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Topic: Plato: Translations & Their Histories

Gwen Parker
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There are only 10 Greek manuscripts in existence of Caesar's Gallic Wars, and none of them are older than the 10th century AD! This means that for 1000 years, copies of the book were made, and mistakes and corrections and emendations were introduced, and parts were rewritten by disagreeing historians. This means that even if all 10 copies of the text that do exist agree with one another, you still could never know if those are the same words Caesar wrote. There are only 2 copies of Tacitus' Annals, and they too are 950 years more recent than when Tacitus originally wrote the document (and it also might be added that great portions of the document are known to be missing). There are only 7 copies of Plato's writings, and 20 of Livy. (It is interesting to note that one of the 20 copies of Livy has a 4th century copy of the book of Hebrews written on the back!)

http://www.christianseparatist.org/ast/hist/textcrit.htm

The oldest manuscripts of Plato’s writings date back to 900 AD, which leaves a time span of 1,200 years between our oldest copy and the original text. For Aristotle the oldest known copies date back to 1100 AD, leaving a gap of approximately 1400 years. Caesar’s Gallic Wars were written in the 1st century BC, but again, the earliest copy is dated to 900 AD, leaving another millennial gap. These are just a few representatives of many ancient authors and texts. The list could go on with notable Greek and Roman historians, statesmen and philosophers.

http://www.rzim.org/publications/slicetran.php?sliceid=165


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Notes for Faculty Colloquium—Anne Collins Smith—October 26, 1998

As Shakespeare is said to have had little Latin and less Greek, so we may say that the medievals had little Plato and less Aristotle.

Until the twelfth century, the medievals relied on a few influential Platonic dialogues such as the Timaeus, known through the translations and commentaries of ancient authorities, and ancient handbooks of Greek philosophical thought, such as the Didaskalikos of Alcinous and the Timaeus commentary of Calcidius. Notoriously arcane, cryptic, and dualistic, these influences gave rise to a philosophy heavily dependent on the notion that this world is neither real or important and that there is another, higher, better dimension of reality, inculturating Christianity with a world-negational attitude that has not been fully overcome.

While Latin Europe struggled along with incomplete texts of Plato and a dearth of Aristotle, scholars dwelling in Islamic countries were more fortunate. Lands conquered by Arabs early in the Islamic period held many Greek texts which were translated into Arabic, including almost all of Aristotle as we known him today.

In the twelfth century, translation centers sprang up in Sicily and Spain and intensive translation activity began. Works of Aristotle and Plato hitherto unknown in the Latin West were translated from Arabic into Latin, along with pseudo-Aristotelian works such as the Liber de Causis. The works of Arabic philosophers and commentators like al-Kindi, al-Farabi, Avicenna, and Averroes were also translated.

Even more texts became available in the 13th century, including early Platonic dialogues like the Phaedo and the Meno, more texts of Aristotle and commentaries on Aristotle.

This had an enormous impact on Western philosophy. Arabic thought provided European thought with new materials, and brought within its purview a whole new world of metaphysics. (W. M. Watt, The Influence of Islam on Medieval Europe. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1972, p. 70)

The infusion of Aristotle was particularly influential. Although Aristotle is difficult to read as a result of the format in which he has been preserved—lecture notes—he is on the whole a philosopher of common sense and practicality, especially when contrasted with the idealism of Plato, and his philosophy is highly world-affirmational. The world we live in is the real world, and it's a good place, too.

To give an idea of the world-affirmational effect of Aristotle's philosophy, it would help to discuss the highest being in the universe. For Plato, this is the Form of the Good, an abstract and incomprehensible entity who is somehow beyond both being and intelligibility. For Aristotle it is the Unmoved Mover or Self-Thinking Thought, who functions as the purpose of the universe (for Aristotle the universe is uncreated) but, since it can think only of itself, is unaware of the rest of the universe. Aquinas blends the two to arrive at a Supreme Being who exists in a manner analogous to the being of creatures, and who, as the self-thinking thought, is fully aware of the Divine Essence, including all the ways in which it may be imitated by finite creatures. This awareness is called the Divine Ideas, and these ideas form the blueprint, the indwelling substantial form, for every created being. Thus, instead of being a poor imitation of reality, every creature in this universe contains within itself the glory of God.

As positive as the effect of Aristotelian philosophy may have been, it was not a painless transition. In the case of Aristotle, Christian scholars were now faced with a powerful metaphysical, psychological, and ethical system that treated of ultimates concerning man and the universe and the 'divine' without any possible concern for the demands of Judeo-Christian orthodoxy. (W&W) Aristotle's philosophy was eventually baptized by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, who blended it with Platonism to form a unified philosophical system consistent with Christianity.

We could stop here, and we'd have pretty much given the mainstream opinion of the Arab influence on medieval philosophy. By preserving the works of Plato and Aristotle, they filled out the incomplete corpus possessed by the Latin West and brought about an enormous shift in philosophical speculation; indeed some scholars trace the seeds of the Renaissance to this deposit of classical wisdom.

This view is obvious, and easy—and wrong.

To look at the Arabs in that light is to treat them as a kind of handy time capsule, storing material from the ancient European world and transmitting it at an appropriate time to the medieval European world. To treat the influence of the Arab world on medieval Europe in this way is to overlook the contributions made by the Arabs themselves.

S. M. Ghazanfar, chair of the department of Economics at the University of Idaho-Moscow, phrases it thus:

the mainstream paradigm, in general, describes the influence of Islamic scholarship chiefly in terms of its preservation and transmission of portions of ancient Greek philosophy that had been lost to medieval Europe. As some have suggested, the paradigm is too rigid—almost unshakable, despite all the new evidence and literature. George Sarton once criticized those who will glibly say ‘the Arabs simply translated Greek writings, they were industrious imitators...’ This is not absolutely untrue, but it is such a small part of the truth that when it is allowed to stand alone, it is worse than a lie.

And then there is another historian of science, Colin Ronan,

Too often science in Arabia has been seen nothing more than a holding operation. The area has been viewed as a giant storehouse for previously discovered scientific results, keeping them until they could be passed on for use in the West. But this is, of course, a travesty of the truth.

(Note the word science is used in its historic meaning—knowledge, comprehensively defined, including philosophy, etc.)

Medieval Europe did not simply absorb its forgotten Aristotelian heritage from Arabs who functioned purely instrumentally. Islamic scholars also brought their own philosophy to the table, and dialogues between the Islamic and Christian worlds were fruitful on both sides.

Islamic philosophers of the medieval period wrestled with many of the same issues as their Christian and Jewish counterparts. The resolution of tension between faith and reason was immensely important to all philosophers of this period. Greek philosophy was developed independently of the monotheistic religions of the Book, and trying to combine Greek philosophy with Judaism, Christianity, or Islam inevitably led to difficulties. The ways in which Islamic philosophers settled these issues, however, were different from the approaches taken by Christian philosophers, and the dialogues between Islamic and Christian philosophers brought these new perspectives to the Latin West. I'm not saying that the European philosophers wound up agreeing with the Arab philosophers, but rather that the European position was often shaped by their need to refute certain Arab positions.

