© 1999 Bernard SUZANNE Last updated June 26, 1999
Plato and his dialogues : Home - Biography - Works and links to them - History of interpretation - New hypotheses - Map of dialogues : table version or non tabular version. Tools : Index of persons and locations - Detailed and synoptic chronologies - Maps of Ancient Greek World. Site information : About the author.

Frequently Asked Questions
about Plato


Plato and Atlantis

I have received several questions like the following ones :

"I have heard so much about Atlantis and the link with Plato and I would like very much to read it for myself. Could you tell me how I could read his writings on that topic first hand ?"

or

"I must admid I don`t know anything about Plato but I heard he wrote about Atlantis. Where can I find information about the writings on that topic or which books should I read ?"

The story of Atlantis is indeed a creation of Plato and can be found in his dialogues called the Timæus (in the introductory part of this dialogue, before Timæus starts his "myth" about the origins of the universe) and the Critias (which is a continuation of the Timæus, developing what was summarized at the beginning of this dialogue, and which stops abruptly in the middle of a phrase, as if left unfinished). These dialogues are available online and you can find links to them through my page of links to Plato's dialogues. There are no other known sources prior to Plato mentioning an island of Atlantis and all sources later than Plato on the topic depend on him. If you want to know what I think of this tale of Atlantis, you can also read the pages that are pointed at by the page of my site on the Critias and also the page on Atlas and Atlantis.

The fact is, to me, this tale is a creation of Plato for a very specific purpose, which had nothing to do with geography or history, at least not directly. It is, in my opinion, a myth he manufactured from A to Z for philosophical purposes, to fit a specific purpose in a specific place of his construct of the dialogues as I read them, not to send people over the centuries seeking for a lost continent !... More ! I believe that he purposedly left the story unfinished as a "trial", a "test" of the reader's judgment at the end of the dialogues (the Greek word for "trial, judgment" is "krisis", which is at the root of the name "Kritias", the Greek form of "Critias"). He wanted to "sort out" the readers who would spend the rest of their life looking for the lost Atlantis from those who would be glad Critias' infamous myth pretending to bring to life the ideal of the Republic has been shut in the middle to let them move to the real accomplishment of this ideal throught the Laws, a good example of the task that awaits us, and that we must "transpose" in our time and place, in our own terms...

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Plato and his dialogues : Home - Biography - Works and links to them - History of interpretation - New hypotheses - Map of dialogues : table version or non tabular version. Tools : Index of persons and locations - Detailed and synoptic chronologies - Maps of Ancient Greek World. Site information : About the author.

First published June 26, 1999 - Last updated June 26, 1999
© 1999 Bernard SUZANNE (click on name to send your comments via e-mail)
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