The story of Plato's Atlantis begins in the years around 370 BC, during which time Plato was writing the last nine of the ten books of his Republic, a major dialogue in which he depicts his mentor Socrates explaining his constitution for the ideal city to Plato's brothers Glaucon and Adeimantus. This was followed about a decade later by the writing of the Timaeus and Critias, in which Socrates, desiring to see his perfect city in a state of war [Tim. 19c], proposes a thought experiment. Socrates' wish to see his city in action is Critias' command. A suitably grandiose nemesis for this perfect city - identified as an early precursor to Athens - is described: this enemy is Atlantis, an island "larger than Libya and Asia together" located in the Atlantic [Tim. 24e; Crit. 108e] under the command of the corrupted descendants of Poseidon's eldest son Atlas.
"Its subject," replied Critias, "was a very great exploit, worthy indeed to be accounted the most notable of all exploits, which was performed by this city, although the record of it has not endured until now owing to lapse of time and the destruction of those who wrought it." [Tim. 21d].
Critias begins by stating that, remarkably, he has knowledge which has been passed down his family from the time of Solon (an important Athenian lawgiver and statesman who flourished in the period from about 600 to 550 BC), which Solon in turn got during a visit to Egypt from priests in the temple at Saïs. Thus, the story is given an impeccable pedigree.
But how does Plato - or, perhaps more accurately, his character Critias - describe Atlantis?FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF - READ THE BLOODY DIALOGUES!
Exactly as described by Plato? That's a no from me.
The notion of an island almost on the scale of the present-day Russian Federation with mountains which rose higher than any known to the Greeks of Plato's time [Crit. 118b] being swallowed up by the ocean in a matter of hours, with only an impassable shoal standing sentinel to its once having existed does strain credulity somewhat. It is probably more prudent to consider these as exaggerations - such as were common in ancient literature - and try to seek a more prosaic answer. There is no evidence that certain facets of Atlantis were not based upon factual events and places, which Plato drew upon in designing the myth of Atlantis.
In my opinion, perhaps the most viable source for Atlantis lies in sailors' tales gathered from the Greeks' Carthaginian neighbours. Plato spent time in Sicily, which was the site of colonial enterprises of both peoples, on a number of occasions. During the first of these, dating to around 389-387 BC, he struck up what would become an abiding relationship with Dion, a Greek from Syracuse with a keen interest in philosophy who served as an adviser to the tyrant Dionysius the Elder, and who was remembered for his close relations with the Carthaginians. Plato returned to Syracuse in around 367 at Dion's invitation, and the pair collaborated in an abortive attempt to mould Dionysius' son and namesake into Plato's ideal "philosopher king," a concept he developed in his Republic.
It is possible that, whilst sojourning on the island, Plato became party to whispers about Carthaginian discoveries beyond the "Pillars of Heracles" (the Strait of Gibraltar as we know it today), discoveries which were certainly known, however poorly, to the Greeks: a work ascribed to Plato's one-time student Aristotle, De Mirabilibus Auscultatonibus, gives the following brief notice : -
In the sea outside the Pillars of Heracles they say that a desert island was found by the Carthaginians, having woods of all kinds and navigable rivers, remarkable for all other kinds of fruits, and a few days' voyage away; as the Carthaginians frequented it often owing to its prosperity, and some even lived there, the chief of the Carthaginians announced that they would punish with death any who proposed to sail there, and that they massacred all the inhabitants, that they might not tell the story, and that a crowd might not resort to the island, and get possession of it, and take away the prosperity of the Carthaginians.
The source of these rumours may well be the exploratory mission of two Carthaginian brothers, Hanno and Himilco, the latter of whom is said to have established contact with a people called Hierni who dwelt on what the Greek translators render "Holy Island," which is almost certainly Ireland. Himilco's journey, given the probability that it was for the purposes of opening up new trade routes, may also be behind the whispered rumours of the Cassiterides or Tin Islands (whose inhabitants, like the Athenian archons, are reputed to dress in dark clothes) and, ultimately, a tradition ascribed by Proclus Lycaeus to Marcellus regarding Atlantic islands, which shows the influence of both Plato and Himilco's debtors.
Interestingly, Himilco is said to have encountered numerous problems on his journey, which included areas in which the ocean was so shallow as to prevent navigation, a "fact" which became something of a mainstay of Greek descriptions in and around Plato's time.