For example, Siger of Brabant, a dedicated Averroist, was known for his claim, following his Islamic predecessor, that truths of faith and truths of reason can be incompatible and yet both true. This dual-truth theory had been controversial within Islam and was of course also controversial within Christianity; in order to combat it, Aquinas made explicit what is now official Catholic doctrine of the two sources of knowledge, the book of scripture and the book of nature: Scripture rightly interpreted will never contradict reason rightly applied.

Another issue that concerned Islamic scholars of this time was the precise nature and definition of the soul. In the 11th century, Avicenna, strongly influenced by Neoplatonism, argued for a division between the active and passive elements of the human mind. The active elements of the mind were actually the effects of an independent being known as the agent intellect, created by the transcendent Intelligence that governs the world we live in, whose job is to supply forms to matter and to illuminate the passive elements of the human mind, enabling our minds to function. The passive elements, also known as the possible intellects, exist in each person and are unique to each person. Averroes, in the 12th century, apparently argued, following a difficult passage in Aristotle's De Anima, that not only the agent intellect but even the possible intellect were separate entities, thus denying a unique personal and spiritual element to the human soul and thereby denying personal immortality. This was not only a controversial point within Islam and Christianity, but it gave rise to Aquinas' famous treatise De Unitate Intellectus Contra Averroistas in which he was forced to develop and elucidate a view of human cognition which allowed for a recognition of an active and passive element, but which was also consistent with personal immortality.

My specific area of research also illustrates this point. I have been working on a text called the Liber de Causis, a 9th century Arabic synopsis of a neoPlatonic work, Proclus' Elements of Theology. It was Thomas Aquinas, in fact, who first recognized this work as a synopsis of the Elements of Theology, which had only recently become available in Latin; until then, it was generally thought to be a work of Aristotle.

Thomas believed that the LdC was more or less an exact synopsis of the ET, and in his commentary he treats the two works as if they are pretty much equivalent. It is clear, however, that there are certain differences, and recent scholarship has begun to trace these differences to the influence of Islamic scholarship on the author of the LdC. A conjectured source document called the *Plotiniana Arabica is believed to be the source of many of the subtle alterations between the Elements of Theology and the Liber de Causis; scholars such as Richard Taylor and Cristina d'Ancona Costa have recently been investigating this phenomenon. Moreover, as d'Ancona-Costa observes (and I agree) not only does the Liber de Causis show evidence of Plotinian as well as Proclean metaphysics—we're still talking about Greeks here—but also that it substantially transforms the doctrines of its neoplatonic sources (p. 42), particularly in its adaptation of the neoplatonic One to pure creative being which is esse tantum. This treatment of pure creative being is neither strictly Platonic nor Aristotelian, nor does it simply and obviously arise from a synthesis of Plato and Aristotle; it is a product of the unknown Moslem author of the Liber de Causis, and a powerful influence on its Latin readers.

Thus, avoiding the pernicious view that the importance of Islamic scholarship in the Middle Ages was simply its transmission of ancient Greek texts, we can see that Islamic scholars engaged and challenged Christian and Jewish thinkers in the Latin West, influencing their views on critical metaphysical and theological issues such as the relation between faith and reason, the operation of the human soul, and the nature of God.

Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 15:34:04 -0600
Sender: H-NET List on Islamic Lands of the Medieval Periody <H-MIDEAST-MEDIEVAL@H-NET.MSU.EDU>
From: editor, h-mideast medieval <langkh@uwec.edu>
Subject: arab contributions to 13th century science
To: H-MIDEAST-MEDIEVAL@H-NET.MSU.EDU

I hope, when the subject of Arab (meaning Islamic culture, I assume) contributions to science comes up those to East Asian as well as European science are considered. One of of the most impressive achievements of the era, in my view, was the transmission of Arabic medicine to China thanks to the Mongols as witnessed by the Hui-hui yao-fang, Muslim Medicinal Recipes, a Chinese-language (but with Arabic script entries) adaptation of Ibin Sina's Qanun. The HHYF is, moreover, the tip of the iceberg since there is substantial Near Eastern content in books with a less direct provenance, e.g., in the Yin-shan cheng-yao, Proper and Essential Things for the Emperor's Food and Drink, upon which I have worked these last 20 years and which appears more and more Islamic the farther I delve into it. Both of the Chinese works mentioned are, of course, 14th century, but the transmission which made them possible are mostly 13th, dating primarily to Qubilai-qan's time.

Paul D. Buell
pbuell@seanet.com

http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/20/014.html


 

 

Gwen Parker
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Four Texts on Socrates: Plato's Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito, and Aristophanes' Clouds:
Translator's Note and Beginning of Introduction

A perfect literal translation from the Greek is impossible.
The Greek words have connotations whose resonances are rarely caught with lexicon equivalents, and many Greek idioms would be unintelligible if translated literally. Furthermore, Plato and Aristophanes often use traditional terms in novel ways, and their deliberate play with the meanings of such terms is integral to the meanings of their works. If the translator tries to capture the particular shade of meaning intended on each occasion a given word appears, the reader remains ignorant that the word recurs at all. But if the word is rendered by a consistent English expression, distortions and awkwardness inevitably mar the translation. Our inelegant and incomplete solution has been to use, wherever possible, consistent translations of important words and phrases supplemented by explanatory notes.

http://www.vindicatingthefounders.com/author/socrates.html


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Practical Presentation of a ``Vanilla'' Aligner
Pernilla Danielsson and Daniel Ridings
Språkbanken
Institutionen för svenska språket
Göteborgs universitet
S-412 98 Göteborg SWEDEN
GU-ISS-97-2
ISSN 1401-5919
pedant@svenska.gu.se



In the Republic there is a very special problem that encoders should be aware of. All Greek editions of Plato print numbers in the margin with letters of the alphabet, usually ``a'' to ``e'', inbetween. These numbers are what we use to refer to sections of Plato's work, much the same way as one refers to the Bible by book, chapter and verse. They are standardized and accepted as reference by all who work with Plato.

If we take a closer look at the numbers and try to figure out what they really stand for it will not be immediately obvious. They do not occur at paragraph breaks, so they are not ``paragraphs'', nor do they occur at page breaks with any perceptible regularity. They are simply a remnant of publishing history. The first printed edition of Plato was by a French scholar, Stephanus. The numbering in modern editions of Plato reflects the page breaks in Stephanus' edition. These page breaks could and did occur in the middle of paragraphs, sentences and dialogues. They reflect the structure of the first printed book but not the structure of the text being printed.

