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This page presents quotations from the Middle Platonist Plutarch of Chaeronaea which are referenced in the Atlantis section of this website.



10-1Witness to this also are the wisest of the Greeks: eSolon, Thales, Plato, Eudoxus, Pythagoras, who came to Egypt and consorted with the priests; and in this number some would include Lycurgus also. Eudoxus, they say, received instruction from Chonuphis of Memphis, Solon from Sonchis of Saïs, and Pythagoras from Oenuphis of Heliopolis. Pythagoras, it seems, fwas greatly admired, and he also greatly admired the Egyptian priests, and, copying their symbolism and occult teachings, incorporated his doctrines in enigmas. As a matter of fact most of the Pythagorean precepts do not at all fall short of the writings that are called hieroglyphs; such, for example, as these: "Do not eat upon a stool"; "Do not sit upon a peck measure"; "Do not lop off the shoots of a palm-tree"; "Do not poke a fire with a sword within the house."


22Moreover, he said, there were certain lakes that lay parallel and equidistant one from the other, the one of boiling gold, another of lead, exceeding cold, and the third of iron, which was very scaly and rugged. By the sides of these lakes stood certain Daemons, that with their instruments, like smiths or founders, put in or drew out the souls of such as had transgressed either through avarice or an eager desire of other men's goods. For the flame of the golden furnace having rendered these souls of a fiery [p. 187] and transparent color, they plunged them into that of lead; where after they were congealed and hardened into a substance like hail, they were then thrown into the lake of iron, where they became black and deformed, and being broken and crumbled by the roughness of the iron, changed their form; and being thus transformed, they were again thrown into the lake of gold; in all these transmutations enduring most dreadful and horrid torments. But they that suffered the most dire and dismal torture of all were those who, thinking that divine vengeance had no more to say to them, were again seized and dragged to repeated execution; and these were those for whose transgression their children or posterity had suffered. For when any of the souls of those children come hither and meet with any of their parents or ancestors, they fall into a passion, exclaim against them, and show them the marks of what they have endured. On the other side, the souls of the parents endeavor to sneak out of sight and hide themselves; but the others follow them so close at the heels, and load them in such a manner with bitter taunts and reproaches, that not being able to escape, their tormentors presently lay hold of them, and hale them to new tortures, howling and yelling at the very thought of what they have suffered already. And some of these souls of suffering posterity, he said, there were, that swarmed and clung together like bees or bats, and in that posture murmured forth their angry complaints of the miseries and calamities which they had endured for their sakes.


25.1Desiring still further to enlarge the city, he invited all men thither on equal terms, and the phrase "Come hither all ye people," they say was a proclamation of Theseus when he established a people, as it were, of all sorts and conditions. However, he did not suffer his democracy to become disordered or confused from an indiscriminate multitude streaming into it, but was the first to separate the people into noblemen and husbandmen and handicraftsmen. 2To the noblemen he committed the care of religious rites, the supply of magistrates, the teaching of the laws, and the interpretation of the will of Heaven, and for the rest of the citizens he established a balance of privilege, the noblemen being thought to excel in dignity, the husbandmen in usefulness, and the handicraftsmen in numbers.


8.3Suiting the deed to the word, he distributed the rest of the Laconian land among the "perioeci," or free provincials, in thirty thousand lots, and that which belonged to the city of Sparta, in nine thousand lots, to as many genuine Spartans. But some say that Lycurgus distributed only six thousand lots among the Spartans, and that three thousand were afterwards added by Polydorus; others still, that Polydorus added half of the nine thousand to the half distributed by Lycurgus.


23.4Now the Athenians were from of old great enemies of wolves, since their country was better for pasturage than for tillage. And there are those who say that their four tribes were originally named, not from the sons of Ion, but from the classes into which the occupations were divided; thus the warriors were called Hoplitai, the craftsmen Ergadeis; and of the remaining two, the farmers were called Geleontes, the shepherds and herdsmen Aigikoreis.

26.1In the first place, then, he went to Egypt, and lived, as he himself says: "Where Nile pours forth his floods, near the Canobic shore." He also spent some time in studies with Psenophis of Heliopolis and Sonchis of Saïs, who were very learned priests. From these, as Plato says, he heard the story of the lost Atlantis, and tried to introduce it in a poetical form to the Greeks. 2Next he sailed to Cyprus, and was greatly beloved of Philocyprus, one of the kings of the island. This prince had a small city, founded by Demophon, the son of Theseus, and lying near the river Clarius, in a position which was strong, but otherwise incommodious and sorry.

27.1As for his interview with Croesus, some think to prove by chronology that it is fictitious. But when a story is so famous and so well-attested, and, what is more to the point, when it comports so well with the character of Solon, and is so worthy of his magnanimity and wisdom, I do not propose to reject it out of deference to any chronological canons, so called, which thousands are to this day revising, without being able to bring their contradictions into any general agreement.


1.3Indeed, he often lapses unawares into the manner of Xenarchus, as, for instance, when he says he thinks it was a bad omen for the Athenians that Nicias, whose name was derived from victory, declined at first to head their expedition; also that, by the mutilation of the "Hermae," Heaven indicated to them in advance that by the hands of Hermocrates the son of Hermon they were to suffer most of their reverses during the war; and, further, that it was fitting that Heracles should aid the Syracusans, for the sake of their goddess Cora, who delivered Cerberus into his hands, but should be angry with the Athenians, because they were trying to succour the Egestaeans, although they were descendants of the Trojans, whose city he had once destroyed because of wrong done him by Laomedon their king.


