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Produced by Sue Asscher, and David Widger

by Plato
Translated by Benjamin Jowett

The Critias is a fragment which breaks off in the middle of a sentence. It was designed to be the second part of a trilogy, which, like the other great Platonic trilogy of the Sophist, Statesman, Philosopher, was never completed. Timaeus had brought down the origin of the world to the creation of man, and the dawn of history was now to succeed the philosophy of nature. The Critias is also connected with the Republic. Plato, as he has already told us (Tim.), intended to represent the ideal state engaged in a patriotic conflict. This mythical conflict is prophetic or symbolical of the struggle of Athens and Persia, perhaps in some degree also of the wars of the Greeks and Carthaginians, in the same way that the Persian is prefigured by the Trojan war to the mind of Herodotus, or as the narrative of the first part of the Aeneid is intended by Virgil to foreshadow the wars of Carthage and Rome. The small number of the primitive Athenian citizens (20,000), 'which is about their present number' (Crit.), is evidently designed to contrast with the myriads and barbaric array of the Atlantic hosts. The passing remark in the Timaeus that Athens was left alone in the struggle, in which she conquered and became the liberator of Greece, is also an allusion to the later history. Hence we may safely conclude that the entire narrative is due to the imagination of Plato, who has used the name of Solon and introduced the Egyptian priests to give verisimilitude to his story. To the Greek such a tale, like that of the earth-born men, would have seemed perfectly accordant with the character of his mythology, and not more marvellous than the wonders of the East narrated by Herodotus and others: he might have been deceived into believing it. But it appears strange that later ages should have been imposed upon by the fiction. As many attempts have been made to find the great island of Atlantis, as to discover the country of the lost tribes. Without regard to the description of Plato, and without a suspicion that the whole narrative is a fabrication, interpreters have looked for the spot in every part of the globe, America, Arabia Felix, Ceylon, Palestine, Sardinia, Sweden. Timaeus concludes with a prayer that his words may be acceptable to the God whom he has revealed, and Critias, whose turn follows, begs that a larger measure of indulgence may be conceded to him, because he has to speak of men whom we know and not of gods whom we do not know. Socrates readily grants his request, and anticipating that Hermocrates will make a similar petition, extends by anticipation a like indulgence to him. Critias returns to his story, professing only to repeat what Solon was told by the priests. The war of which he was about to speak had occurred 9000 years ago. One of the combatants was the city of Athens, the other was the great island of Atlantis. Critias proposes to speak of these rival powers first of all, giving to Athens the precedence; the various tribes of Greeks and barbarians who took part in the war will be dealt with as they successively appear on the scene. In the beginning the gods agreed to divide the earth by lot in a friendly manner, and when they had made the allotment they settled their several countries, and were the shepherds or rather the pilots of mankind, whom they guided by persuasion, and not by force. Hephaestus and Athena, brother and sister deities, in mind and art united, obtained as

The country was then..And the armed image of the goddess which was dedicated by the ancient Athenians is an evidence to other ages that men and women had in those days. including handicraftsmen and husbandmen and a superior class of warriors who dwelt apart. and included the Pnyx.. and were educated. and inland to the heights of Parnes and Cithaeron. of whom Poseidon became enamoured. and then they left their gardens and dining-halls. and taught them how to order the state.. Some of their names. and there they settled a brave race of children of the soil. They were a just and famous race. in which they held their syssitia. common virtues and pursuits. and the remnant who survived in the mountains were ignorant of the art of writing. They were careful to preserve the number of fighting men and women at 20. Here he begat a family .000. Erechtheus. which is equal to that of the present military force. and supplied the land with all things needed for the life of man. and abounded in rich plains and pastures.. but the memory of their deeds has passed away. He to secure his love enclosed the mountain with rings or zones varying in size. about fifty stadia from the plain. two of land and three of sea. Erichthonius. In winter they retired into houses on the north of the hill. These were modest dwellings. In the midst of the Acropolis was a fountain. no man could get into the place. And so they passed their lives as guardians of the citizens and leaders of the Hellenes. And the inhabitants of this fair land were endowed with intelligence and the love of beauty. and.In the division of the earth Poseidon obtained as his portion the island of Atlantis. But in the course of ages much of the soil was washed away and disappeared in the deep sea. were preserved and adopted in later times. The Acropolis of the ancient Athens extended to the Ilissus and Eridanus. as what remains of it still is. and he enquired their meaning and translated them. Attica in those days extended southwards to the Isthmus. and had all things in common. of this there are still some traces. which his divine power readily enabled him to excavate and fashion. celebrated for their beauty and virtue all over Europe and Asia. but first I ought to explain that the Greek names were given to Solon in an Egyptian form. In summer time the south side was inhabited by them. as there was no shipping in those days. the most fertile in the world. and during many generations were wholly devoted to acquiring the means of life. There were various classes of citizens. To the interior island he conveyed under the earth springs of water hot and cold. and there he begat children whose mother was a mortal. in an enclosure which was like the garden of a single house. and is now in my possession. there was a low mountain in which dwelt a man named Evenor and his wife Leucippe. for there have since been many deluges. and between them and the sea included the district of Oropus. like our guardians. and their daughter Cleito. which they bequeathed unaltered to their children's children. The side of the hill was inhabited by craftsmen and husbandmen.their lot the land of Attica. and near the centre. which gave an abundant supply of cool water in summer and warm in winter. Towards the sea and in the centre of the island there was a very fair and fertile plain. and the warriors dwelt by themselves on the summit. such as Cecrops. and Erysichthon. a land suited to the growth of virtue and wisdom. as they ought always to have. around the temples of Hephaestus and Athene. His manuscript was left with my grandfather Dropides. having a level surface and deep soil. And now I will speak to you of their adversaries. and the Lycabettus on the opposite side to the Pnyx.

