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Timaeus and Critias

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  915 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Timaeus is one of Plato's dialogues, mostly in the form of a long monologue given by the title character. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings.
ebook, 146 pages
Published November 26th 2012 by Start Publishing LLC (first published -360)
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In this introduction to my copy of the Timaeus, Benjamin Jowett says: “Of all the writings of Plato the Timaeus is the most obscure and repulsive to the modern reader”—and he is, unfortunately, correct. This dialogue was very tiresome to read, and it was only through force of will and a few long train rides that I made it to the end. There is little to hold the attention, and much to baffle the sense.

I was originally drawn to the Timaeus for two reasons: I’d heard that it was the only dialogue o
Mar 20, 2013 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To be honest, I only started this book because I wanted to know more about the stories of Atlantis. If that is all you are interested in, I recommend only reading Critias as that focuses on the topic of Atlantis while Timaeus only mentions it briefly. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I got out of Timaeus. Focusing primarily on cosmology, Timaeus gave me a much greater understanding of how the Ancient Greeks viewed the universe and their role in it. Furthermore, it was helpful to m ...more
Sep 08, 2012 Varad rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Timaeus is a reminder that however much we think we understand Plato when he discusses topics like morality and justice, the nature of knowledge, education, what love is, and others which continue to challenge human ingenuity and wit, he not only speaks a different language but uses it to construct a world that is at times completely alien to our own. For although there are times when he asks the same questions we might, there are others when he asks questions, to which he expects answers, neith ...more
Jun 01, 2011 Elsie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have never read any of Plato's writing and the only purpose for picking up "Timaeus and Critias" was simply because of the frequent reference to the book by authors writing about Atlantis.

Am I glad I did, for apart from Critias and the description of the lost civilization of Atlantis, this classic in fact presents great many pleasant surprises especially within the dialogue of Timaeus, were he related how the Cosmos is likely to have come about and how the cosmic intelligence employs mathematic
Bob Nichols
Timaeus describes his cosmology to Socrates who indicates that he is in agreement with what Timaeus puts forward. Timaeus tells us there’s a divine realm that is unchanging, perfect and good. Within that realm is a supreme intelligence (god) that operates by divine reason and creates the world of necessity, which is our world of physical laws and animal appetite. God, Timaeus says, wants humans to be perfect as well but the soul struggles with the body. When reason leads us to the divine realm, ...more
Elaad Yair
Jan 08, 2015 Elaad Yair rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are new to Plato, make sure this is not the first of his book you read, for it is neither one of his best nor a typical dialogue (formally it is, however, each of the books becomes a monologue shortly after it starts).

The book has some strong parts. Plato's account of the lost city of Atlantis, especially in the Critas, is vivid. It reminded me a lot of Utopia by Thomas More (needless to say, Plato preceded More by 2 millennia and More, who read Greek and wrote his book in Latin, relied o
Jan 19, 2016 Danny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A platonic acid trip through the cosmos; the numerological ramblings will be indecipherable to anyone but the most learned specialist. To the uninitiated, this is simply unreadable. Plato's cosmic vision, as articulated by Timaeus, is theistic and highly ordered, the product of a beneficent & geometrically minded "demiurge."

In Timaeus and Critias we find the first mention of the so-called "lost" continent of Atlantis. The Critias MS breaks off just when it's getting good--right before the i
Feb 06, 2009 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy Plato, and this was the first of his works that I really got familiar with. The story of Atlantis is fascinating. Of course, being Plato, some patience is required while reading this, but it is rewarding I think and well worth the struggles and rereading that is sometimes required. Just a heads up, you will have "what the hell did I just read?" moments. Sorry, that's just part of Plato.
Daniel Wright
This is probably, to modern readers, the most bizarre, difficult and unusual of Plato's dialogues (although it's scarcely a dialogue). The fact that its ancient audience thought it his most important underlines the way expectations of what the work of a philosopher entails have changed, and is something to bear in mind and be wary of as we approach the interpretation of his other work.
Richard Thomason
Apr 13, 2015 Richard Thomason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I do not have knowledge of the ancient Greek to crtique the translation, but the prose is fluid and clear, with helpful notes explaining where there were any interesting niceties in the original language.

