The Timaeus & Critias of Plato

ISBN: 0766141624
ISBN 13: 9780766141629
By: Thomas Taylor Plato

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Reader's Thoughts


I wouldn't recommend it unless you have to read it. It's not bad (it's Plato for goodness sake), it's just not what I look for in my reading.




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 sweet, which for this day and age can always be a plus.


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 full tale of Atlantis. What Plato left us was a description of the layout and rituals of Atlantis, and then he stops before detailing the war between Atlantis and Athens and Atlantis' subsequent demise. Overall, I got more out of the editor's introductory notes and appendix on Atlantis than I did Plato's stories. The stories were a waste of my time.

Valenfore Alestreneon

Two Classical Works form a Great Philosopher.


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 type of knowledge than knowledge of the outside world.The Critias is an unfinished story about a 9000 year old war between ancient Athens and Atlantis. I found this story interesting. Ancient Athens is described as having a society like the one outlined in "The Republic". The description of Atlantis is really interesting, and the Penguin Classics edition comes with two maps of the place. If you like fantasy role playing games this is really useful. There are two mythical metals mentioned in the two books. The first is adamant which is really hard and is a scion of gold. The other is orichalc, the second most valuable metal after gold. Once again cool stuff if you like fantasy role playing games.


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?"

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.

Joshua Mark

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 before he wrote these works and every piece dealing with the subject since is based upon them. Enjoy.


a committed edition of Plato's works that enables readers to presume the entire plan by the philosopher, which had been abandoned.

Amy ♥♫

This was pretty good, I guess. Now that I have read the "original" text I can safely say that I do not believe Atlantis ever existed. The descriptions of the island continent proved to me that it could not have possibly existed, especially if it was situated between Europe and America. However, there is evidence that a city did in fact sink in a single day and night . . . on the island of Crete, which is off the coast of Greece. The stories from the survivors could have inspired Plato to write about one of the world's most well-known island, Atlantis. The same could be said for El Dorado in South America and for Shangri La in the Himalayas, they are merely fictional cities that have sparked our interests and imaginations.


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.


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.

Kevin Holden

wow wow wow


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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