An A-Z Guide To The Search For Plato's Atlantis

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Timaeus (Dialogue)

Timaeus is the title of one of the two Atlantis Dialogues of Plato, named after one of the participants. In it we encounter the first clear reference to Atlantis. The dialogue is usually seen as a continuation of The Republic.  The first Latin translation of Timaeus comes from Cicero in the first century BC(b), but unfortunately from the point of view of Atlantology, he only translated 27d-47b, just missing the Atlantis passages. One of the most influential Latin translations came from Chalcidius in the 4th century AD. However, it fell to the 15th century Marsilio Ficino to produce the first translation of Plato’s complete works(c).

Some claim that Timaeus is the only character used by Plato that does not appear to have actually existed in ancient Greece. However, it is more generally accepted that the Timaeus in the Dialogues was based on a real astronomer and mathematician known as Timaeus of Locri, who was a Pythagorean philosopher who formed his own Pythagorean School in Locri in Southern Italy when the School in Croton was forced to close. Timaeus is said to have been around 70 at the time that the Dialogues were written.

What is at issue is the actual authorship of Plato’s Timaeus, such as by Hermippus of Smyrna (3rd cent. BC) who claimed that Plato copied his text from the philosopher Philolaus. This suggestion has been debated until modern times(a).

(a) https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/philolaus/

(b) See: https://atlantipedia.ie/samples/archive-2559/

(c) See: https://atlantipedia.ie/samples/archive-2560/