and where falling out of the straight line followed the circular ditch. as well as the canals of the interior. The entire country was divided into sixty thousand lots. and there were palaces. These they used. and was crowded with dwellings. which was covered with silver. and touching the roof with his head. two archers. riding on dolphins. or Gadeirus. This depth received the streams which came down from the mountains. And their kingdom extended as far as Egypt and Tyrrhenia. . two horses and riders upon them. And there were temples in the zones. The docks were full of triremes and stores. and there was Poseidon's own temple. and made a way to and from the royal palace which they built in the centre island. and palaces. and an attendant and charioteer. the most trusted of them were stationed in the citadel. The outermost of the walls was coated with brass. a pair of chariot-horses without a seat. Outside the temple were placed golden statues of all the descendants of the ten kings and of their wives. and by aqueducts over the bridges to the outer circles. and separate baths for women. and in the larger of the two there was a racecourse for horses. and trees. and great treasures derived from mines—among them that precious metal orichalcum. This ancient palace was ornamented by successive generations. the second with tin. and trees bearing fruit. The other brothers he made chiefs over the rest of the island. The guards were distributed in the zones according to the trust reposed in them. and there was abundance of wood.consisting of five pairs of twin male children. and the harbour and canal resounded with the din of human voices. each of which was a square of ten stadia. which they sometimes intermingled for the sake of ornament. corresponding to the greatness and glory both of the kingdom and of the temple. The zones of earth were surrounded by walls made of stone of divers colours. The plain around the city was highly cultivated and sheltered from the north by mountains. and the rest of the interior was lined with orichalcum. and suitable buildings surrounding them. and the third. and found a way to the sea. and also for cattle. and there were baths both of the kings and of private individuals. and fragrant herbs. black and white and red. Also there were fountains of hot and cold water. which was the wall of the citadel. there was an altar too. The water from the baths was carried to the grove of Poseidon. it was oblong. and harbours. and pastures for animals of all kinds. Eumelus. and docks. In the interior of the citadel was a holy temple. and employed themselves in constructing their temples. they bridged over the zones of sea. and surrounded by an enclosure of gold. and herds of elephants. around him were a hundred Nereids. and grasses. which ran all round the island. and him he made king of the centre island. flashed with the red light of orichalcum. Within was an image of the god standing in a chariot drawn by six winged horses. adorned with gold and silver and orichalcum. and they dug a canal which passed through the zones of land from the island to the sea. he assigned that part of the country which was nearest the Straits. in the following manner:—First. so as to make up ten thousand chariots. dedicated to Cleito and Poseidon. The eldest was Atlas. and as they quarried they hollowed out beneath the edges of the zones double docks having roofs of rock. two hoplites. and the pinnacles with gold. The roof was of ivory. The land between the harbour and the sea was surrounded by a wall. while to his twin brother. and the owner of a lot was bound to furnish the sixth part of a war-chariot. Now Atlas had a fair posterity. which was of an incredible depth.

The relations of the different governments to one another were determined by the injunctions of Poseidon. that the truth of the story is a great advantage: (2) the manner in which traditional names and indications of geography are intermingled ('Why. shedding the blood of the victim over the inscription. Grote is inclined to believe in the Egyptian poem of Solon of . But gradually the divine portion of their souls became diluted with too much of the mortal admixture. as in the Old Epic poetry: (4) the ingenious reason assigned for the Greek names occurring in the Egyptian tale: (5) the remark that the armed statue of Athena indicated the common warrior life of men and women: (6) the particularity with which the third deluge before that of Deucalion is affirmed to have been the great destruction: (7) the happy guess that great geological changes have been effected by water: (8) the indulgence of the prejudice against sailing beyond the Columns. For many generations. In modern times we hardly seek for traces of the submerged continent. and the king was not to have the power of life and death over his kinsmen. compared with the statement made in an earlier passage that Poseidon. Around the temple ranged the bulls of Poseidon. and they began to degenerate. The world. and were to come to the rescue if any of their brethren were attacked. found no difficulty in contriving the water-supply of the centre island: (10) the mention of the old rivalry of Poseidon and Athene. and 'yet he could only repeat what he had heard'. and four sailors to make up the complement of twelve hundred ships. has readily. being a God. and the creation of the first inhabitants out of the soil. and practised gentleness and wisdom in their intercourse with one another. unless he had the assent of the majority. and the popular belief of the shallowness of the ocean in that part: (9) the confession that the depth of the ditch in the Island of Atlantis was not to be believed. he spoke as follows:— No one knew better than Plato how to invent 'a noble lie. The all-seeing Zeus. like a child. one of which the ten kings caught and sacrificed. The most important of their laws related to their dealings with one another. held a council of the gods. They were to deliberate in common about war. they put on azure robes and gave judgment against offenders. and vowing not to transgress the laws of their father Poseidon. ingeniously gives the impression that he is telling the truth which mythology had corrupted. at which the kings and princes gathered together and held a festival every fifth and every sixth year alternately. and when he had called them together. though to the outward eye they appeared glorious as ever at the very time when they were filled with all iniquity. accepted the tale of the Island of Atlantis. but even Mr. here be truths!'): (3) the extreme minuteness with which the numbers are given. the people of Atlantis were obedient to the laws and to the gods.' Observe (1) the innocent declaration of Socrates. They knew that they could only have the true use of riches by not caring about them. When night came. as tradition tells.two slingers. three stone-shooters. wanting to punish them. They were not to take up arms against one another. three javelin-men. Plato here. as elsewhere. and for the most part unhesitatingly. which had been inscribed by the first kings on a column of orichalcum in the temple of Poseidon. Each of the ten kings was absolute in his own city and kingdom.