Unfortunately few editors of critical editions have ever seen this editio princeps and fewer, if any, translators have. Why is this important? There is no guarantee that the numbers in editions can be placed more accurately than on the level of a line of printed text. The lines in different editions do not correspond to each other. Therefore, the ``scope'' of the numbers are imprecise. In addition to that, they do not reflect the structure of the text itself, since they do not necessarily fall on any particular linguistic boundary. It is well known that SGML has problems with non-hierarchic units. Therefore there will be a need for a consensus among the TELRI participants: Someone will have to decide on exactly where the pages start and end.

http://nl.ijs.si/telri/Vanilla/doc/ljubljana/

 

 

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GLOSSARY:
The Republic was written in Greek, a language rather different from English, making many of Socrates' ideas terribly tricky to translate. A few of the trickier words are included in the text, italicised in square brackets [techne].
Arete (areth): Appropriateness to or for purpose, translated here as 'goodness' or 'excellence'.
Dikaiosuene (dikaiwsunh): The central theme of The Republic, translated here as 'doing right' or 'justice' or 'morality'.
Episteme (episthmh): Science, specialist knowledge.
Glorious Myth: [414] Sometimes translated as 'The One Royal Lie' or 'A Magnificent Myth'.
God or gods (qeos): Plato refers to 'gods' 'the God' and 'god' apparently without distinction. It is likely that, along with most of his fellows, he believed in a single supreme god together with a multiplicity of other spiritual powers which might be described as subordinate gods.
Goeteuo (goeteuo): [413] 'To cast a spell on' or 'bewitch' has sometimes been translated as 'propaganda', I've said 'to spirit away'
Mimesis (mimhsis): Imitation, copying, reproduction. Representation as found in literary, artistic and dramatic works.
Momus: [487] The traditional Greek personification of mockery and ridicule.
Nomos (nomos): Law, convention, custom, 'that which is expected'.
Paradeigma (paradeigma): Not quite the English 'paradigm'. An example or pattern, especially an outstandingly clear or typical example. In Plato's terms, the 'ideal form'.
Philosopher (jilosojia): Literally, 'friend of wisdom'.
Plato's Divine Sign: [496] "A kind of inner voice which sometimes forbade me to do things" (Apology)
Polis (polis): One of the constituent small, self-governing cities, islands or regions of ancient Greece. Translated here as city, State, society or community.
Psuche (yuch): Originally meaning 'breath of life', it is less neccessarily religious than the English 'soul' as it covers the life principle, the personality, character and the seat of understanding. Translated here as 'mind' 'personality' and 'soul'.
Sophists (sojisths): The professional teachers of public speaking, persuasion and what they, if not Plato, called 'wisdom'.
Techne (tecnh): Technical ability, craft, skill, job, profession.

http://www.btinternet.com/~glynhughes/squashed/plato.htm


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The original Greek of Timaeus, not in it's entirety, but just the passages that concern Atlantis:

quote:


Ἀτλαντὶς κατὰ Ἀθηνῶν
ΚΡ. Ἐγὼ φράσω͵ παλαιὸν ἀκηκοὼς λόγον οὐ νέου ἀνδρός. [21b] ἦν μὲν γὰρ δὴ τότε Κριτίας͵ ὡς ἔφη͵ σχεδὸν ἐγγὺς ἤδη τῶν ἐνενήκοντα ἐτῶν͵ ἐγὼ δέ πῃ μάλιστα δεκέτης· ἡ δὲ Κουρεῶτις ἡμῖν οὖσα ἐτύγχανεν Ἀπατουρίων. τὸ δὴ τῆς ἑορτῆς σύνηθες ἑκάστοτε καὶ τότε συνέβη τοῖς παισίν· ἆθλα γὰρ ἡμῖν οἱ πατέρες ἔθεσαν ῥαψῳδίας. πολλῶν μὲν οὖν δὴ καὶ πολλὰ ἐλέχθη ποιητῶν ποιήματα͵ ἅτε δὲ νέα κατ΄ ἐκεῖνον τὸν χρόνον ὄντα τὰ Σόλωνος πολλοὶ τῶν παίδων ᾔσαμεν. εἶπεν οὖν τις τῶν φρατέρων͵ εἴτε δὴ δοκοῦν αὐτῷ τότε εἴτε καὶ χάριν τινὰ τῷ Κριτίᾳ φέρων͵ [21c] δοκεῖν οἱ τά τε ἄλλα σοφώτατον γεγονέναι Σόλωνα καὶ κατὰ τὴν ποίησιν αὖ τῶν ποιητῶν πάντων ἐλευθεριώτατον. ὁ δὴ γέρων - σφόδρα γὰρ οὖν μέμνημαι - μάλα τε ἥσθη καὶ διαμειδιάσας εἶπεν· Εἴ γε͵ ὦ Ἀμύνανδρε͵ μὴ παρέργῳ τῇ ποιήσει κατεχρήσατο͵ ἀλλ΄ ἐσπουδάκει καθάπερ ἄλλοι͵ τόν τε λόγον ὃν ἀπ΄ Αἰγύπτου δεῦρο ἠνέγκατο ἀπετέλεσεν͵ καὶ μὴ διὰ τὰς στάσεις ὑπὸ κακῶν τε ἄλλων ὅσα ηὗρεν ἐνθάδε ἥκων ἠναγκάσθη καταμελῆσαι͵ [21d] κατά γε ἐμὴν δόξαν οὔτε Ἡσίοδος οὔτε Ὅμηρος οὔτε ἄλλος οὐδεὶς ποιητὴς εὐδοκιμώτερος ἐγένετο ἄν ποτε αὐτοῦ. Τίς δ΄ ἦν ὁ λόγος͵ ἦ δ΄ ὅς͵ ὦ Κριτία; ῏Η περὶ μεγίστης͵ ἔφη͵ καὶ ὀνομαστοτάτης πασῶν δικαιότατ΄ ἂν πράξεως οὔσης͵ ἣν ἥδε ἡ πόλις ἔπραξε μέν͵ διὰ δὲ χρόνον καὶ φθορὰν τῶν ἐργασαμένων οὐ διήρκεσε δεῦρο ὁ λόγος. Λέγε ἐξ ἀρχῆς͵ ἦ δ΄ ὅς͵ τί τε καὶ πῶς καὶ παρὰ τίνων ὡς ἀληθῆ διακηκοὼς ἔλεγεν ὁ Σόλων. [21e] Ἔστιν τις κατ΄ Αἴγυπτον͵ ἦ δ΄ ὅς͵ ἐν τῷ Δέλτα͵ περὶ ὃν κατὰ κορυφὴν σχίζεται τὸ τοῦ Νείλου ῥεῦμα Σαϊτικὸς ἐπικαλούμενος νομός͵ τούτου δὲ τοῦ νομοῦ μεγίστη πόλις Σάις - ὅθεν δὴ καὶ Ἄμασις ἦν ὁ βασιλεύς - οἷς τῆς πόλεως θεὸς ἀρχηγός τίς ἐστιν͵ Αἰγυπτιστὶ μὲν τοὔνομα Νηίθ͵ Ἑλληνιστὶ δέ͵ ὡς ὁ ἐκείνων λόγος͵ Ἀθηνᾶ· μάλα δὲ φιλαθήναιοι καί τινα τρόπον οἰκεῖοι τῶνδ΄ εἶναί φασιν. οἷ δὴ Σόλων ἔφη πορευθεὶς σφόδρα τε γενέσθαι παρ΄ αὐτοῖς ἔντιμος͵ [22a] καὶ δὴ καὶ τὰ παλαιὰ ἀνερωτῶν ποτε τοὺς μάλιστα περὶ ταῦτα τῶν ἱερέων ἐμπείρους͵ σχεδὸν οὔτε αὑτὸν οὔτε ἄλλον Ἕλληνα οὐδένα οὐδὲν ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν εἰδότα περὶ τῶν τοιούτων ἀνευρεῖν. καί ποτε προαγαγεῖν βουληθεὶς αὐτοὺς περὶ τῶν ἀρχαίων εἰς λόγους͵ τῶν τῇδε τὰ ἀρχαιότατα λέγειν ἐπιχειρεῖν͵ περὶ Φορωνέως τε τοῦ πρώτου λεχθέντος καὶ Νιόβης͵ καὶ μετὰ τὸν κατακλυσμὸν αὖ περὶ Δευκαλίωνος καὶ Πύρρας ὡς διεγένοντο μυθολογεῖν͵ [22b] καὶ τοὺς ἐξ αὐτῶν γενεαλογεῖν͵ καὶ τὰ τῶν ἐτῶν ὅσα ἦν οἷς ἔλεγεν πειρᾶσθαι διαμνημονεύων τοὺς χρόνους ἀριθμεῖν· καί τινα εἰπεῖν τῶν ἱερέων εὖ μάλα παλαιόν· Ὦ Σόλων͵ Σόλων͵ Ἕλληνες ἀεὶ παῖδές ἐστε͵ γέρων δὲ Ἕλλην οὐκ ἔστιν. Ἀκούσας οὖν͵ Πῶς τί τοῦτο λέγεις; φάναι. Νέοι ἐστέ͵ εἰπεῖν͵ τὰς ψυχὰς πάντες· οὐδεμίαν γὰρ ἐν αὐταῖς ἔχετε δι΄ ἀρχαίαν ἀκοὴν παλαιὰν δόξαν οὐδὲ μάθημα χρόνῳ πολιὸν οὐδέν. [22c] τὸ δὲ τούτων αἴτιον τόδε. πολλαὶ κατὰ πολλὰ φθοραὶ γεγόνασιν ἀνθρώπων καὶ ἔσονται͵ πυρὶ μὲν καὶ ὕδατι μέγισται͵ μυρίοις δὲ ἄλλοις ἕτεραι βραχύτεραι. τὸ γὰρ οὖν καὶ παρ΄ ὑμῖν λεγόμενον͵ ὥς ποτε Φαέθων Ἡλίου παῖς τὸ τοῦ πατρὸς ἅρμα ζεύξας διὰ τὸ μὴ δυνατὸς εἶναι κατὰ τὴν τοῦ πατρὸς ὁδὸν ἐλαύνειν τά τ΄ ἐπὶ γῆς συνέκαυσεν καὶ αὐτὸς κεραυνωθεὶς διεφθάρη͵ τοῦτο μύθου μὲν σχῆμα ἔχον λέγεται͵ [22d] τὸ δὲ ἀληθές ἐστι τῶν περὶ γῆν κατ΄ οὐρανὸν ἰόντων παράλλαξις καὶ διὰ μακρῶν χρόνων γιγνομένη τῶν ἐπὶ γῆς πυρὶ πολλῷ φθορά. τότε οὖν ὅσοι κατ΄ ὄρη καὶ ἐν ὑψηλοῖς τόποις καὶ ἐν ξηροῖς οἰκοῦσιν μᾶλλον διόλλυνται τῶν ποταμοῖς καὶ θαλάττῃ προσοικούντων· ἡμῖν δὲ ὁ Νεῖλος εἴς τε τἆλλα σωτὴρ καὶ τότε ἐκ ταύτης τῆς ἀπορίας σῴζει λυόμενος. ὅταν δ΄ αὖ θεοὶ τὴν γῆν ὕδασιν καθαίροντες κατακλύζωσιν͵ οἱ μὲν ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσιν διασῴζονται βουκόλοι νομῆς τε͵ [22e] οἱ δ΄ ἐν ταῖς παρ΄ ὑμῖν πόλεσιν εἰς τὴν θάλατταν ὑπὸ τῶν ποταμῶν φέρονται· κατὰ δὲ τήνδε χώραν οὔτε τότε οὔτε ἄλλοτε ἄνωθεν ἐπὶ τὰς ἀρούρας ὕδωρ ἐπιρρεῖ͵ τὸ δ΄ ἐναντίον κάτωθεν πᾶν ἐπανιέναι πέφυκεν. ὅθεν καὶ δι΄ ἃς αἰτίας τἀνθάδε σῳζόμενα λέγεται παλαιότατα·
τὸ δὲ ἀληθές͵ ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς τόποις ὅπου μὴ χειμὼν ἐξαίσιος ἢ καῦμα ἀπείργει͵ πλέον͵ τοτὲ δὲ ἔλαττον ἀεὶ γένος ἐστὶν ἀνθρώπων. [23a] ὅσα δὲ ἢ παρ΄ ὑμῖν ἢ τῇδε ἢ καὶ κατ΄ ἄλλον τόπον ὧν ἀκοῇ ἴσμεν͵ εἴ πού τι καλὸν ἢ μέγα γέγονεν ἢ καί τινα διαφορὰν ἄλλην ἔχον͵ πάντα γεγραμμένα ἐκ παλαιοῦ τῇδ΄ ἐστὶν ἐν τοῖς ἱεροῖς καὶ σεσωσμένα· τὰ δὲ παρ΄ ὑμῖν καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις ἄρτι κατεσκευασμένα ἑκάστοτε τυγχάνει γράμμασι καὶ ἅπασιν ὁπόσων πόλεις δέονται͵ καὶ πάλιν δι΄ εἰωθότων ἐτῶν ὥσπερ νόσημα ἥκει φερόμενον αὐτοῖς ῥεῦμα οὐράνιον καὶ τοὺς ἀγραμμάτους τε καὶ ἀμούσους ἔλιπεν ὑμῶν͵ [23b] ὥστε πάλιν ἐξ ἀρχῆς οἷον νέοι γίγνεσθε͵ οὐδὲν εἰδότες οὔτε τῶν τῇδε οὔτε τῶν παρ΄ ὑμῖν͵ ὅσα ἦν ἐν τοῖς παλαιοῖς χρόνοις. τὰ γοῦν νυνδὴ γενεαλογηθέντα͵ ὦ Σόλων͵ περὶ τῶν παρ΄ ὑμῖν ἃ διῆλθες͵ παίδων βραχύ τι διαφέρει μύθων͵ οἳ πρῶτον μὲν ἕνα γῆς κατακλυσμὸν μέμνησθε πολλῶν ἔμπροσθεν γεγονότων͵ ἔτι δὲ τὸ κάλλιστον καὶ ἄριστον γένος ἐπ΄ ἀνθρώπους ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ παρ΄ ὑμῖν οὐκ ἴστε γεγονός͵ [23c] ἐξ ὧν σύ τε καὶ πᾶσα ἡ πόλις ἔστιν τὰ νῦν ὑμῶν͵ περιλειφθέντος ποτὲ σπέρματος βραχέος͵ ἀλλ΄ ὑμᾶς λέληθεν διὰ τὸ τοὺς περιγενομένους ἐπὶ πολλὰς γενεὰς γράμμασιν τελευτᾶν ἀφώνους. ἦν γὰρ δή ποτε͵ ὦ Σόλων͵ ὑπὲρ τὴν μεγίστην φθορὰν ὕδασιν ἡ νῦν Ἀθηναίων οὖσα πόλις ἀρίστη πρός τε τὸν πόλεμον καὶ κατὰ πάντα εὐνομωτάτη διαφερόντως· ᾗ κάλλιστα ἔργα καὶ πολιτεῖαι γενέσθαι λέγονται κάλλισται πασῶν ὁπόσων ὑπὸ τὸν οὐρανὸν ἡμεῖς ἀκοὴν παρεδεξάμεθα.