The author has translated, annotated and provided commentary with clarity of understanding for the reader in mind, and does a wonderful job of elucidating many of the more difficult passages (for example, those regarding Plato's theory of reflections, or the polygons constituting the basic matt
Alex Lee
Sep 17, 2015 Alex Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, philosophy
These two works together were meant to be a trilogy about Athens, Greeks and their place in the world. Unfortunately, the 3rd book was lost, or never written, and the 2nd book, Critias only survives as a fragment. Still, interesting. The three men, speak to Socartes about the nature of everything, highlighting the Other of the Greeks, the Egyptians, as being part of the primary source needed to complete the story.

The first book, Timaeus is interesting because he speaks of how the universe starte
Late Plato is an indefatigable brain melter. The Timaeus/Critias is probably the second to last dialogue before the Laws. As many have said, this used to be the Plato dialogue, though it's not much a dialogue. Timaeus spins his yarn about the Nous creating the universe and how every bit of materialism and metaphysics come into play. It's strange because this dialogue raises so many questions, much more than it attempts to answer. For the contemporary reader of Plato, the main and most famous dia ...more
Jacob Aitken
I disagree with the earlier Christian claim that Plato stole from Moses. Moses's cosmogony is infinitely more interesting and better-written. The claim is not far-off, though. Plato clearly took his work from ancient Egypt--he says as much (I have no problem with the claim that both Moses and Plato, at least in Moses' secular learning, drew from similar and ancient Egyptian sources).

It has the basic Platonic elements in it: time as a moving image of eternity; this world as a pale copy of the Et
The Timaeus is a very strange book. It attempts to explain the formation of the universe and the creation of humans. The explanations are weird and I found them somewhat disturbing. I was reminded of the surreal parody of educational television, "Look Around You". Empirical knowledge of the physical world was obviously very low which is not surprising considering the technological level of ancient Greece. I think this might be a reason why Plato considers pure rational thought to be a higher typ ...more
Jun 18, 2010 scott rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So glad I picked this up on the cheap. I was hoping these stories were Socratic dialogues, first off, and they are not. Each story is basically a monologue by the titular characters following a brief introductory dialogue.

Timaeus gives a telling of the world's creation, which would later be reused and modified by Christians for the Bible. It's long-winded and only occasionally interesting, which led me to skip sections of it.