'rests upon the authority of the Egyptian priests.' He never appears to suspect that there is a greater deceiver or magician than the Egyptian priests. Their Oriental wealth. and variety of colours. he says nothing of the community of wives and children. Martin. Yet we know that his character was accounted infamous by Xenophon. Rep. Plato probably intended to show that a state. are disposed to find in it a vestige of a widely-spread tradition. discussions like those of M. from the dominion of whose genius the critic and natural philosopher of modern times are not wholly emancipated.which there is no evidence in antiquity. or from advancing age. Why the Critias was never completed. discuss the Egyptian origin of the legend. In the island of Atlantis. or from a sense of the artistic difficulty of the design. It is singular that Plato should have prefixed the most detested of Athenian names to this dialogue.).' says M. But all such empires were liable to degenerate.). de Humboldt. may have suggested the introduction of his name. Even in a great empire there might be a degree of virtue and justice. he idealizes the husbandmen 'who are lovers of honour and true husbandmen. Plato's characters have no reference to the actual facts. while others. It is remarkable that in his brief sketch of them. and that though he speaks of the common pursuits of men and women. . like Martin. Plato himself. cannot be determined. adopting a different vein of reflection. that is to say. Others. and even more singular that he should have put into the mouth of Socrates a panegyric on him (Tim. Although worthless in respect of any result which can be attained by them. though matched against any number of opponents (cp. seemed also to be at variance with the simplicity of Greek notions. and the Egyptian priests took a pleasure in deceiving the Greeks. as showing how the chance word of some poet or philosopher has given birth to endless religious or historical enquiries. to which he opposes the frugal life of the true Hellenic citizen. Plato is describing a sort of Babylonian or Egyptian city. such as the ideal Athens. and splendour of gold and silver. and may be compared to the similar discussions regarding the Lost Tribes (2 Esdras). The desire to do honour to his own family. regard the Island of Atlantis as the anticipation of a still greater island—the Continent of America.) In contrasting the small Greek city numbering about twenty thousand inhabitants with the barbaric greatness of the island of Atlantis.' as well as the warriors who are his sole concern in the Republic. or like M. (See Introduction to the Timaeus. such as the Greeks believed to have existed under the sway of the first Persian kings. and that the mere acquaintance with him was made a subject of accusation against Socrates. whether from accident. was invincible. and soon incurred the anger of the gods. and the connection with Solon. Martin (Timee) have an interest of their own. 'The tale. and perhaps in some other cases. whom he quotes. We can only infer that in this.

who is to speak next according to our agreement. and our familiar knowledge makes us severe judges of any one who does not render every point of similarity. And although I very well know that my request may appear to be somewhat ambitious and discourteous. that knowing nothing precise about such matters. For will any man of sense deny that you have spoken well? I can only attempt to show that I ought to have more indulgence than you. and further. we do not examine or analyze the painting. I pray him to give me knowledge. may be at rest! And I pray the being who always was of old. you must excuse me. that I have arrived at last. then. I must make it nevertheless. and the different degrees of gratification with which the eye of the spectator receives them. and the just retribution of him who errs is that he should be set right. But I should like to make my meaning clearer. we are satisfied with a picture of divine and heavenly things which has very little likeness to them. and has now been by me revealed. And now having offered my prayer I deliver up the argument to Critias. we shall see that we are satisfied with the artist who is able in any degree to imitate the earth and its mountains. Wherefore if at the moment of speaking I cannot suitably express my meaning. Timaeus.CRITIAS. to speak truly in future concerning the generation of the gods. Hermocrates. considering that to form approved likenesses of human things is the reverse of easy. This is what I want to suggest to you. and at the same time to beg. to grant that my words may endure in so far as they have been spoken truly and acceptably to him. TIMAEUS: How thankful I am. that I may have not less. but if unintentionally I have said anything wrong. because my theme is more difficult. Socrates. I pray that he will impose upon me a just retribution. and the woods. and the universe. Socrates. and. and we know how ignorant we are concerning the gods. But when a person endeavours to paint the human form we are quick at finding out defects. (Tim. PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: Critias. which of all medicines is the most perfect and best. and I shall argue that to seem to speak well of the gods to men is far easier than to speak well of men to men: for the inexperience and utter ignorance of his hearers about any subject is a great assistance to him who has to speak of it. For if we consider the likenesses which painters make of bodies divine and heavenly. like a weary traveller after a long journey. accept the trust. and as you at first said that you were going to speak of high matters. All that is said by any of us can only be imitation and representation. all that is required is a sort of indistinct and deceptive mode of shadowing them forth. if you will follow me. and the things that are and move therein. and the rivers. Socrates. but we are more precise in our criticism of mortal and human things. and begged that some forbearance might be shown to you. I too ask the same or greater forbearance for what I am about to say. Wishing. And we may observe the same thing to happen in discourse. Timaeus.) CRITIAS: And I. but more indulgence .