[23d] Ἀκούσας οὖν ὁ Σόλων ἔφη θαυμάσαι καὶ πᾶσαν προθυμίαν σχεῖν δεόμενος τῶν ἱερέων πάντα δι΄ ἀκριβείας οἱ τὰ περὶ τῶν πάλαι πολιτῶν ἑξῆς διελθεῖν. τὸν οὖν ἱερέα φάναι· Φθόνος οὐδείς͵ ὦ Σόλων͵ ἀλλὰ σοῦ τε ἕνεκα ἐρῶ καὶ τῆς πόλεως ὑμῶν͵ μάλιστα δὲ τῆς θεοῦ χάριν͵ ἣ τήν τε ὑμετέραν καὶ τήνδε ἔλαχεν καὶ ἔθρεψεν καὶ ἐπαίδευσεν͵ [23e] προτέραν μὲν τὴν παρ΄ ὑμῖν ἔτεσιν χιλίοις͵ ἐκ Γῆς τε καὶ Ἡφαίστου τὸ σπέρμα παραλαβοῦσα ὑμῶν͵ τήνδε δὲ ὑστέραν. τῆς δὲ ἐνθάδε διακοσμήσεως παρ΄ ἡμῖν ἐν τοῖς ἱεροῖς γράμμασιν ὀκτακισχιλίων ἐτῶν ἀριθμὸς γέγραπται. περὶ δὴ τῶν ἐνακισχίλια γεγονότων ἔτη πολιτῶν σοι δηλώσω διὰ βραχέων νόμους͵ καὶ τῶν ἔργων αὐτοῖς ὃ κάλλιστον ἐπράχθη· [24a] τὸ δ΄ ἀκριβὲς περὶ πάντων ἐφεξῆς εἰς αὖθις κατὰ σχολὴν αὐτὰ τὰ γράμματα λαβόντες διέξιμεν. τοὺς μὲν οὖν νόμους σκόπει πρὸς τοὺς τῇδε· πολλὰ γὰρ παραδείγματα τῶν τότε παρ΄ ὑμῖν ὄντων ἐνθάδε νῦν ἀνευρήσεις͵ πρῶτον μὲν τὸ τῶν ἱερέων γένος ἀπὸ τῶν ἄλλων χωρὶς ἀφωρισμένον͵ μετὰ δὲ τοῦτο τὸ τῶν δημιουργῶν͵ ὅτι καθ΄ αὑτὸ ἕκαστον ἄλλῳ δὲ οὐκ ἐπιμειγνύμενον δημιουργεῖ͵ τό τε τῶν νομέων καὶ τὸ τῶν θηρευτῶν τό τε τῶν γεωργῶν. [24b] καὶ δὴ καὶ τὸ μάχιμον γένος ᾔσθησαί που τῇδε ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν γενῶν κεχωρισμένον͵ οἷς οὐδὲν ἄλλο πλὴν τὰ περὶ τὸν πόλεμον ὑπὸ τοῦ νόμου προσετάχθη μέλειν· ἔτι δὲ ἡ τῆς ὁπλίσεως αὐτῶν σχέσις ἀσπίδων καὶ δοράτων͵ οἷς ἡμεῖς πρῶτοι τῶν περὶ τὴν Ἀσίαν ὡπλίσμεθα͵ τῆς θεοῦ καθάπερ ἐν ἐκείνοις τοῖς τόποις παρ΄ ὑμῖν πρώτοις ἐνδειξαμένης. τὸ δ΄ αὖ περὶ τῆς φρονήσεως͵ ὁρᾷς που τὸν νόμον τῇδε ὅσην ἐπιμέλειαν ἐποιήσατο εὐθὺς κατ΄ ἀρχὰς περί τε τὸν κόσμον͵ [24c] ἅπαντα μέχρι μαντικῆς καὶ ἰατρικῆς πρὸς ὑγίειαν ἐκ τούτων θείων ὄντων εἰς τὰ ἀνθρώπινα ἀνευρών͵ ὅσα τε ἄλλα τούτοις ἕπεται μαθήματα πάντα κτησάμενος. ταύτην οὖν δὴ τότε σύμπασαν τὴν διακόσμησιν καὶ σύνταξιν ἡ θεὸς προτέρους ὑμᾶς διακοσμήσασα κατῴκισεν͵ ἐκλεξαμένη τὸν τόπον ἐν ᾧ γεγένησθε͵ τὴν εὐκρασίαν τῶν ὡρῶν ἐν αὐτῷ κατιδοῦσα͵ ὅτι φρονιμωτάτους ἄνδρας οἴσοι· [24d] ἅτε οὖν φιλοπόλεμός τε καὶ φιλόσοφος ἡ θεὸς οὖσα τὸν προσφερεστάτους αὐτῇ μέλλοντα οἴσειν τόπον ἄνδρας͵ τοῦτον ἐκλεξαμένη πρῶτον κατῴκισεν. ᾠκεῖτε δὴ οὖν νόμοις τε τοιούτοις χρώμενοι καὶ ἔτι μᾶλλον εὐνομούμενοι πάσῃ τε παρὰ πάντας ἀνθρώπους ὑπερβεβληκότες ἀρετῇ͵ καθάπερ εἰκὸς γεννήματα καὶ παιδεύματα θεῶν ὄντας.