Thus we have the island and the shoal. The name of the island is specifically derived from that of Plato's Atlas, whose namesake was also regarded early in the Greek age of discovery as giving his name to the vast mountain range in north-western Africa. Furthermore, Herodotus attests to the existence of people groups bearing the names Atlantes and Atarantians in the region. A possible Egyptian connection may be found in the records of Thutmosis III, whose Hymn of Victory includes a mention of the wṯntyw in association with the Tehenu, a Libyan group.
As for the ultimate destruction of the island, that is perhaps based upon events closer to home. The cities of Helice and Bura in Achaea were inundated in 373 BC, as a result of an earthquake, shortly before Plato's Atlantis dialogues were written. The city was destroyed by another earthquake and tsunami, and portents included what appear to be earthquake lights. Strabo writes that this was due to offences against the Ionians associated with the cult of Heliconian Poseidon, whose worship included the use of bulls [8.7.2]: -
Homer recalls this sacrifice when he says: "but he breathed out his spirit and bellowed, as when a dragged bull bellows round the altar of the Heliconian lord." And they infer that the poet lived after the Ionian colonisation, since he mentions the Pan-Ionian sacrifice, which the Ionians perform in honour of the Heliconian Poseidon in the country of the Prienians; for the Prienians themselves are also said to be from Helice; and indeed as king for this sacrifice they appoint a Prienian young man to superintend the sacred rites. But still more they base the supposition in question on what the poet says about the bull; for the Ionians believe that they obtain omens in connection with this sacrifice only when the bull bellows while being sacrificed.
Slobodan Dušanić remarks that Plato too, as a religious man, would have understood these events as being caused by the wrath of the gods. Simultaneous with the inundation of Helice and the nearby settlement of Bura, an earthquake struck the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi, which was the focal point for the Third Sacred War, which was brewing in the 350s. The significance of the destruction of Helice would, thus, not have been lost for Plato, who very likely developed his story of Athens and Atlantis (in part at least) as a warning to his compatriots against waging this war.
It should be noted that Strabo does not mention the precise location of the bull's sacrifice, which is above a stela of orichalcum in the Critias [119ce]. Nor is the sacrifice of a bull especially diagnostic: such practices were widespread in the ancient world. It is, however, tempting to associate this sacrifice to Heliconian Poseidon with the Atlantean princes' troth in the temple complex described by Plato. Furthermore, Strabo cites Eratosthenes, who indicated that "there was a bronze Poseidon in the strait, standing erect, holding a hippocampus in his hand" associated with the submarine ruins of Helice. A statue of Poseidon also features in the Critias [116de], albeit in gold and standing in a chariot with no mention of a hippocampus, instead naming winged horses harnessed to his chariot.
A good question - and one which is normally brushed off with some mumbling about a "moral tale" somehow designed to be edifying to - and instructive for - the Athenians of the "Social War" era in which Plato was putting quill to parchment.
There are, of course, other ideas. Here are five I find to have the most explanatory value: -
The first two theories I wish to investigate centre upon the notion that Plato's Critias is the in-story originator of the story. The first of these is explicit in the text: a thought experiment, the primary goal of which was to depict Plato's ideal city in a state of action. In the Timaeus [19c], Socrates is made to state the following: -
Gladly would I listen to anyone who should depict in words our State contending against others in those struggles which States wage; in how proper a spirit it enters upon war, and how in its warring it exhibits qualities such as befit its education and training in its dealings with each several State whether in respect of military actions or in respect of verbal negotiations.
Tellingly, Socrates himself expresses his inability to carry out this experiment, handing over to Critias (and Hermocrates), which ties this theory in with the next I would like to cover.
Again, as to the class of Sophists, although I esteem them highly versed in many fine discourses of other kinds, yet I fear lest haply, seeing they are a class which roams from city to city and has no settled habitations of its own, they may go wide of the mark in regard to men who are at once philosophers and statesmen, and what they would be likely to do and say, in their several dealings with foemen in war and battle, both by word and deed.
While pointedly removing Critias from this grouping, it soon becomes clear that Critias too is "wide of the mark": though it may be that the text of the Critias, which is incomplete, is wanting, Critias fails to provide a detailed account of the war, instead outlining only the general condition of the Athens of around 9,500 BC and - in much greater detail and with far more relish - that of its fearsome Atlantic enemy. Critias' blustering style bears the hallmark of the speeches of the sophists.