that faint heart never yet raised a trophy. Of the combatants on the one side. let him understand that the indulgence is already extended by anticipation to him. I will proceed. knowing this. as well as to you and Timaeus. and when afterwards sunk by an earthquake. and that you will need a great deal of indulgence before you will be able to take his place. became an impassable barrier of mud to voyagers sailing from hence to any part of the ocean. Let me begin by observing first of all. you. was an island greater in extent than Libya and Asia. First invoke Apollo and the Muses. as they successively appear on the scene. Which favour. Critias. Critias. that they would seek to procure for themselves by contention that which more properly belonged to others. we will grant your request. meanwhile I accept your exhortations and encouragements. Socrates. the gravity of the situation will soon be revealed to you. which you have addressed to him. Polit. and then let us hear you sound the praises and show forth the virtues of your ancient citizens. who are stationed last and have another in front of you. In the days of old. In order. for you cannot rightly suppose that the gods did not know what was proper for each of them to have. for I have no doubt that when his turn comes a little while hence. making no more excuses. the gods had the whole earth distributed among them by allotment (Cp. have not lost heart as yet. for all the important part of my discourse is dependent on her favour. if I am right in asking.) There was no quarrelling. But besides the gods and goddesses whom you have mentioned. HERMOCRATES: The warning. that nine thousand was the sum of years which had elapsed since the war which was said to have taken place between those who dwelt outside the pillars of Heracles and all who dwelt within them. Let us give the precedence to Athens. the city of Athens was reported to have been the leader and to have fought out the war. And now. They are of opinion that the last performer was wonderfully successful. or. SOCRATES: Certainly. and if I can recollect and recite enough of what was said by the priests and brought hither by Solon. which. I must also take to myself.conceded to me in what I am about to say. he will make the same request which you have made. but I must describe first of all the Athenians of that day. I will announce to you the judgment of the theatre. the combatants on the other side were commanded by the kings of Atlantis. and their enemies who fought with them. friend Critias. CRITIAS: Friend Hermocrates. I doubt not that I shall satisfy the requirements of this theatre. and we will grant the same by anticipation to Hermocrates. as I was saying. The progress of the history will unfold the various nations of barbarians and families of Hellenes which then existed. And now. and therefore you must go and attack the argument like a man. I would specially invoke Mnemosyne. But remember. and not be compelled to say the same things over again. this war I am going to describe. I hope that you will be ready to grant. that he may provide himself with a fresh beginning. then. and then the respective powers and governments of the two kingdoms. They .

but they regarded all that they had as common property. and there was also a warrior class originally set apart by divine men. such as Cecrops. and had all things suitable for nurture and education. and peopled their own districts. And they practised all the pursuits which we yesterday described as those of our imaginary guardians. And this is the reason why the names of the ancients have been preserved to us and not their actions. The names they were willing enough to give to their children. Concerning the country the Egyptian priests said what is not only probable but manifestly true. excepting only that they did not use blows or bodily force. and there they implanted brave children of the soil. This I infer because Solon said that the priests in their narrative of that war mentioned most of the names which are recorded prior to the time of Theseus. but governed us like pilots from the stern of the vessel. their nurselings and possessions. nor did they claim to receive of the other citizens anything more than their necessary food.all of them by just apportionment obtained what they wanted. as shepherds do. that the boundaries were in those days fixed by the Isthmus. Now the country was inhabited in those days by various classes of citizens.—there were artisans. and being united also in the love of philosophy and art. neither had any of them anything of their own. they knew only by obscure traditions. the boundary line came down in the direction of the sea. if they please. to be a testimony that all animals which associate together. and when they see that the necessaries of life have already been provided. since military pursuits were then common to men and women. Arist. holding our souls by the rudder of persuasion according to their own pleasure. Moreover. The land was the best in the world. and Erysichthon. they directed their attention to the supply of their wants. raised from the surrounding people. their names are preserved. both obtained as their common portion this land. who were brother and sister. for mythology and the enquiry into antiquity are first introduced into cities when they begin to have leisure (Cp. and they were ignorant of the art of writing. to the neglect of events that had happened in times long past. and was therefore able in those days to support a vast army. but very little about their actions. but their actions have disappeared by reason of the destruction of those who received the tradition. may. Even the remnant of Attica which now exists may compare with any region in the world for the .—thus did they guide all mortal creatures. and the lapse of ages. as I have already said.). and Erichthonius. and Erechtheus. having a common nature. as shepherds tend their flocks. but the virtues and the laws of their predecessors. and there were husbandmen. they were men who dwelt in the mountains. having the district of Oropus on the right. which is an easy way of guiding animals. and of them they conversed. Metaphys. and as they themselves and their children lacked for many generations the necessaries of life. and had heard only the names of the chiefs of the land. The latter dwelt by themselves. Now different gods had their allotments in different places which they set in order. and the names of the women in like manner. and when they had peopled them they tended us. Hephaestus and Athene. and sprang from the same father. practise in common the virtue which belongs to them without distinction of sex. and put into their minds the order of government. and with the river Asopus as the limit on the left. the men of those days in accordance with the custom of the time set up a figure and image of the goddess in full armour. but not before. male as well as female. and that in the direction of the continent they extended as far as the heights of Cithaeron and Parnes. which was naturally adapted for wisdom and virtue. For when there were any survivors.