πολλὰ μὲν οὖν ὑμῶν καὶ μεγάλα ἔργα τῆς πόλεως τῇδε γεγραμμένα θαυμάζεται͵ [24e] πάντων μὴν ἓν ὑπερέχει μεγέθει καὶ ἀρετῇ· λέγει γὰρ τὰ γεγραμμένα ὅσην ἡ πόλις ὑμῶν ἔπαυσέν ποτε δύναμιν ὕβρει πορευομένην ἅμα ἐπὶ πᾶσαν Εὐρώπην καὶ Ἀσίαν͵ ἔξωθεν ὁρμηθεῖσαν ἐκ τοῦ Ἀτλαντικοῦ πελάγους. τότε γὰρ πορεύσιμον ἦν τὸ ἐκεῖ πέλαγος· νῆσον γὰρ πρὸ τοῦ στόματος εἶχεν ὃ καλεῖτε͵ ὥς φατε͵ ὑμεῖς Ἡρακλέους στήλας͵ ἡ δὲ νῆσος ἅμα Λιβύης ἦν καὶ Ἀσίας μείζων͵ ἐξ ἧς ἐπιβατὸν ἐπὶ τὰς ἄλλας νήσους τοῖς τότε ἐγίγνετο πορευομένοις͵ [25a] ἐκ δὲ τῶν νήσων ἐπὶ τὴν καταντικρὺ πᾶσαν ἤπειρον τὴν περὶ τὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκεῖνον πόντον. τάδε μὲν γάρ͵ ὅσα ἐντὸς τοῦ στόματος οὗ λέγομεν͵ φαίνεται λιμὴν στενόν τινα ἔχων εἴσπλουν· ἐκεῖνο δὲ πέλαγος ὄντως ἥ τε περιέχουσα αὐτὸ γῆ παντελῶς ἀληθῶς ὀρθότατ΄ ἂν λέγοιτο ἤπειρος. ἐν δὲ δὴ τῇ Ἀτλαντίδι νήσῳ ταύτῃ μεγάλη συνέστη καὶ θαυμαστὴ δύναμις βασιλέων͵ κρατοῦσα μὲν ἁπάσης τῆς νήσου͵ πολλῶν δὲ ἄλλων νήσων καὶ μερῶν τῆς ἠπείρου· πρὸς δὲ τούτοις ἔτι τῶν ἐντὸς τῇδε Λιβύης μὲν ἦρχον μέχρι πρὸς Αἴγυπτον͵ τῆς δὲ Εὐρώπης μέχρι Τυρρηνίας. αὕτη δὴ πᾶσα συναθροισθεῖσα εἰς ἓν ἡ δύναμις τόν τε παρ΄ ὑμῖν καὶ τὸν παρ΄ ἡμῖν καὶ τὸν ἐντὸς τοῦ στόματος πάντα τόπον μιᾷ ποτὲ ἐπεχείρησεν ὁρμῇ δουλοῦσθαι. τότε οὖν ὑμῶν͵ ὦ Σόλων͵ τῆς πόλεως ἡ δύναμις εἰς ἅπαντας ἀνθρώπους διαφανὴς ἀρετῇ τε καὶ ῥώμῃ ἐγένετο· πάντων γὰρ προστᾶσα εὐψυχίᾳ καὶ τέχναις ὅσαι κατὰ πόλεμον͵ [25c] τὰ μὲν τῶν Ἑλλήνων ἡγουμένη͵ τὰ δ΄ αὐτὴ μονωθεῖσα ἐξ ἀνάγκης τῶν ἄλλων ἀποστάντων͵ ἐπὶ τοὺς ἐσχάτους ἀφικομένη κινδύνους͵ κρατήσασα μὲν τῶν ἐπιόντων τρόπαιον ἔστησεν͵ τοὺς δὲ μήπω δεδουλωμένους διεκώλυσεν δουλωθῆναι͵ τοὺς δ΄ ἄλλους͵ ὅσοι κατοικοῦμεν ἐντὸς ὅρων Ἡρακλείων͵ ἀφθόνως ἅπαντας ἠλευθέρωσεν. ὑστέρῳ δὲ χρόνῳ σεισμῶν ἐξαισίων καὶ κατακλυσμῶν γενομένων͵ μιᾶς ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτὸς χαλεπῆς ἐπελθούσης͵ [25d] τό τε παρ΄ ὑμῖν μάχιμον πᾶν ἁθρόον ἔδυ κατὰ γῆς͵ ἥ τε Ἀτλαντὶς νῆσος ὡσαύτως κατὰ τῆς θαλάττης δῦσα ἠφανίσθη· διὸ καὶ νῦν ἄπορον καὶ ἀδιερεύνητον γέγονεν τοὐκεῖ πέλαγος͵ πηλοῦ κάρτα βραχέος ἐμποδὼν ὄντος͵ ὃν ἡ νῆσος ἱζομένη παρέσχετο.

[25e] Τὰ μὲν δὴ ῥηθέντα͵ ὦ Σώκρατες͵ ὑπὸ τοῦ παλαιοῦ Κριτίου κατ΄ ἀκοὴν τὴν Σόλωνος͵ ὡς συντόμως εἰπεῖν͵ ἀκήκοας· λέγοντος δὲ δὴ χθὲς σοῦ περὶ πολιτείας τε καὶ τῶν ἀνδρῶν οὓς ἔλεγες͵ ἐθαύμαζον ἀναμιμνῃσκόμενος αὐτὰ ἃ νῦν λέγω͵ κατανοῶν ὡς δαιμονίως ἔκ τινος τύχης οὐκ ἄπο σκοποῦ συνηνέχθης τὰ πολλὰ οἷς Σόλων εἶπεν. [26a] οὐ μὴν ἐβουλήθην παραχρῆμα εἰπεῖν· διὰ χρόνου γὰρ οὐχ ἱκανῶς ἐμεμνήμην. ἐνενόησα οὖν ὅτι χρεὼν εἴη με πρὸς ἐμαυτὸν πρῶτον ἱκανῶς πάντα ἀναλαβόντα λέγειν οὕτως. ὅθεν ταχὺ συνωμολόγησά σοι τὰ ἐπιταχθέντα χθές͵ ἡγούμενος͵ ὅπερ ἐν ἅπασι τοῖς τοιοῖσδε μέγιστον ἔργον͵ λόγον τινὰ πρέποντα τοῖς βουλήμασιν ὑποθέσθαι͵ τούτου μετρίως ἡμᾶς εὐπορήσειν.

[26b] οὕτω δή͵ καθάπερ ὅδ΄ εἶπεν͵ χθές τε εὐθὺς ἐνθένδε ἀπιὼν πρὸς τούσδε ἀνέφερον αὐτὰ ἀναμιμνῃσκόμενος͵ ἀπελθών τε σχεδόν τι πάντα ἐπισκοπῶν τῆς νυκτὸς ἀνέλαβον. ὡς δή τοι͵ τὸ λεγόμενον͵ τὰ παίδων μαθήματα θαυμαστὸν ἔχει τι μνημεῖον. ἐγὼ γὰρ ἃ μὲν χθὲς ἤκουσα͵ οὐκ ἂν οἶδ΄ εἰ δυναίμην ἅπαντα ἐν μνήμῃ πάλιν λαβεῖν· ταῦτα δὲ ἃ πάμπολυν χρόνον διακήκοα͵ παντάπασι θαυμάσαιμ΄ ἂν εἴ τί με αὐτῶν διαπέφευγεν. [26c] ἦν μὲν οὖν μετὰ πολλῆς ἡδονῆς καὶ παιδιᾶς τότε ἀκουόμενα͵ καὶ τοῦ πρεσβύτου προθύμως με διδάσκοντος͵ ἅτ΄ ἐμοῦ πολλάκις ἐπανερωτῶντος͵ ὥστε οἷον ἐγκαύματα ἀνεκπλύτου γραφῆς ἔμμονά μοι γέγονεν· καὶ δὴ καὶ τοῖσδε εὐθὺς ἔλεγον ἕωθεν αὐτὰ ταῦτα͵ ἵνα εὐποροῖεν λόγων μετ΄ ἐμοῦ. νῦν οὖν͵ οὗπερ ἕνεκα πάντα ταῦτα εἴρηται͵ λέγειν εἰμὶ ἕτοιμος͵ ὦ Σώκρατες͵ μὴ μόνον ἐν κεφαλαίοις ἀλλ΄ ὥσπερ ἤκουσα καθ΄ ἕκαστον· τοὺς δὲ πολίτας καὶ τὴν πόλιν ἣν χθὲς ἡμῖν ὡς ἐν μύθῳ διῄεισθα σύ͵ [26d] νῦν μετενεγκόντες ἐπὶ τἀληθὲς δεῦρο θήσομεν ὡς ἐκείνην τήνδε οὖσαν͵ καὶ τοὺς πολίτας οὓς διενοοῦ φήσομεν ἐκείνους τοὺς ἀληθινοὺς εἶναι προγόνους ἡμῶν͵ οὓς ἔλεγεν ὁ ἱερεύς. πάντως ἁρμόσουσι καὶ οὐκ ἀπᾳσόμεθα λέγοντες αὐτοὺς εἶναι τοὺς ἐν τῷ τότε ὄντας χρόνῳ. κοινῇ δὲ διαλαμβάνοντες ἅπαντες πειρασόμεθα τὸ πρέπον εἰς δύναμιν οἷς ἐπέταξας ἀποδοῦναι. σκοπεῖν οὖν δὴ χρή͵ ὦ Σώκρατες͵ εἰ κατὰ νοῦν ὁ λόγος ἡμῖν οὗτος͵ ἤ τινα ἔτ΄ ἄλλον ἀντ΄ αὐτοῦ ζητητέον.