Nonetheless, it would be remiss not to note that Critias, in contrast to the roaming sophists in the quote above, was very much tied to Athens, with limited evidence for his activities elsewhere, albeit, as noted by Xenophon, he did spend rime in Thessaly, ostensibly "establishing a democracy," presumably on the Athenian model.
For the purposes of the final three motives, the identification of Critias as the "author" of the Atlantis myth is temporarily abandoned. In this particular section, the 9,000 year datum is of paramount importance as a means of establishing Athens' great antiquity vis-à-vis Egypt, and the work stems from criticisms of Plato's perceived plagiarism of Egyptian prototypes in his Republic.
In the Saïte priest's speech, during which he shoves all manner of sunshine up the collective Athenian fundament [e.g. Tim. 23de, 24d], there appears to be a great deal of focus on Athens' temporal pre-eminence over his own civilisation: in her guise as Athena, the Saïte goddess Neith founds Athens a millennium before Saïs. Alan Cameron notes much disagreement in the centuries after Plato as to the precise nature of the relationship between Athens and Sais, which Plato notes at Tim. 21e, and cites Proclus Lycaeus, who mentions contemporary jibes about Plato's borrowing his political notions and hierarchical system from the Egyptians. According to Proclus Lycaeus [On the Timaeus of Plato 1.75-76]: -
With respect to the whole of this narration about the Atlantics, some say, that it is a mere history, which was the opinion of Crantor, the first interpreter of Plato, who says, that Plato was derided by those of his time, as not being the inventor of the Republic, but transcribing what the Egyptians had written on this subject; and that he so far regards what is said by these deriders as to refer to the Egyptians this history about the Athenians and Atlantics, and to believe that the Athenians once lived conformably to this polity.
[H]e divided [the Egyptians] into classes: some he appointed to priestly services, others he turned to the arts and crafts, and others he forced to practise the arts of war."
Perhaps even more significantly, Plato's student Aristotle [Politics 7.1329ab] is convinced of the pre-eminence of Egypt with regards to the caste system: -
And that it is proper for the state to be divided up into castes and for the military class to be distinct from that of the tillers of the soil does not seem to be a discovery of political philosophers of today or one made recently. In Egypt this arrangement still exists even now, as also in Crete; it is said to have been established in Egypt by the legislation of Sesostris and in Crete by that of Minos. [...] It is from this country that the system of common meals has its origin, while the division of the citizen-body by hereditary caste came from Egypt, for the reign of Sesostris long antedates that of Minos.
With regards to the fragment highlighted, the translator H. Rackham notes that it is "[p]erhaps to be read as denying the originality of Plato's Republic," which suggests that Proclus' statement that Plato's work being ridiculed as derivative of Egyptian custom was based on real criticisms. Consequently, Plato's timeline for the development of the civilisations of Atlantis and Egypt by Athena-Neith can be read as a response to these criticisms, in that the Saïte priest is made to declare the primacy of Athens [Tim. 24c], whilst admitting similarities between the two systems [Tim. 24ab] and, indeed, the division of the Athenians by Ion into four distinct castes is similar. Herodotus also outlines the elaborate caste structure employed by the Egyptians: -
The Egyptians are divided into seven distinct classes: these are, the priests, the warriors, the cowherds, the swineherds, the tradesmen, the interpreters, and the boatmen. Their titles indicate their occupations. The warriors consist of Hermotybians and Calasirians, who come from different cantons [i.e. nomes], the whole of Egypt being parcelled out into districts bearing this name.
Plato rightly points out that the Athenians too had ancient traditions of class distinctions (indeed, it could be argued that the tetrapartite system of the Athenians represents a closer approximation to Plato's schema than does the Egyptian model), and is ultimately citing Egyptian authority to refute claims that he derived his scheme from the ancient country on the Nile by providing a precedent for the Egyptian caste system located at Athens itself. As such, Plato's riposte to his alleged critics represents a breathtakingly audacious piece of propaganda.
