Doctrine of the Soul"] , 1916.

Editions edited and annotated by Burnet

*"The Ethics of Aristotle". London: Methuen, 1900. [ PDF]
*"Platonis Opera: Recognovit Brevique Adnotatione Critica Instruxit" (as Ioannes Burnet). Oxford: Oxford Classical Texts, 1900–1907.
*"Plato: Phaedo." Oxford: Clarendon, 1911.
*"Plato: Euthyphro, Apology of Socrates, Crito." Oxford: Clarendon, 1924.

ee also

*"The Dictionary of British Classicists", ed. Robert Todd, Bristol: Thoemmes Continuum, 2004.

External links

* [ Works by John Burnet] at the Internet Archive
* John Burnet, "Early Greek Philosophy", online text:


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