Home > Lost Civilizations > Atlantis > Timaeus and Critias

[ Introduction || The Dialogues || Cast of Characters ]

Timaeus and Critias, two of Plato's dialogues, are the only existing written records which specifically refer to Atlantis. The dialogues are conversations between Socrates, Hermocrates, Timeaus, and Critias. Apparently in response to a prior talk by Socrates about ideal societies, Timeaus and Critias agree to entertain Socrates with a tale that is "not a fiction but a true story."

The story is about the conflict between the ancient Athenians and the Atlantians 9000 years before Plato's time. Knowledge of the distant past apparently forgotten to the Athenians of Plato's day, the story of Atlantis was conveyed to Solon by Egyptian priests. Solon passed the tale to Dropides, the great-grandfather of Critias. Critias learned of it from his grandfather also named Critias, son of Dropides.


The dialogues that follow were written by Plato some time around 360 BC and are English translations by Benjamin Jowett:

Note: The pages and paragraphs of the dialogues are a convenience created by myself. They are not a part of the originals but are intended to make load times relatively short and to make reading on computer monitors less of a strain.

Timaeus

Serves only as a brief introduction to Atlantis, a preface. The majority of the writing actually deals with a description of the creation of the world and explanation of natural phenomena. Page 2 is the only part of Timaeus which references and describes Atlantis.

Goto Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14

Critias

Provides a detailed description of the lost island and its people as well as information about the ancient Athenians.

Goto Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8


Cast of Characters

All of the men, except for Timaeus, who take part in or are mentioned in Timaeus and Critias are known to have actually existed in ancient Greece. Records of their lives and deeds have been recorded in other writings from the time period.

Note: There are 2 people named Critias related to the story of Atlantis and this can lead to some confusion. There is the Critias who actually takes part in the dialogues. He is the one who tells the story of Atlantis to Socrates. Then there is Critias who was the grandfather of the Critias of the dialogues. This elder Critias told the story of Atlantis to his grandson, Critias, who then conveyed the story to Socrates in the dialogues.

Those who actually take part in the dialogues:

  • Timaeus - there is no historical record of him.
  • Critias - Plato's great grandfather.
  • Socrates - Plato's mentor and teacher. He was condemned to death by authorities in Athens for "corrupting the moral of Athenian youth"; He lived from 469 to 399 BC.
  • Hermocrates - statesman and soldier from Syracuse.
  • Those mentioned in the dialogues:

  • Solon - Athenian traveler, poet, and lawgiver who lived from approximately 638-559 BC. According to Plato it was he who learned of the story of Atlantis from an Egyptian priest.
  • Dropides - Critias' great grandfather who was told the story of Atlantis by Solon, a distant relative and close friend.
  • Critias - Son of Dropides and grandfather of the Critias who takes part in the dialogues. It was he who related the story of Atlantis to the Critias of the dialogues.


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