[26e] ΣΩ. Καὶ τίν΄ ἄν͵ ὦ Κριτία͵ μᾶλλον ἀντὶ τούτου μεταλάβοιμεν͵ ὃς τῇ τε παρούσῃ τῆς θεοῦ θυσίᾳ διὰ τὴν οἰκειότητ΄ ἂν πρέποι μάλιστα͵ τό τε μὴ πλασθέντα μῦθον ἀλλ΄ ἀληθινὸν λόγον εἶναι πάμμεγά που. πῶς γὰρ καὶ πόθεν ἄλλους ἀνευρήσομεν ἀφέμενοι τούτων; οὐκ ἔστιν͵ ἀλλ΄ ἀγαθῇ τύχῃ χρὴ λέγειν μὲν ὑμᾶς͵ ἐμὲ δὲ ἀντὶ τῶν χθὲς λόγων νῦν ἡσυχίαν ἄγοντα ἀντακούειν.

[27a] ΚΡ. Σκόπει δὴ τὴν τῶν ξενίων σοι διάθεσιν͵ ὦ Σώκρατες͵ ᾗ διέθεμεν. ἔδοξεν γὰρ ἡμῖν Τίμαιον μέν͵ ἅτε ὄντα ἀστρονομικώτατον ἡμῶν καὶ περὶ φύσεως τοῦ παντὸς εἰδέναι μάλιστα ἔργον πεποιημένον͵ πρῶτον λέγειν ἀρχόμενον ἀπὸ τῆς τοῦ κόσμου γενέσεως͵ τελευτᾶν δὲ εἰς ἀνθρώπων φύσιν· ἐμὲ δὲ μετὰ τοῦτον͵ ὡς παρὰ μὲν τούτου δεδεγμένον ἀνθρώπους τῷ λόγῳ γεγονότας͵ [27b] παρὰ σοῦ δὲ πεπαιδευμένους διαφερόντως αὐτῶν τινας͵ κατὰ δὲ τὸν Σόλωνος λόγον τε καὶ νόμον εἰσαγαγόντα αὐτοὺς ὡς εἰς δικαστὰς ἡμᾶς ποιῆσαι πολίτας τῆς πόλεως τῆσδε ὡς ὄντας τοὺς τότε Ἀθηναίους͵ οὓς ἐμήνυσεν ἀφανεῖς ὄντας ἡ τῶν ἱερῶν γραμμάτων φήμη͵ τὰ λοιπὰ δὲ ὡς περὶ πολιτῶν καὶ Ἀθηναίων ὄντων ἤδη ποιεῖσθαι τοὺς λόγους.


ΣΩ. Τελέως τε καὶ λαμπρῶς ἔοικα ἀνταπολήψεσθαι τὴν τῶν λόγων ἑστίασιν. σὸν οὖν ἔργον λέγειν ἄν͵ ὦ Τίμαιε͵ τὸ μετὰ τοῦτο͵ ὡς ἔοικεν͵ εἴη καλέσαντα κατὰ νόμον θεούς.


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Once again, the commonly accepted English version:

CRIT. I will tell an old-world story which I heard from an aged man; for Critias, at the time of telling it, was as he said, nearly ninety years of age, and I was about ten. Now the day was that day of the Apaturia which is called the Registration of Youth, at which, according to custom, our parents gave prizes for recitations, and the poems of several poets were recited by us boys, and many of us sang the poems of Solon, which at that time had not gone out of fashion. One of our tribe, either because he thought so or to please Critias, said that in his judgment Solon was not only the wisest of men, but also the noblest of poets. The old man, as I very well remember, brightened up at hearing this and said, smiling: Yes, Amynander, if Solon had only, like other poets, made poetry the business of his life, and had completed the tale which he brought with him from Egypt, and had not been compelled, by reason of the factions and troubles which he found stirring in his own country when he came home, to attend to other matters, in my opinion he would have been as famous as Homer or Hesiod, or any poet. And what was the tale about, Critias? said Amynander. About the greatest action which the Athenians ever did, and which ought to have been the most famous, but, through the lapse of time and the destruction of the actors, it has not come down to us. Tell us, said the other, the whole story, and how and from whom Solon heard this veritable tradition. He replied:-In the Egyptian Delta, at the head of which the river Nile divides, there is a certain district which is called the district of Sais, and the great city of the district is also called Sais, and is the city from which King Amasis came. The citizens have a deity for their foundress; she is called in the Egyptian tongue Neith, and is asserted by them to be the same whom the Hellenes call Athene; they are great lovers of the Athenians, and say that they are in some way related to them. To this city came Solon, and was received there with great honour; he asked the priests who were most skilful in such matters, about antiquity, and made the discovery that neither he nor any other Hellene knew anything worth mentioning about the times of old. On one occasion, wishing to draw them on to speak of antiquity, he began to tell about the most ancient things in our part of the world-about Phoroneus, who is called "the first man," and about Niobe; and after the Deluge, of the survival of Deucalion and Pyrrha; and he traced the genealogy of their descendants, and reckoning up the dates, tried to compute how many years ago the events of which he was speaking happened. Thereupon one of the priests, who was of a very great age, said: O Solon, Solon, you Hellenes are never anything but children, and there is not an old man among you. Solon in return asked him what he meant. I mean to say, he replied, that in mind you are all young; there is no old opinion handed down among you by ancient tradition, nor any science which is hoary with age. And I will tell you why. There have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; the greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fire and water, and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes. There is a story, which even you have preserved, that once upon a time Paethon, the son of Helios, having yoked the steeds in his father's chariot, because he was not able to drive them in the path of his father, burnt up all that was upon the earth, and was himself destroyed by a thunderbolt. Now this has the form of a myth, but really signifies a declination of the bodies moving in the heavens around the earth, and a great conflagration of things upon the earth, which recurs after long intervals; at such times those who live upon the mountains and in dry and lofty places are more liable to destruction than those who dwell by rivers or on the seashore. And from this calamity the Nile, who is our never-failing saviour, delivers and preserves us. When, on the other hand, the gods purge the earth with a deluge of water, the survivors in your country are herdsmen and shepherds who dwell on the mountains, but those who, like you, live in cities are carried by the rivers into the sea. Whereas in this land, neither then nor at any other time, does the water come down from above on the fields, having always a tendency to come up from below; for which reason the traditions preserved here are the most ancient.

