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A Brief History of Atlantis: Plato's Ideal State

Stephen P. Kershaw

2 Reviews

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Brief Histories, Ancient Greece, Prose: non-fiction, Classical history / classical civilisation, Philosophy, History of Western philosophy

A new translation of two of Plato's dialogues, Timaios and Kritias, with commentary and critical discussion including an exploration of how the tale of Atlantis has been interpreted throughout history.

The Atlantis story remains one of the most haunting and enigmatic tales from antiquity, and one that still resonates very deeply with the modern imagination. But where did Atlantis come from, what was it like, and where did it go to?

Atlantis was first introduced by the Greek philosopher Plato in two dialogues the Timaios and Kritias, written in the fourth century BC. As he philosophises about the origins of life, the Universe and humanity, the great thinker puts forward a stunning description of Atlantis, an island paradise with an ideal society. But the Atlanteans degenerate and become imperialist aggressors: they fight against antediluvian Athens, which heroically repels their mighty forces, before a cataclysmic natural disaster destroys the warring states.

His tale of a great empire that sank beneath the waves has sparked thousands of years of debate over whether Atlantis really existed. But did Plato mean his tale as history, or just as a parable to help illustrate his philosophy?

The book is broken down into two main sections plus a coda - firstly the translations/commentaries which will have the discussions of the specifics of the actual texts; secondly a look at the reception of the myth from then to now; thirdly a brief round-off bringing it all together.

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Praise for A Brief History of Atlantis: Plato's Ideal State

  • Praise for A Brief Guide to the Greek Myths

  • Eminently sane, highly informative, and reasonably priced

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Stephen P. Kershaw

DR STEPHEN P KERSHAW has spent a great deal of time in the world of the Ancient Greeks, both intellectually and physically. He has been a Classics tutor for some thirty years, teaching at all levels from beginner to PhD, currently operating out of the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, authoring and teaching undergraduate courses, and tutoring on the Masters in Literature
and Art. Steve has also created Oxford University's online courses on Greek Mythology, The Fall of Rome and The Minoans and Mycenaeans. He lectures at the Victoria and Albert Museum and, as
Professor of History of Art, runs the European Studies Classical Tour for Rhodes College and the University of the South. In addition to titles published by Robinson, A Brief Guide to the Greek Myths, A Brief History of the Roman Empire and A Brief History of Atlantis, he has edited The Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology. Steve was an expert contributor to the History Channel's Barbarians Rising series; former students include the Princess of Jordan; he translated the Greek inscription on Matthew Pinsent's fourth Olympic gold medal for him after his victory in Athens; and he is a guest speaker for Swan Hellenic Cruises and the Royal Academy (through Cox & Kings). He lives in the Oxfordshire village of Deddington with his wife, the artist Lal Jones.