Critias is an unfinished/abandoned work that was intended to tell the
Aug 11, 2012 George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great cosmogonical journey through our earth. Plato is God's "philosophical Moses", if you will. This great couplet of stories is inspiring and thought-provoking to the max . I was annotating almost every page. Sometimes eerie the "allusions" Plato makes to Christian cosmogonical ideas are, although Christianity did not reach Greece by this time, let alone did it exist. Timaeus is the precursor to the modern thought on cosmology, cosmogony, and astrology. Critias is a great work as we ...more
Dwight Davis
Aug 28, 2016 Dwight Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little boring at times, but a good, quick read. We get a lot of Plato's philosophy of God/the gods here, which is really interesting. Also a lot of stuff about Atlantis, which is cool too. A lot to chew on here for a theologian.
Mar 15, 2015 Kyle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are going to spend time in Plato, Waterfield's translation is excellent. Lucid and flowing. This book has copious notes to help even the beginner get a good grasp of what's going on here.
Aug 27, 2016 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is utterly fascinating to read of a time when thinkers felt they needed to answer every question, to explain every concept.
Joshua Mark
Sep 07, 2011 Joshua Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're one of the many interested in the lost continent of Atlantis then these two dialogues are definite `must reads' for you. Plato's dialogue of the Timaeus introduces Atlantis and the Critias expands and develops the earlier ideas presented. These two dialogues are THE basis for the Atlantis myth. All of the money spent on explorations through the ages to find `the lost city of Atlantis' could have been spent more wisely. Atlantis is Plato's creation. There is no mention of such a place b ...more
Stanley Lee
Aug 13, 2015 Stanley Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Learned more from this than most authors who are still alive.
Jul 31, 2012 Noah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who's remotely interested in Atlantis should look no further and read this pair of dialogues. It offers probably the most detailed (and realistic) layout on what the legendary lost civilization was like, how it was run, and what ultimately befell of it's end days. Unlike modern depictions of Atlantis being a mythical, magic place, Plato lays it out like a legit civilization, advanced but not fantastical, and paints a number of beautiful images for your imagination. It's also short and swe ...more
Sep 14, 2008 Deborah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Myth and math! Cosmology, biology, and Atlantis! Timaeus was extremely influential in medieval philosophical thought of all kinds, and holds value for the reader of today, as well. Timaeus and Critias (together or individually) can be a daunting read, but they express the same wonder at the cosmos as we do, and seek to answer the questions, "Where did we come from?" and "Why are we here?"
May 27, 2010 Dawn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Required reading for Traditional Cosmologies. Year 2, Semester 1, Latrobe University. Am having a hard time reading this...I don't understand the subtleties and the under currents nor what it has to do with Cosmologies...Maybe I should have done Greek Mythology before this subject, not after...Learning about alchemy, horoscopes and Gods/Goddesses...Still not getting it though...
not a very good text, there are better versions available. what I find hard to understand is how people expect these dialogues to ACTUALLY be about Atlantis; or to convey detailed information on the subject. you're in the wrong place, guys. this is a core Platonic text about cosmology and other related subjects; not specifically about Atlantis and its crystal temples (or whatever.)
May 18, 2010 Jesse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully religious dialogue and, once, a paradigm of science for over a millenia. So you say we don't need the scientific method? Try thinking that this is true; just because Kepler did doesn't mean you have to. Also, when you read about Atlantis, and those guys in purple robes on the beach are drafting laws, you know, this is Plato dreaming of his male escorts.
Nov 22, 2015 Whoof rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wacky and often hard to follow. It's fun to see the places where Plato's conjectures are surprisingly close to modern scientific discoveries. It's even more fun to see the places where he was wrong, as most of the ideas are plausible for what was understood at the time.

I also did not realize how much Plato cared about triangles.
Dec 11, 2009 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a bit unsettling how much information in this book was the basis for scientific thought for so long, and how powerful some of the ideas are vs. the fact that the only thing anyone seems to mention is Atlantis, which is alluded to in a relatively small portion of the book. Great follow-up to The Republic.
Dec 01, 2010 Paulina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
good morning Atlantis. sounds bollocks right now and I get really scared when thinking that this was the main basis for scientific stuff for a long time.
Plato is good, yes. but too much geometry. the universe through triangles - how cool is that?
Mar 28, 2008 Sammi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm doing research for a couple of projects on Atlantis and thought, why not start with the first known written record? I'm not really a fan of Plato in general, but so far these two dialogues haven't been too painful.
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  • Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Vol 1, Books 1-5
  • A History of Philosophy 2: Medieval Philosophy
  • The First Philosophers: The Presocratics and Sophists
  • The Athenian Constitution
  • The Nature of Greek Myths
  • Preface to Plato
  • Atlantis: The Antediluvian World
  • The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle (Companions to Philosophy)
  • Limited Inc
  • The Elizabethan World Picture
  • Against the Academicians/The Teacher
  • On Politics and Ethics
  • The Cambridge Companion to Kant
  • Natural History: A Selection
  • Monologion and Proslogion with the Replies of Gaunilo and Anselm
  • Being and Event
  • Introducing Heidegger
(Greek: Πλάτων) (Arabic: أفلاطون)
Plato is a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the foundations of Western philosophy and science.

Plato is one of the most
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“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.” 16 likes
“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. ” 12 likes
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