3.1Dionysius the Elder, after assuming the reins of government, at once married the daughter of Hermocrates the Syracusan. 2But she, since the tyranny was not yet securely established, was terribly and outrageously abused in her person by the seditious Syracusans, and in consequence put an end to her own life. 3Then Dionysius, after resuming the power and making himself strong again, married two wives at once, one from Locri, whose name was Doris, the other a native of the city, Aristomache, daughter of Hipparinus, who was a leading man in Syracuse, and had been a colleague of Dionysius when he was first chosen general with full powers for the war.

4.3But though Dion was even before of a lofty character, magnanimous, and manly, he advanced still more in these high qualities when, by some divine good fortune, Plato came to Sicily. 4This was not of man's devising, but some heavenly power, as it would seem, laying far in advance of the time a foundation for the liberty of Syracuse, and devising a subversion of tyranny, brought Plato from Italy to Syracuse and made Dion his disciple.

11.1Since Dion frequently gave him such advice, and artfully mingled with it some of Plato's doctrines, Dionysius was seized with a keen and even frenzied passion for the teachings and companionship of Plato. 2At once, then, many letters began to come to Athens from Dionysius, and many injunctions from Dion, as well as others from the Pythagorean philosophers of Italy, all of whom urged Plato to come and get control of a youthful soul now tossed about on a sea of great authority and power, and steady it by his weighty reasonings.

4But the enemies of Dion, afraid of the alteration in Dionysius, persuaded him to recall from exile Philistus, a man versed in letters and acquainted with the ways of tyrants, that they might have in him a counterpoise to Plato and philosophy.

14.4As a consequence of all this, Dionysius became at first suspicious, and afterwards more openly angry and hostile, and just then a certain letter was secretly brought to him, which Dion had written to the Carthaginian officials, urging them, whenever they should treat with Dionysius for peace, not to hold their interview without including him, since he would help them to arrange everything securely. 5This letter Dionysius read to Philistus, and after consulting with him, according to Timaeus, he beguiled Dion by a feigned reconciliation. 6That is, after moderate protestations and a declaration that their quarrel was at an end, he led him off alone beneath the acropolis down to the sea, and then showed him the letter and accused him of conspiring with the Carthaginians against him. 7And when Dion wished to defend himself, he would not suffer it, but at once placed him, just as he was, on board a small boat, and commanded the sailors in it to set him ashore in Italy.

17.1This Plato tried to effect, and kept Dion with him in the Academy, where he turned his attention to philosophy. 2Dion dwelt in the upper city of Athens with Callippus, one of his acquaintances, but for diversion he bought a country-place, and afterwards, when he sailed to Sicily, he gave this to Speusippus, 3who was his most intimate friend at Athens.

22.4Encouraged by this information from Speusippus, Dion collected mercenaries secretly and by the agency of others, concealing his purpose. 5He was assisted also by many statesmen and philosophers, such as Eudemus the Cyprian, on whose death Aristotle wrote his dialogue On the Soul, and Timonides the Leucadian. 6Furthermore, they enlisted on his side Miltas the Thessalian also, who was a seer and had studied in the Academy. But of those who had been banished by the tyrant, and there were not less than a thousand of them, only twenty-five took part in the expedition; the rest played the coward and abandoned it. 7The rendezvous was the island of Zacynthus, and here the soldiers were assembled. 8They numbered fewer than eight hundred, but they were all well known in consequence of many great campaigns, their bodies were exceptionally well trained, while in experience and daring they had no equals in the world, and were capable of inciting and inflaming to share their prowess all the host which Dion expected to have in Sicily.

57.1Many had conspired to do the deed, and as Dion was sitting with his friends in an apartment containing couches for entertainment, some of the conspirators invested the house outside, while others stood at the doors and windows of the apartment. 2The actual assassins, who were Zacynthians, came in unarmed and without their cloaks. Then at the same time those outside closed the doors and held them fast, while those inside fell upon Dion and tried to strangle and crush him. 3They made no headway, however, and called for a sword; but no one ventured to open the door. For Dion's companions inside were many in number; but each of them thought that by abandoning Dion to his fate he would save his own life, and so no one ventured to help him. 4After some delay, Lycon the Syracusan handed through the window to one of the Zacynthians a shortsword, and with this they cut Dion's throat as if he had been a victim at the altar; he had long since been overpowered and was quivering before the stroke. 5At once, too, they cast his sister into prison, together with his wife, who was big with child. His wife had a most wretched confinement, and gave birth in the prison to a male child, which the women ventured to rear, with the consent of their guards, and all the more because Callippus was already involved in great trouble.

58.1At the outset, indeed, after he had killed Dion, Callippus was a glorious personage, and had Syracuse in his power. He actually wrote a letter to the city of Athens, which, next to the gods, he ought to have held in awe and fear after setting his hands to so great a pollution. 2But it appears to be truly said of that city that the good men whom she breeds are of the highest excellence, and the bad men of the most despicable baseness, just as her soil produces sweetest honey and deadliest hemlock. 3However, Callippus did not long remain a scandal to fortune and the gods, as though they had no eyes for a man who won leadership and power by so great an impiety, but speedily paid a fitting penalty. 4For on setting out to take Catana, he at once lost Syracuse; at which time, as they say, he remarked that he had lost a city and got a cheese-grater. 5Then he attacked Messana and lost most of his soldiers, among whom were the murderers of Dion; and since no city in Sicily would receive him, but all hated and spurned him, he took possession of Rhegium. 6But there, being in straitened circumstances and unable to support his mercenaries properly, he was put to death by Leptines and Polyperchon, who, as fortune would have it, used the shortsword with which Dion also was said to have been smitten. 7And it was known by its size, which was short, after the Spartan fashion, and by the style of its workmanship, being delicately and cunningly wrought. Such, then, was the penalty which Callippus paid.

Sir Graham