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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Physis : World Creation  

Plato's TIMAEUS : Atlantis against Athens

Timaeus 21a-27b  * Greek Fonts


Page 3

The fact is, that wherever the extremity of winter frost or of summer does not prevent, mankind exist, sometimes in greater, sometimes in lesser numbers. And whatever happened either in your country or in ours, or in any other region of which we are informed-if there were any actions noble or great or in any other way remarkable, they have all been written down by us of old, and are preserved in our temples. Whereas just when you and other nations are beginning to be provided with letters and the other requisites of civilized life, after the usual interval, the stream from heaven, like a pestilence, comes pouring down, and leaves only those of you who are destitute of letters and education; and so you have to begin all over again like children, and know nothing of what happened in ancient times, either among us or among yourselves. As for those genealogies of yours which you just now recounted to us, Solon, they are no better than the tales of children. In the first place you remember a single deluge only, but there were many previous ones; in the next place, you do not know that there formerly dwelt in your land the fairest and noblest race of men which ever lived, and that you and your whole city are descended from a small seed or remnant of them which survived. And this was unknown to you, because, for many generations, the survivors of that destruction died, leaving no written word. For there was a time, Solon, before the great deluge of all, when the city which now is Athens was first in war and in every way the best governed of all cities, is said to have performed the noblest deeds and to have had the fairest constitution of any of which tradition tells, under the face of heaven.

τὸ δὲ ἀληθές͵ ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς τόποις ὅπου μὴ χειμὼν ἐξαίσιος ἢ καῦμα ἀπείργει͵ πλέον͵ τοτὲ δὲ ἔλαττον ἀεὶ γένος ἐστὶν ἀνθρώπων. [23a] ὅσα δὲ ἢ παρ΄ ὑμῖν ἢ τῇδε ἢ καὶ κατ΄ ἄλλον τόπον ὧν ἀκοῇ ἴσμεν͵ εἴ πού τι καλὸν ἢ μέγα γέγονεν ἢ καί τινα διαφορὰν ἄλλην ἔχον͵ πάντα γεγραμμένα ἐκ παλαιοῦ τῇδ΄ ἐστὶν ἐν τοῖς ἱεροῖς καὶ σεσωσμένα· τὰ δὲ παρ΄ ὑμῖν καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις ἄρτι κατεσκευασμένα ἑκάστοτε τυγχάνει γράμμασι καὶ ἅπασιν ὁπόσων πόλεις δέονται͵ καὶ πάλιν δι΄ εἰωθότων ἐτῶν ὥσπερ νόσημα ἥκει φερόμενον αὐτοῖς ῥεῦμα οὐράνιον καὶ τοὺς ἀγραμμάτους τε καὶ ἀμούσους ἔλιπεν ὑμῶν͵ [23b] ὥστε πάλιν ἐξ ἀρχῆς οἷον νέοι γίγνεσθε͵ οὐδὲν εἰδότες οὔτε τῶν τῇδε οὔτε τῶν παρ΄ ὑμῖν͵ ὅσα ἦν ἐν τοῖς παλαιοῖς χρόνοις. τὰ γοῦν νυνδὴ γενεαλογηθέντα͵ ὦ Σόλων͵ περὶ τῶν παρ΄ ὑμῖν ἃ διῆλθες͵ παίδων βραχύ τι διαφέρει μύθων͵ οἳ πρῶτον μὲν ἕνα γῆς κατακλυσμὸν μέμνησθε πολλῶν ἔμπροσθεν γεγονότων͵ ἔτι δὲ τὸ κάλλιστον καὶ ἄριστον γένος ἐπ΄ ἀνθρώπους ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ παρ΄ ὑμῖν οὐκ ἴστε γεγονός͵ [23c] ἐξ ὧν σύ τε καὶ πᾶσα ἡ πόλις ἔστιν τὰ νῦν ὑμῶν͵ περιλειφθέντος ποτὲ σπέρματος βραχέος͵ ἀλλ΄ ὑμᾶς λέληθεν διὰ τὸ τοὺς περιγενομένους ἐπὶ πολλὰς γενεὰς γράμμασιν τελευτᾶν ἀφώνους. ἦν γὰρ δή ποτε͵ ὦ Σόλων͵ ὑπὲρ τὴν μεγίστην φθορὰν ὕδασιν ἡ νῦν Ἀθηναίων οὖσα πόλις ἀρίστη πρός τε τὸν πόλεμον καὶ κατὰ πάντα εὐνομωτάτη διαφερόντως· ᾗ κάλλιστα ἔργα καὶ πολιτεῖαι γενέσθαι λέγονται κάλλισται πασῶν ὁπόσων ὑπὸ τὸν οὐρανὸν ἡμεῖς ἀκοὴν παρεδεξάμεθα.

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