As noted above, Plato's familiarity with the west stemmed from his interest in the political scene in Magna Graeca, and the Sicilian city of Syracuse in particular. During the course of his career, he made several trips to Italy. During the first, as noted above, he befriended Dion, a key figure in Sicilian politics during the following decades. For his part, Plato was disapproving of the dissolute lifestyle of his hosts, which would be a bugbear as his efforts alongside Dion proceeded during the reign of Dionysius' son and namesake Dionysius the Younger.
These endeavours prompted a second journey, which took place in around 367 BC, which formed an attempt to mould Dionysius into a "philosopher king" along the lines formulated and set out in Plato's Republic, which he had likely recently completed. Dion had indicated that his young charge was interested in philosophy, but was often misled by his companions at court. Plato was cynical about Dionysius' commitment and feared the worst, a judgement which proved to be well-founded.
Plato endured many trials in the west on Dion's behalf, and, while their mutual desire to mould Dionysius' character may have been genuine, Dionysius' allies were suspicious of Dion's motives, noting that he had some claim on the rule of the city, and suborned the tyrant. Both men were eventually forced into exile on the Greek mainland, where Dion joined the Academy, becoming close to Plato's nephew and eventual successor Speusippus. He eventually returned to Syracuse with a Zacynthian force - his "guardians" no doubt - but proved to be a poor strategist. Nevertheless, he twice managed to enjoy some measure of power in Syracuse, though his Platonic agenda was poorly received by the populace, who demanded democratic reforms. Dion was eventually assassinated by his Zacynthians in 354 BC at the behest of Calippus (or Callicrates), an Athenian, who was a fellow student of Plato's. He was no more successful a "philosopher king" than Dion and met the same end thirteen months into his rule.
Dionysius, meanwhile, had sought refuge on the mainland, tellingly in Timaeus' home city of Locri Epizephyrii (also the birthplace of his mother Doris), where he became tyrant for a decade. The reaction of the Locrians is best summed up by the following description by Schlomo Berger: -
Upon his departure, [...] the local population revolted. They destroyed the citadel, reintroduced eleutheria and captured Dionysius' wife and children whom they tortured and later executed. The pleas of Dionysius [...] to spare their lives fell on deaf ears.
During the events of Dion's rises and falls from power, Plato was back in Athens, writing his Timaeus, Critias and later his Laws. The weakness of any constitution which invests power in one man, in this case Dionysius, were by then self-evident, as the condition of the city was dependent upon the character of the leader. In Dionysius' case, this character was found wanting. He was a lover of luxury, capricious, and only superficially interested in philosophical learning. The same yardstick could be applied to the archons of the people of Atlantis: once the inherited higher nature began to wane, these began to exhibit the same traits as Dionysius. It is surely no accident that the two dialogues feature characters from both Syracuse in the form of Hermocrates, the spiritual father of the tyranny there, and the city Dionysius imposed his terror upon once ousted from Syracuse.
It is also telling that, in the Laws, Plato outlined a new - though, significantly, still only "second-best" [5.739a] - city constitution. Perhaps this was intended to be more practical in the real world than the purely theoretical Kallipolis of the Republic, whose true existence would only be possible in the higher world of Forms.
Atlantis would then be a bitterly-disappointed old man's excoriation of people, places and events which had for him, at one time, held such high promise.
This fourth motive stems from ideas expressed by Plato in his Republic and again later in his Laws: the "Noble Lie." The scholar Kathryn Morgan has done detailed work on this. I shall quote from the Republic [3.414bc]: -
"How, then," said I, "might we contrive one of those opportune falsehoods of which we were just now speaking, so as by one noble lie to persuade if possible the rulers themselves, but failing that the rest of the city?" "What kind of a fiction do you mean?" said he. "Nothing unprecedented," said I, "but a sort of Phoenician tale, something that has happened ere now in many parts of the world, as the poets aver and have induced men to believe, but that has not happened and perhaps would not be likely to happen in our day and demanding no little persuasion to make it believable."
The "Phoenician tale" referred to here is almost certainly the myth of Cadmus, as suggested in the Laws [2.663e-664a]: -
Athenian: Be it so; yet it proved easy to persuade men of the Sidonian fairy-tale [...] of the teeth that were sown, and how armed men sprang out of them. Here, indeed, the lawgiver has a notable example of how one can, if he tries, persuade the souls of the young of anything, so that the only question he has to consider in his inventing is what would do most good to the State, if it were believed; and then he must devise all possible means to ensure that the whole of the community constantly, so long as they live, use exactly the same language, so far as possible, about these matters, alike in their songs, their tales, and their discourses. If you, however, think otherwise, I have no objection to your arguing in the opposite sense.
