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Critias Benjamin Jowett Translator 2 - Plato

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CRITIAS

by Plato

Translated by Benjamin Jowett

INTRODUCTION AND ANALYSIS.

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
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