The fact is, that wherever the extremity of winter frost or of summer does not prevent, mankind exist, sometimes in greater, sometimes in lesser numbers. And whatever happened either in your country or in ours, or in any other region of which we are informed-if there were any actions noble or great or in any other way remarkable, they have all been written down by us of old, and are preserved in our temples. Whereas just when you and other nations are beginning to be provided with letters and the other requisites of civilized life, after the usual interval, the stream from heaven, like a pestilence, comes pouring down, and leaves only those of you who are destitute of letters and education; and so you have to begin all over again like children, and know nothing of what happened in ancient times, either among us or among yourselves. As for those genealogies of yours which you just now recounted to us, Solon, they are no better than the tales of children. In the first place you remember a single deluge only, but there were many previous ones; in the next place, you do not know that there formerly dwelt in your land the fairest and noblest race of men which ever lived, and that you and your whole city are descended from a small seed or remnant of them which survived. And this was unknown to you, because, for many generations, the survivors of that destruction died, leaving no written word. For there was a time, Solon, before the great deluge of all, when the city which now is Athens was first in war and in every way the best governed of all cities, is said to have performed the noblest deeds and to have had the fairest constitution of any of which tradition tells, under the face of heaven.

Solon marvelled at his words, and earnestly requested the priests to inform him exactly and in order about these former citizens. You are welcome to hear about them, Solon, said the priest, both for your own sake and for that of your city, and above all, for the sake of the goddess who is the common patron and parent and educator of both our cities. She founded your city a thousand years before ours, receiving from the Earth and Hephaestus the seed of your race, and afterwards she founded ours, of which the constitution is recorded in our sacred registers to be eight thousand years old. As touching your citizens of nine thousand years ago, I will briefly inform you of their laws and of their most famous action; the exact particulars of the whole we will hereafter go through at our leisure in the sacred registers themselves. If you compare these very laws with ours you will find that many of ours are the counterpart of yours as they were in the olden time. In the first place, there is the caste of priests, which is separated from all the others; next, there are the artificers, who ply their several crafts by themselves and do not intermix; and also there is the class of shepherds and of hunters, as well as that of husbandmen; and you will observe, too, that the warriors in Egypt are distinct from all the other classes, and are commanded by the law to devote themselves solely to military pursuits; moreover, the weapons which they carry are shields and spears, a style of equipment which the goddess taught of Asiatics first to us, as in your part of the world first to you. Then as to wisdom, do you observe how our law from the very first made a study of the whole order of things, extending even to prophecy and medicine which gives health, out of these divine elements deriving what was needful for human life, and adding every sort of knowledge which was akin to them. All this order and arrangement the goddess first imparted to you when establishing your city; and she chose the spot of earth in which you were born, because she saw that the happy temperament of the seasons in that land would produce the wisest of men. Wherefore the goddess, who was a lover both of war and of wisdom, selected and first of all settled that spot which was the most likely to produce men likest herself. And there you dwelt, having such laws as these and still better ones, and excelled all mankind in all virtue, as became the children and disciples of the gods.

Many great and wonderful deeds are recorded of your state in our histories. But one of them exceeds all the rest in greatness and valour. For these histories tell of a mighty power which unprovoked made an expedition against the whole of Europe and Asia, and to which your city put an end. This power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean, for in those days the Atlantic was navigable; and there was an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles; the island was larger than Libya and Asia put together, and was the way to other islands, and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent which surrounded the true ocean; for this sea which is within the Straits of Heracles is only a harbour, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a real sea, and the surrounding land may be most truly called a boundless continent. Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent, and, furthermore, the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia. This vast power, gathered into one, endeavoured to subdue at a blow our country and yours and the whole of the region within the straits; and then, Solon, your country shone forth, in the excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind. She was pre-eminent in courage and military skill, and was the leader of the Hellenes. And when the rest fell off from her, being compelled to stand alone, after having undergone the very extremity of danger, she defeated and triumphed over the invaders, and preserved from slavery those who were not yet subjugated, and generously liberated all the rest of us who dwell within the pillars. But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea. For which reason the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island.

I have told you briefly, Socrates, what the aged Critias heard from Solon and related to us. And when you were speaking yesterday about your city and citizens, the tale which I have just been repeating to you came into my mind, and I remarked with astonishment how, by some mysterious coincidence, you agreed in almost every particular with the narrative of Solon; but I did not like to speak at the moment. For a long time had elapsed, and I had forgotten too much; I thought that I must first of all run over the narrative in my own mind, and then I would speak. And so I readily assented to your request yesterday, considering that in all such cases the chief difficulty is to find a tale suitable to our purpose, and that with such a tale we should be fairly well provided.

And therefore, as Hermocrates has told you, on my way home yesterday I at once communicated the tale to my companions as I remembered it; and after I left them, during the night by thinking I recovered nearly the whole it. Truly, as is often said, the lessons of our childhood make wonderful impression on our memories; for I am not sure that I could remember all the discourse of yesterday, but I should be much surprised if I forgot any of these things which I have heard very long ago. I listened at the time with childlike interest to the old man's narrative; he was very ready to teach me, and I asked him again and again to repeat his words, so that like an indelible picture they were branded into my mind. As soon as the day broke, I rehearsed them as he spoke them to my companions, that they, as well as myself, might have something to say. And now, Socrates, to make an end my preface, I am ready to tell you the whole tale. I will give you not only the general heads, but the particulars, as they were told to me. The city and citizens, which you yesterday described to us in fiction, we will now transfer to the world of reality. It shall be the ancient city of Athens, and we will suppose that the citizens whom you imagined, were our veritable ancestors, of whom the priest spoke; they will perfectly harmonise, and there will be no inconsistency in saying that the citizens of your republic are these ancient Athenians. Let us divide the subject among us, and all endeavour according to our ability gracefully to execute the task which you have imposed upon us. Consider then, Socrates, if this narrative is suited to the purpose, or whether we should seek for some other instead.

Soc. And what other, Critias, can we find that will be better than this, which is natural and suitable to the festival of the goddess, and has the very great advantage of being a fact and not a fiction? How or where shall we find another if we abandon this? We cannot, and therefore you must tell the tale, and good luck to you; and I in return for my yesterday's discourse will now rest and be a listener.

Crit. Let me proceed to explain to you, Socrates, the order in which we have arranged our entertainment. Our intention is, that Timaeus, who is the most of an astronomer amongst us, and has made the nature of the universe his special study, should speak first, beginning with the generation of the world and going down to the creation of man; next, I am to receive the men whom he has created of whom some will have profited by the excellent education which you have given them; and then, in accordance with the tale of Solon, and equally with his law, we will bring them into court and make them citizens, as if they were those very Athenians whom the sacred Egyptian record has recovered from oblivion, and thenceforward we will speak of them as Athenians and fellow-citizens.

Soc. I see that I shall receive in my turn a perfect and splendid feast of reason. And now, Timaeus, you, I suppose, should speak next, after duly calling upon the Gods.

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continued on part 4