and abundance of water. In the first place the Acropolis was not as now. which moreover they had enclosed with a single fence like the garden of a single house. the land reaped the benefit of the annual rainfall. which was cultivated. there has never been any considerable accumulation of the soil coming down from the mountains. and built modest houses in which they and their children's children grew . it let off into the hollows the streams which it absorbed from the heights. and the mere skeleton of the land being left. of Phelleus were full of rich earth. as in the case of small islands. but in those days the country was fair as now and yielded far more abundant produce. and had all the buildings which they needed for their common life. and had a soil the best in the world. but. besides temples. and were lovers of honour. and there was abundance of wood in the mountains. as they are termed by us. not so very long ago there were still to be seen roofs of timber cut from trees growing there. Moreover. providing everywhere abundant fountains and rivers. Many great deluges have taken place during the nine thousand years. For the fact is that a single night of excessive rain washed away the earth and laid bare the rock. and included the Pnyx on one side. Such was the natural state of the country. there are remaining only the bones of the wasted body. But in primitive times the hill of the Acropolis extended to the Eridanus and Ilissus. and then occurred the extraordinary inundation. but there was no adorning of them with gold and silver. and this proves the truth of what I am saying. Now the city in those days was arranged on this wise. as we may well believe. the warrior class dwelt by themselves around the temples of Athene and Hephaestus at the summit. as in other places. its mountains were high hills covered with soil. and during all this time and through so many changes. and there were many other high trees. but the earth has fallen away all round and sunk out of sight. while the surrounding basin of the sea is everywhere deep in the neighbourhood of the shore. and level at the top. for although some of the mountains now only afford sustenance to bees. cultivated by man and bearing abundance of food for cattle. for that is the number of years which have elapsed since the time of which I am speaking. and in the heaven above an excellently attempered climate. having an abundant supply in all places. not as now losing the water which flows off the bare earth into the sea. who made husbandry their business. Outside the Acropolis and under the sides of the hill there dwelt artisans. for they made no use of these for any purpose.variety and excellence of its fruits and the suitableness of its pastures to every sort of animal. which was the third before the great destruction of Deucalion. all the richer and softer parts of the soil having fallen away. except in one or two places. and such of the husbandmen as were tilling the ground near. The consequence is. by true husbandmen. On the north side they had dwellings in common and had erected halls for dining in winter. they took a middle course between meanness and ostentation. as they may be called. Of this last the traces still remain. which were of a size sufficient to cover the largest houses. and the Lycabettus as a boundary on the opposite side to the Pnyx. at the same time there were earthquakes. How shall I establish my words? and what part of it can be truly called a remnant of the land that then was? The whole country is only a long promontory extending far into the sea away from the rest of the continent. which proves what I am saying. that in comparison of what then was. of which there may still be observed sacred memorials in places where fountains once existed. and the plains. and was all well covered with soil. and of a noble nature. and receiving it into herself and treasuring it up in the close clay soil. But in the primitive state of the country.

being so many as were required for warlike purposes. there was a mountain not very high on any side. The tale. which was of great length. who was intending to use the tale for his poem. that they distributed the whole earth into portions differing in extent. for I have told how they came to be introduced. began as follows:— I have before remarked in speaking of the allotments of the gods. if I have not forgotten what I heard when I was a child. Yet. but in those days the fountain gave an abundant supply of water for all and of suitable temperature in summer and in winter. He himself. and was carefully studied by me when I was a child. and settled them in a part of the island. always the same. you must not be surprised. encircling one another. Near the plain again. For friends should not keep their stories to themselves. and they handed them down to others who were like themselves. And they took care to preserve the same number of men and women through all time. The maiden had already reached womanhood. and made for themselves temples and instituted sacrifices. enquired into the meaning of the names. and breaking the ground. each having its circumference equidistant every way from the centre. that you must not be surprised if you should perhaps hear Hellenic names given to foreigners. about twenty thousand. and also in the centre of the island at a distance of about fifty stadia. whose name was Evenor. bringing up two springs of water from beneath the earth. In this mountain there dwelt one of the earth-born primeval men of that country. Therefore if you hear names such as are used in this country. Where the Acropolis now is there was a fountain. Dropides. And next. I ought to warn you. and then the southern side of the hill was made use of by them for the same purpose. who were their willing followers. they were renowned all over Europe and Asia for the beauty of their persons and for the many virtues of their souls. Such were the ancient Athenians. when her father and mother died. before proceeding further in the narrative. This is how they dwelt. And Poseidon. But in summer-time they left their gardens and gymnasia and dining halls. then as now—that is to say. but in the centre of the whole island. which was choked by the earthquake. inclosed the hill in which she dwelt all round. for ships and voyages were not as yet. begat children by a mortal woman. which I will describe. one of warm water and the other of cold. but have them in common. I will tell you the reason of this: Solon. My greatgrandfather. and they had an only daughter who was called Cleito. and making every . I will impart to you the character and origin of their adversaries. found no difficulty in making special arrangements for the centre island. being the guardians of their own citizens and the leaders of the Hellenes. which is still in my possession. receiving for his lot the island of Atlantis. being a god. and of all men who lived in those days they were the most illustrious. there was a plain which is said to have been the fairest of all plains and very fertile. making alternate zones of sea and land larger and smaller. and found that the early Egyptians in writing them down had translated them into their own language. and he recovered the meaning of the several names and when copying them out again translated them into our language. had the original writing. there were two of land and three of water. Poseidon fell in love with her and had intercourse with her. which he turned as with a lathe. and after this manner they righteously administered their own land and the rest of Hellas. Looking towards the sea. and has left only the few small streams which still exist in the vicinity. so that no man could get to the island.old. and he had a wife named Leucippe.