In the Republic, he introduces a caste system (the one claimed as being a knock-off of the Egyptian system), along these lines: the ideal state is governed by phylakes ("rulers" or "guardians"), defended and administered by a warrior caste termed epikouroi ("auxillairies") and, under these and separated from them, are the polloi, the common people, broken down into husbandmen and artisans (two of the four classes which Strabo [8.7.1] credits Ion with having created), as well as merchants. Basing this schema on myths such as that of Cadmus and the spartoi (his exemplar of the "Noble Lie") and Hesiod's five ages (gold, silver, bronze, heroic and iron [8.547a]), Plato suggests that those born with souls of gold are to serve as the philosopher aristocracy, whilst silver souls are given to those whose calling is warfare. The possibility of meritocratic movement between the classes based on the specific abilities of an individual - both upwards and downwards - is mooted [3.415c]. The city's working class possess souls of brass and iron.
The tale told by Critias is an extension of this argument, which depicts this ideal city in war against a powerful enemy. That enemy is Atlantis. Thus, for the purposes of this myth, Atlantis is the "Noble Lie."
Lastly, we must consider the most obvious - and most commonly cited - reason for Atlantis to "exist": Plato was seeking to caution his fellow Athenians as to the wages of tyranny. This is often given by experts as a hand-wave as part of a dismissal of those promoting the reality of Atlantis, and with some reason. For instance, Pierre Vidal-Nacquet has argued persuasively that many aspects of Plato's Atlantis find their real life counterparts in democratic Athens. Though is it all it's cracked up to be?
To my mind, when considering whether or not Plato wrote the myth of Atlantis in the Timaeus-Critias as a word of warning to the Athenians of the 360s, one must ask why he would need to concoct a fable from times so distant when a perfectly good example of an overbearing regime getting its comeuppance took place within Plato's and many of his contemporaries' lifetimes - and in Athens itself to boot.
The Delian League was founded in 478 BC with the purpose of facilitating Greek efforts to keep the Perians out in the wake of the defeat of the second Persian invasion of the Greek mainland the previous year. It was envisaged as an amphictyony centred upon the time-honoured temple of Apollo on the island of Delos, but, given Athens' ambitions (yes, my dear western sheeple, even "democracies" can be high-handed and imperialistic), it developed into something of an Athenian Empire, prompting attempts at secession by states such as Naxos (in about 471 BC) and Thasos (in 465 BC), wary of having traded the threat of a "barbarian" master for a Hellenic one. Both states were punished by the removal of fortifications and fleets, as well as a loss of voting rights in the League.
Athenian hegemony over their "partners" was cemented in 454 BC, when the pantomime of the centrality of the Delian sanctuary - and what remained of the pretence of equality - was ended and the League's treasury transferred to Athens. The subject states were burdened with demands for tribute, which only increased as the democratic Athenians persisted in a policy of "forever war," baiting the Spartans and kicking off the Peloponnesian Wars, which resulted in Athenian defeat in 404 BC and the dissolution of the League.
Thus, while starting with noble aims, and suitably featuring Athens as the leader of the Hellenes - echoing Plato's characterisation of his home state in the dialogues - the Delian League/Athenian Empire soon expanded its control over the Aegean islands and the "opposite continent" of western Anatolia (cf. Tim. 25a) in the manner of the Atlanteans, and - in the same vein - continued to deteriorate in character, until the Spartans (still led by their nobility, so a plus from Plato) put an end to these shenanigans.
This seems an overelaborate attempt to get people to listen, people who either remembered the end of the first Athenian Empire or people whose parents remembered it and, as is always the case with the next generation, knew better than their forebears and would do the same things again, only better this time. No, far more likely to my mind is that Plato, in having Critias tell the tale, is indeed pointing to the end of the Delian League, but not necessarily as the handwaving academics would have us lesser mortals believe. Remember, it was none other than Critias who came to the fore in the post-Delian, Spartan-imposed oligarchy. He had his chance to install a better government than what had preceded it and failed, ephemerally and spectacularly. In having Critias relate the tale in the unsatisfactory manner in which he does, Plato is perhaps pointing out that such men who would grapple the reigns of power out of the hands of the demagogues and strategoi may promise to improve matters, but very rarely do they succeed.
