Plato’s Text (L)
Plato’s Text has reached us through a rather circuitous route. Wikipedia notes that ‘the scholastic philosophers of the Middle Ages did not have access to the works of Plato – nor the Greek to read them. Plato’s original writings were essentially lost to Western civilisation until they were brought from Constantinople in the century before its fall.’ Today there are only seven manuscripts of Plato’s work extant, the earliest of which dates to 895 AD and is now in Oxford(c). It is unfortunate that the earliest versions of Plato’s work available to us are only Latin translations of an early original Greek text. Chalcidius undertook the first translation of Timaeus from Greek to Latin in the 3rd century AD. He translated the first 70% of the text from earlier Greek versions, now lost. The earliest translation of Plato’s complete works into Latin was by Marsilio Ficino in the late 15th century. Janus Cornarius provides us with a Latin translation from earlier Greek sources, apparently different from those used by Ficino. A comparison of the Chalcidius and Ficino translations shows considerable divergences. The Ficino Latin text was in turn translated back into Greek at the Aldina Academy in Venice in the 16th century.
Diaz-Montexano has written, in his hallmark poor English, a short criticism(a) of the quality of medieval translations of Plato’s Timaeus and Critiasthat are the basis of the vernacular versions available today.
There are legitimate questions that can be raised regarding the accuracy of the text used by researchers and since some theories relating to Atlantis are often dependant on the precise meaning of particular words, this lack of an original text, leaves some doubt over the persuasiveness of individual hypotheses.
Many quotations from Plato’s text will have alphanumeric references, which are derived from the 1578 edition of Plato’s works by the 16th century French scholar and printer, Henricus Stephanus, which show his page numbers, and the letters a-e, equally spaced down the margin of each page. Although they bear no relationship to the natural breaks in the debate or narrative, the majority of editions and translations now include them.
All of Plato’s Dialogues are to be found on many sites on the Internet. However, we can highly recommend the Perseus website(b) where the works of most ancient authors can be found there in both English and their original languages. It has a number of valuable search tools for both the novice and seasoned student of Atlantology.
(a) http://www.antiquos.com/La-Atlantida-de-Platon/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=65 (link broken 14/6/16)