Platos Natural Philosophy: A Study of the Timaeus-Critias

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The Timaeus-Critias as a re-weaving of the peplos presented to Athena? | Classical Inquiries

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According to Gregory Nagy, the speeches Plato crafts in the Timaeus-Critias constitute a re-weaving of the peplos, and the offering of it as a hymn to Athena constitutes a challenge to the charter myth of Athens. Moreover, the performance of the speeches is a replacement for the rhapsodic performance of the Iliad and the Odyssey, which were recited exclusively during the Greater Panathenaic festival. If so, how could I have missed it? It is the term that the Presocratics used to characterize their method of inquiry.

Consequently, he abandoned the Presocratic approach and introduced the hypothesis that there are Forms and Forms are causes, as the second-best approach to investigating causes a—e. This introduced the notion of Platonic Forms as intelligible causes that explain the features that sensibles possess, a view which can also be found in the Republic b7—c1, c6—d2, b8—c7 et al.

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Thus, could the Timaeus-Critias be the playing the role that Nagy suggests given that there is a long speech concerning natural philosophy? The first passage is 27a—b. So, there is no problem with the performing of speeches as such.


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The second passage is 24b7—c2. It is the Athenians who are older and more sophisticated than the Egyptians, and it is Solon who legitimizes the speech of Critias.

Plato's Natural Philosophy: A Study of the Timaeus-Critias

Immediately after this passage, the priest goes on to say that the way things are organized in Egypt is the way the goddess arranged them for the ancient Athenians. A few examples will suffice. There is a divine Craftsman who looks to an eternal model for the construction of the universe 29a—31a , there is a world soul that instantiates intelligence into the universe 34b10—36d7 , there is a tri-partite physiology that matches the tri-partite psychology 41d4—47e3, 69c6—72d10 , and there is a treatment of disease and well-being 81e6—90d7.


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This is surely no coincidence. Let us turn to the second interpretive problem.


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