Despite his idealised state of Athens in the Timaeus-Critias and its forerunner in the Republic, Plato, it seems, was keenly aware of the flaws in human nature when power is presented on a silver platter.
One of the most mystifying elements of the myth to modern readers is the destruction of the Athenian forces along with their Atlantean counterparts. While, in the case of the former, this is explained as the result of their growing wickedness coupled with a signal failure to mend their ways, the Athenians appear to be blameless. Slobodan Dušanić reminds the reader that similarly innocent Delphi was damaged by the earthquake which led to the destruction of the impious Helice and Bura, an event whose significance, Dušanić argues, was not lost on Plato, and is a likely prompt for his notion of Atlantis.
It is also germane to note Susan O. Shapiro's reappraisal of Herodotus' treatment of Solon, wherein she argues that the myth of Tellus of Athens [1.30-31], which Herodotus has Solon relate to Croesus the Lydian, represents Herodotus' own opinions of the good fortune of meeting one's end at the time of one's akme. Tellus, according to Herodotus, lived a virtuous life, becoming prosperous, living to see his children grow, and gaining glory in his death in battle at Eleusis against Athens' neighbours.
Shapiro contrasts the tale of Tellus with what Herodotus recounts about a variety of other figures, including Militiades, the victor at Marathon [6.132-136]. Unlike Tellus, Miltiades survived the battle and, his stock having understandably risen, he undertakes a deceptive and hybristic campaign against the inhabitants of Paros to avenge a personal grudge and seek plunder. He ends up mortally wounded after committing an act of sacrilege and is subsequently fined for his iniquity, a fine which is eventually paid by his son Cimon after Miltiades' demise.
Thus, as well as providing a critique of democracy, in that a popular figure can pursue his own ends unhindered by checks and balances, a comparison of Tellus and Miltiades shows a contrast between Tellus - who, in Plato, represents the Ur-Athenians - who dies at the high point of his career, and the prideful Miltiades - who, like the Atlanteans, was rightly revered for his previous glorious deeds and achievements, only to overreach himself and suffer an ignominious end. The demise of the ancient Athenian guardians, at the time of their greatest victory in vanquishing the might of Atlantis, is thus the ideal death in Herodotus' thought, voiced by Solon, a notion followed also by Plato.
An alleged complete finale to the Critias appeared in 2004, which, as it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the dialogue as we have it, was nothing more than a blatant fraud, and reads more like a combination of New Age hogwash and bad science-fiction. As to the provenance of the text, the source, writing for the defunct website Pandora's Files, says this: "I cannot verify of course the originality of the text, but it is certain that it was saved by some Basques who gave the text to a Greek writer named A. Keramidas, that will publish his book in Germany." Since then, I can find no evidence for the publication of Keramidas' book and, on the whole, this particular (brown) nugget fails the sniff test: it's not gold, people.
Another hoax, attributed to a Eumalos of Cyrene, appeared in the 19th century, purporting to summarise the history of Atlantis, conveniently located in the region of modern Malta, an identification seized upon by researchers who imagine Atlantis was in and around this archipelago. The "Eumalos" in this instance was a nom de plume of the Marquis de Fortia d’Urban, writing in 1827-1828.
Similarly, a work allegedly by one Diodorus of Alexandria (whoe'er the deuce *he* was supposed to be) based on the account of his namesake Diodorus Siculus of the war between the Atlanteans and Amazons, which detailed the career of an Atlantean by the name of Azor, who was taken captive by the Amazons, was at one time doing the rounds on the Internet. However, the chances of this having anything to do with Diodorus is nonexistent: it is nothing more than a modern soft porn fanfiction with a decided penchant for a spot of BDSM.
On a more elegant note, George Sarantitis, a Greek who claims to have developed a uniquely accurate translation of the texts, suggests that the Critias was "unfinished" by design, and that Plato intended the reader to be directed to Zeus' statement in the Odyssey [1.32-34]: -
How surprising that men blame the gods, and say their troubles come from us, though they, through their own un-wisdom, find suffering beyond what is fated.
Though the rest of Sarantitis' ideas are, shall we say, more open to a hearty critique, this particular notion is certainly tempting, and goes some way to reiterate Plato's reliance on the writers who preceded him.