One of the strongest and most compelling messages in Plato’s dialogues, Timaeus and Critias, was about human nature. He uses his former teacher Socrates as the pivotal character in his dialogues, to question the students on many facets of life. In a way, Socrates is the moral compass in the story by which his words of wisdom seek to provoke and elicit thoughtful responses. This oratorical strategy no doubt would have compelled and evoked passionate discussions, which could also be the reason why Plato did not finish the dialogue of Critias.
There’s a fabulous passage in Critias with regards to the Atlanteans, which would fit in with current world issues:
For many generations, as long as the divine nature lasted in them, they were obedient to the laws, and well-affectioned towards the god… they possessed true and in every way great spirits, uniting gentleness with wisdom in the various chances of life…
…but when the divine portion began to fade away, and became diluted too often and too much with the mortal admixture, and the human nature got the upper hand, they then, being unable to bear their fortune, behaved unseemly… grew visibly debased…
The Atlanteans were made in the image of the gods, much like the Golden Age of Man however, unlike those in the Golden Age, the Atlanteans were not idle and were intelligent. They had fortitude, a healthy respect for the environment and animals, and of course venerated the gods. With this approach to life, they prospered and lived well.
It’s the next line which I feel says it all and reflects what is happening in the world today.
“…when the divine portion began to fade away”
I see this as turning away from belief and changing the meaning to suit one’s own political agenda and using religion as a ploy.
The Atlanteans forgot who their progenitor was, mixed with mortals and saw a different way of living. They craved what others had and saw how different their lives could be if they changed the way they think and behave. They too, could be powerful and rich, regardless of how they attain it. We don’t have to look far to see how people change the meaning and context of something to suit their purpose or agenda.
“…human nature got the upper hand”
Here we have is the classic power-trip, driven by greed, possession and domination. The Altanteans became corrupted and turned away from all they believed in: virtue, kindness, and astuteness. The adverse elements have been repeated throughout history, via various individuals and groups of people who are driven by their perverted philosophy, debased behaviour and desire for control.
I believe Plato’s reason for telling the story of Atlantis was one of caution. If people continue to behave in a contrary manner, and seek to hurt others to attain their desires, then they shall be destroyed. The Atlanteans became obsessed with wealth and domination and were punished for it. Unhealthy obsession cannot end well, even though it may appear to be strong and succeeding. Therefore, in light of Plato’s teachings, a disastrous outcome for these malefic people is their destiny.
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As always, your comments are valued and welcomed.
Historical fiction fantasist Luciana Cavallaro, a secondary teacher, meanders from contemporary life to delve into the realms of mythology. Subscribe to her FREE short story http://eepurl.com/bhESs1