facing the country which is now called the region of Gades in that part of the world. and are fruits which spoil with keeping. and Autochthon to the one who followed him. so there was for the animal which is the largest and most voracious of all. In the first place. orichalcum. He also begat and brought up five pairs of twin male children. both in the city and country. And they arranged the whole country in the following manner:— . and the pleasant kinds of dessert. For because of the greatness of their empire many things were brought to them from foreign countries. both the dry sort. All these and their descendants for many generations were the inhabitants and rulers of divers islands in the open sea. and also. Gadeirus. or essences which distil from fruit and flower. or herbage. meanwhile they went on constructing their temples and palaces and harbours and docks. also the fruit which admits of cultivation. he gave to the first-born of the eldest pair his mother's dwelling and the surrounding allotment. and to the younger that of Diaprepes. and after him the whole island and the ocean were called Atlantic. and is not likely ever to be again. and also for those which live in mountains and on plains. he gave the name which in the Hellenic language is Eumelus. the others he made princes. who was born after him. was dug out of the earth in many parts of the island. and a large territory. There was an abundance of wood for carpenter's work.variety of food to spring up abundantly from the soil. in the language of the country which is named after him. Also whatever fragrant things there now are in the earth. solid as well as fusile. brought forth fair and wondrous and in infinite abundance. and the fruits having a hard rind. and made him king over the rest. for as there was provision for all other sorts of animals. And he named them all. whether roots. which furnish pleasure and amusement. and gave them rule over many men. he named Atlas. and the island itself provided most of what was required by them for the uses of life. with which we console ourselves after dinner. which is given us for nourishment and any other which we use for food—we call them all by the common name of pulse. when we are tired of eating—all these that sacred island which then beheld the light of the sun. and obtained as his lot the extremity of the island towards the pillars of Heracles. and good store of chestnuts and the like. and the other Evaemon. To his twin brother. being more precious in those days than anything except gold. the eldest son handing it on to his eldest for many generations. they dug out of the earth whatever was to be found there. To the elder of the third pair of twins he gave the name Mneseus. and they retained the kingdom. they held sway in our direction over the country within the pillars as far as Egypt and Tyrrhenia. With such blessings the earth freely furnished them. the eldest. who was the first king. Of the second pair of twins he called one Ampheres. and dividing the island of Atlantis into ten portions. And of the fifth pair he gave to the elder the name of Azaes. as has been already said. both for those which live in lakes and marshes and rivers. Of the fourth pair of twins he called the elder Elasippus. or woods. affording drinks and meats and ointments. and sufficient maintenance for tame and wild animals. and that which is now only a name and was then something more than a name. and the younger Mestor. there were a great number of elephants in the island. which was the largest and best. grew and thrived in that land. Moreover. and they were furnished with everything which they needed. Now Atlas had a numerous and honourable family. and they had such an amount of wealth as was never before possessed by kings and potentates.

and all the other parts. The palaces in the interior of the citadel were constructed on this wise:—In the centre was a holy temple dedicated to Cleito and Poseidon. Here was Poseidon's own temple which was a stadium in length. which went round the outermost zone. and thither the people annually brought the fruits of the earth in their season from all the ten portions. and there were many other great offerings of kings and of private persons. and as they quarried. and to be a natural source of delight. they covered with silver. which they carried through to the outermost zone. The stone which was used in the work they quarried from underneath the centre island. were two stadia. the one of water. and half a stadium in width. they at the same time hollowed out double docks. having roofs formed out of the native rock. In the interior of the temple the roof was of ivory. And around the temple on the outside were placed statues of gold of all the descendants of the ten kings and of their wives. and they covered over the channels so as to leave a way underneath for the ships. and the zone of land which came next of equal breadth. they surrounded by a stone wall on every side. and a third red. but in others they put together different stones. which encompassed the citadel. And beginning from the sea they bored a canal of three hundred feet in width and one hundred feet in depth and fifty stadia in length. and the one which surrounded the central island was a stadium only in width. having a strange barbaric appearance. and the third.First of all they bridged over the zones of sea which surrounded the ancient metropolis. which became a harbour. which remained inaccessible. flashed with the red light of orichalcum. The island in which the palace was situated had a diameter of five stadia. for the banks were raised considerably above the water. around him there were a hundred Nereids riding on dolphins. Now the largest of the zones into which a passage was cut from the sea was three stadia in breadth. with the exception of the pinnacles. which was the sixth part of a stadium in width. until they made the building a marvel to behold for size and for beauty. and the pinnacles with gold. this was the spot where the family of the ten princes first saw the light. the walls and pillars and floor. Some of their buildings were simple. the other of land. and leaving an opening sufficient to enable the largest vessels to find ingress. for such was thought to be the number of them by the men of those days. All the outside of the temple. All this including the zones and the bridge. they divided at the bridges the zones of land which parted the zones of sea. There was . on the outer as well as the inner side. One kind was white. leaving room for a single trireme to pass out of one zone into another. In the temple they placed statues of gold: there was the god himself standing in a chariot—the charioteer of six winged horses—and of such a size that he touched the roof of the building with his head. which they continued to ornament in successive generations. and from underneath the zones. and was surrounded by an enclosure of gold. but the next two zones. making a passage from the sea up to this. making a road to and from the royal palace. every king surpassing the one who went before him to the utmost of his power. they coated with orichalcum. placing towers and gates on the bridges where the sea passed in. they covered with a coating of brass. There were also in the interior of the temple other images which had been dedicated by private persons. Moreover. And at the very beginning they built the palace in the habitation of the god and of their ancestors. and of a proportionate height. varying the colour to please the eye. and the circuit of the next wall they coated with tin. to be an offering to each of the ten. another black. coming both from the city itself and from the foreign cities over which they held sway. curiously wrought everywhere with gold and silver and orichalcum. The entire circuit of the wall.

