Critias

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Book Details

Author  Plato
Publisher  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date   December 20, 2010
ISBN  1456363999
Pages  24

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Critias, one of Plato's late dialogues, contains the story of the mighty island kingdom Atlantis and its attempt to conquer Athens, which failed due to the ordered society of the Athenians. Critias is the second of a projected trilogy of dialogues, preceded by Timaeus and followed by Hermocrates. The latter was possibly never written and Critias was left incomplete. Because of their resemblance (e.g. in terms of persons appearing), modern classicists occasionally combine both Timaeus and Critias as Timaeus-Critias.From the very first comments on Timaeus and Critias in classical antiquity to the early 20th century, scholars took the identity of this Critias and the oligarch Critias for granted. The first to contradict this view was Burnet in 1914. Since then, the identity of Critias is fiercely disputed among scholars. One group of classicists still claims him to be the famous oligarch Critias, member of the Thirty Tyrants. Another suggests that this Critias is actually the grandfather of the oligarch. The latter group argues that there is too much distance of time between the oligarch Critias (460 – 403 BC) and Solon (638 – 558 BC), the famous lawmaker, who supposedly brought the Atlantis story from Egypt to Greece. According to Plato, Solon told the story to the grandfather of the Critias appearing in this dialogue, who was also named Critias, and who retold the story to his grandson. The latter group alleges that the tyrant's grandfather could not have both talked to Solon and still have been alive at the time the hypothetical discussion pictured in this dialogue was held. Thus they assume that it is the tyrant's grandfather who appears in both Timaeus and Critias, and his own grandfather, who was told the Atlantis story by Solon. On the other hand, this obviously too long time span between Solon and Critias would not be the only anachronism in Plato's work. In fact, Plato produced quite a number of anachronisms in many of his dialogues. And further, there are indications that Solon was dated later than when he actually lived by writers prior to Aristotle. This leads one to believe that Plato somewhat telescoped the happenings of the sixth century. For his purposes, Solon lived just before Anacreon, and Anacreon in turn was active in the early fifth century. The elder Critias is unknown to have achieved any personal distinction, and since he died long before Plato published the Timaeus and Critias, it would have made no sense for Plato to choose a statesman to appear in these dialogues, who was practically unknown and thus uninteresting to his contemporaries. (Wikipedia.org)

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