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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Physis : World Creation  

Plato's TIMAEUS : Atlantis against Athens

Timaeus 21a-27b  * Greek Fonts


RIT. I will tell an old-world story which I heard from an aged man; for Critias, at the time of telling it, was as he said, nearly ninety years of age, and I was about ten. Now the day was that day of the Apaturia which is called the Registration of Youth, at which, according to custom, our parents gave prizes for recitations, and the poems of several poets were recited by us boys, and many of us sang the poems of Solon, which at that time had not gone out of fashion. One of our tribe, either because he thought so or to please Critias, said that in his judgment Solon was not only the wisest of men, but also the noblest of poets. The old man, as I very well remember, brightened up at hearing this and said, smiling: Yes, Amynander, if Solon had only, like other poets, made poetry the business of his life, and had completed the tale which he brought with him from Egypt, and had not been compelled, by reason of the factions and troubles which he found stirring in his own country when he came home, to attend to other matters, in my opinion he would have been as famous as Homer or Hesiod, or any poet. And what was the tale about, Critias? said Amynander. About the greatest action which the Athenians ever did, and which ought to have been the most famous, but, through the lapse of time and the destruction of the actors, it has not come down to us. Tell us, said the other, the whole story, and how and from whom Solon heard this veritable tradition. He replied:-In the Egyptian Delta, at the head of which the river Nile divides, there is a certain district which is called the district of Sais, and the great city of the district is also called Sais, and is the city from which King Amasis came. The citizens have a deity for their foundress; she is called in the Egyptian tongue Neith, and is asserted by them to be the same whom the Hellenes call Athene; they are great lovers of the Athenians, and say that they are in some way related to them.

Ἀτλαντὶς κατὰ Ἀθηνῶν

ΚΡ. Ἐγὼ φράσω͵ παλαιὸν ἀκηκοὼς λόγον οὐ νέου ἀνδρός. [21b] ἦν μὲν γὰρ δὴ τότε Κριτίας͵ ὡς ἔφη͵ σχεδὸν ἐγγὺς ἤδη τῶν ἐνενήκοντα ἐτῶν͵ ἐγὼ δέ πῃ μάλιστα δεκέτης· ἡ δὲ Κουρεῶτις ἡμῖν οὖσα ἐτύγχανεν Ἀπατουρίων. τὸ δὴ τῆς ἑορτῆς σύνηθες ἑκάστοτε καὶ τότε συνέβη τοῖς παισίν· ἆθλα γὰρ ἡμῖν οἱ πατέρες ἔθεσαν ῥαψῳδίας. πολλῶν μὲν οὖν δὴ καὶ πολλὰ ἐλέχθη ποιητῶν ποιήματα͵ ἅτε δὲ νέα κατ΄ ἐκεῖνον τὸν χρόνον ὄντα τὰ Σόλωνος πολλοὶ τῶν παίδων ᾔσαμεν. εἶπεν οὖν τις τῶν φρατέρων͵ εἴτε δὴ δοκοῦν αὐτῷ τότε εἴτε καὶ χάριν τινὰ τῷ Κριτίᾳ φέρων͵ [21c] δοκεῖν οἱ τά τε ἄλλα σοφώτατον γεγονέναι Σόλωνα καὶ κατὰ τὴν ποίησιν αὖ τῶν ποιητῶν πάντων ἐλευθεριώτατον. ὁ δὴ γέρων - σφόδρα γὰρ οὖν μέμνημαι - μάλα τε ἥσθη καὶ διαμειδιάσας εἶπεν· Εἴ γε͵ ὦ Ἀμύνανδρε͵ μὴ παρέργῳ τῇ ποιήσει κατεχρήσατο͵ ἀλλ΄ ἐσπουδάκει καθάπερ ἄλλοι͵ τόν τε λόγον ὃν ἀπ΄ Αἰγύπτου δεῦρο ἠνέγκατο ἀπετέλεσεν͵ καὶ μὴ διὰ τὰς στάσεις ὑπὸ κακῶν τε ἄλλων ὅσα ηὗρεν ἐνθάδε ἥκων ἠναγκάσθη καταμελῆσαι͵ [21d] κατά γε ἐμὴν δόξαν οὔτε Ἡσίοδος οὔτε Ὅμηρος οὔτε ἄλλος οὐδεὶς ποιητὴς εὐδοκιμώτερος ἐγένετο ἄν ποτε αὐτοῦ. Τίς δ΄ ἦν ὁ λόγος͵ ἦ δ΄ ὅς͵ ὦ Κριτία; ῏Η περὶ μεγίστης͵ ἔφη͵ καὶ ὀνομαστοτάτης πασῶν δικαιότατ΄ ἂν πράξεως οὔσης͵ ἣν ἥδε ἡ πόλις ἔπραξε μέν͵ διὰ δὲ χρόνον καὶ φθορὰν τῶν ἐργασαμένων οὐ διήρκεσε δεῦρο ὁ λόγος. Λέγε ἐξ ἀρχῆς͵ ἦ δ΄ ὅς͵ τί τε καὶ πῶς καὶ παρὰ τίνων ὡς ἀληθῆ διακηκοὼς ἔλεγεν ὁ Σόλων. [21e] Ἔστιν τις κατ΄ Αἴγυπτον͵ ἦ δ΄ ὅς͵ ἐν τῷ Δέλτα͵ περὶ ὃν κατὰ κορυφὴν σχίζεται τὸ τοῦ Νείλου ῥεῦμα Σαϊτικὸς ἐπικαλούμενος νομός͵ τούτου δὲ τοῦ νομοῦ μεγίστη πόλις Σάις - ὅθεν δὴ καὶ Ἄμασις ἦν ὁ βασιλεύς - οἷς τῆς πόλεως θεὸς ἀρχηγός τίς ἐστιν͵ Αἰγυπτιστὶ μὲν τοὔνομα Νηίθ͵ Ἑλληνιστὶ δέ͵ ὡς ὁ ἐκείνων λόγος͵ Ἀθηνᾶ· μάλα δὲ φιλαθήναιοι καί τινα τρόπον οἰκεῖοι τῶνδ΄ εἶναί φασιν.

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