The surrounding mountains were celebrated for their number and size and beauty. This part of the island looked towards the south. the more trusted of whom were appointed to keep watch in the lesser zone. I have described the city and the environs of the ancient palace nearly in the words of Solon. where were growing all manner of trees of wonderful height and beauty. abundant for each and every kind of work. itself surrounded by mountains which descended towards the sea. wild or tame. there were the kings' baths. while the remainder was conveyed by aqueducts along the bridges to the outer circles. owing to the excellence of the altar too. and for horses and cattle. and now I must endeavour to represent to you the nature and arrangement of the rest of the land. . The entire area was densely crowded with habitations. others roofed over. answered to the greatness of the kingdom and the glory of the temple. one of cold and another of hot water. but across the centre inland it was two thousand stadia. Leaving the palace and passing out across the three harbours. and they were wonderfully adapted for use by reason of the pleasantness and excellence of their waters. while the most trusted of all had houses given them within the citadel. and all things were quite ready for use. and the palaces. They constructed buildings about them and planted suitable trees. to be used in winter as warm baths. and others for horses in both of the two islands formed by the zones. and din and clatter of all sorts night and day. the ends meeting at the mouth of the channel which led to the sea. some for men. In the next place. some open to the heaven. Enough of the plan of the royal palace. in like manner. in gracious plenty flowing. and there were separate baths for women. and lakes. and much wood of various sorts. also gardens and places of exercise. from their numbers. The whole country was said by him to be very lofty and precipitous on the side of the sea. and the canal and the largest of the harbours were full of vessels and merchants coming from all parts. Also there were guard-houses at intervals for the guards. they had fountains. and in length allowed to extend all round the island. and there were many temples built and dedicated to many gods. who. kept up a multitudinous sound of human voices. for horses to race in. and enclosed the whole. extending in one direction three thousand stadia. which in size and workmanship corresponded to this magnificence. near the persons of the kings. and meadows supplying food enough for every animal. The docks were full of triremes and naval stores. and was sheltered from the north. and of an oblong shape. but the country immediately about and surrounding the city was a level plain. Of the water which ran off they carried some to the grove of Poseidon. and in the centre of the larger of the two there was set apart a race-course of a stadium in width. which was nearer the Acropolis. and rivers. which were kept apart. and to each of them they gave as much adornment as was suitable. it was smooth and even. also they made cisterns. you came to a wall which began at the sea and went all round: this was everywhere distant fifty stadia from the largest zone or harbour. and the baths of private persons. far beyond any which still exist. having in them also many wealthy villages of country folk.

could never have been artificial. and a pair of chariot-horses without a seat. straight canals of a hundred feet in width were cut from it through the plain. so as to make up a total of ten thousand chariots. punishing and slaying whomsoever he would. three stone-shooters and three javelin-men. likewise. each of the lots in the plain had to find a leader for the men who were fit for military service. whither the kings were gathered together every fifth and every sixth year alternately. accompanied by a horseman who could fight on foot carrying a small shield. in addition to so many others. Now the order of precedence among them and their mutual relations were regulated by the commands of Poseidon which the law had handed down. of the laws. two slingers. being left alone in the temple. and four sailors to make up the complement of twelve hundred ships. and in summer the water which the land supplied by introducing streams from the canals. As to the population. after they had offered prayers to the god that they might capture the victim which was acceptable to him. and enquired if any one had transgressed in anything. Further inland. cutting transverse passages from one canal into another. and gave the impression that a work of such extent. also. which was situated in the middle of the island. was there let off into the sea. the following was the arrangement from the first. who were lightarmed. which was distributed among the lots and had leaders assigned to them according to their districts and villages. at the temple of Poseidon. it was carried round the whole of the plain. and was ten thousand stadia in length. The depth. It was excavated to the depth of a hundred feet. As to offices and honours. and the . and. and passed judgment. and where falling out of the straight line followed the circular ditch. And of the inhabitants of the mountains and of the rest of the country there was also a vast multitude. and the size of a lot was a square of ten stadia each way. Nevertheless I must say what I was told. Such was the military order of the royal city—the order of the other nine governments varied. thus giving equal honour to the odd and to the even number. without weapons. Each of the ten kings in his own division and in his own city had the absolute control of the citizens. The leader was required to furnish for the war the sixth portion of a warchariot. but with staves and nooses. in most cases. Twice in the year they gathered the fruits of the earth—in winter having the benefit of the rains of heaven. and to the city. he was bound to furnish two heavy-armed soldiers. It was for the most part rectangular and oblong. and the total number of all the lots was sixty thousand. and length of this ditch were incredible. It received the streams which came down from the mountains. hunted the bulls. and conveyed the fruits of the earth in ships.I will now describe the plain. and having a charioteer who stood behind the manat-arms to guide the two horses. and winding round the plain and meeting at the city. and before they passed judgment they gave their pledges to one another on this wise:—There were bulls who had the range of the temple of Poseidon. and its breadth was a stadium everywhere. These were inscribed by the first kings on a pillar of orichalcum. and it would be wearisome to recount their several differences. also two horses and riders for them. and again let off into the ditch leading to the sea: these canals were at intervals of a hundred stadia. two archers. as it was fashioned by nature and by the labours of many generations of kings through long ages. and width. and by them they brought down the wood from the mountains to the city. and the ten kings. And when they were gathered together they consulted about their common interests.

nor obey any ruler who commanded them. and that for the future they would not. sitting on the ground. . but to those who had no eye to see the true happiness. uniting gentleness with wisdom in the various chances of life. for they were losing the fairest of their precious gifts. and became diluted too often and too much with the mortal admixture. Now on the pillar. and in their intercourse with one another. and this he afterwards directed against our land for the following reasons. and to him who had an eye to see grew visibly debased. they filled a bowl of wine and cast in a clot of blood for each of them.bull which they caught they led up to the pillar and cut its throat over the top of it so that the blood fell upon the sacred inscription. but when the divine portion began to fade away. at night. nor did wealth deprive them of their self-control. to act otherwise than according to the laws of their father Poseidon. They despised everything but virtue. if any of them had an accusation to bring against any one. they were to deliberate in common about war and other matters. And the king was not to have the power of life and death over any of his kinsmen unless he had the assent of the majority of the ten. they swore that they would judge according to the laws on the pillar. When therefore. they then. and saw clearly that all these goods are increased by virtue and friendship with one another. and extinguishing all the fire about the temple. and when they had given judgment. giving the supremacy to the descendants of Atlas. and would punish him who in any point had already transgressed them. after slaying the bull in the accustomed manner. and after they had supped and satisfied their needs. they were obedient to the laws. and they were all to come to the rescue if any one in any of their cities attempted to overthrow the royal house. they received and gave judgment. besides the laws. the rest of the victim they put in the fire. caring little for their present state of life. over the embers of the sacrifices by which they had sworn. and pouring a libation on the fire. This was the prayer which each of them offered up for himself and for his descendants. By such reflections and by the continuance in them of a divine nature. and the fire about the sacrifice was cool. neither were they intoxicated by luxury. for they possessed true and in every way great spirits. as long as the divine nature lasted in them. all of them put on most beautiful azure robes. the qualities which we have described grew and increased among them. whereas by too great regard and respect for them. when darkness came on. and would neither command others. and dedicated it together with their robes to be a memorial. and well-affectioned towards the god. being unable to bear their fortune. they are lost and friendship with them. Such was the vast power which the god settled in the lost island of Atlantis. which seemed only a burden to them. as tradition tells: For many generations. if they could help. but they were sober. whose seed they were. and the human nature got the upper hand. behaved unseemly. and thinking lightly of the possession of gold and other property. offend against the writing on the pillar. but the most important was the following: They were not to take up arms against one another. at daybreak they wrote down their sentences on a golden tablet. at the same time drinking and dedicating the cup out of which he drank in the temple of the god. like their ancestors. they had burnt its limbs. there was inscribed an oath invoking mighty curses on the disobedient. and. Then they drew from the bowl in golden cups. after having purified the column all round. There were many special laws affecting the several kings inscribed about the temples.

and wanting to inflict punishment on them. complying with the rules is very easy. and is able to see into such things. by Plato *** END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK CRITIAS *** ***** This file should be named 1571-h. unless you receive specific permission. performances and research. who rules according to law. Project Gutenberg is a registered trademark.htm or 1571-h. They may be modified and printed and given away--you may do practically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks. the god of gods. set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license. apply to copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark. and David Widger Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions will be renamed. that they might be chastened and Produced by Sue Asscher. Zeus. so the Foundation (and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without permission and without paying copyright royalties. especially commercial redistribution. *** START: FULL LICENSE *** THE FULL PROJECT GUTENBERG LICENSE PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU DISTRIBUTE OR USE THIS WORK . Special rules. perceiving that an honourable race was in a woeful plight. being placed in the centre of the world. You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose such as creation of derivative works. And when he had called them together. End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Critias. and may not be used if you charge for the eBooks. collected all the gods into their most holy habitation. reports. beholds all created ***** This and all associated files of various formats will be found in: http://www. he spake as follows— [*] * The rest of the Dialogue of Critias has been lost. which. Redistribution is subject to the trademark license.they appeared glorious and blessed at the very time when they were full of avarice and unrighteous power.gutenberg. Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no one owns a United States copyright in these works. If you do not charge anything for copies of this eBook.

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