The Timaeus of Plato (1888) PDF book

The Timaeus of Plato

The Timaeus of Plato
The Timaeus of Plato - translated by R. D.  Archer-Hind



From the introduction:

The Timaeus. Nor is the reason of this comparative neglect far ance to seek. The exceeding abstruseness of its metaphysical content rendered yet more recondite by the constantly allegorical mode Timaeus of exposition; the abundance of a priori speculation in a domain which experimental science has now claimed for its own; the vast ties. and many-sided comprehensiveness of the design all has conspired to the end that only a very few of the most zealous students of Plato's philosophy have left us any considerable work on this dialogue.


 It has been put on one side as a fantastic, if ingenious and poetical, cosmogonical scheme, mingled with oracular fragments of mystical metaphysic and the crude imaginings of scarcely yet infant science. But this was not the position assigned to the Timaeus by the more ancient thinkers, who lived 'nearer to the king and the truth.'


Contrariwise not one of Plato's writings exercised so powerful an influence on subsequent Greek thought; not one was the object of such earnest study, such constant reference. Aristotle criticises it more frequently and copiously than any other dialogue, and perhaps from no other has borrowed so much: 

Cicero, living amid a very stupor and paralysis of speculative philosophy, was moved to translate it into Latin: Apuleius gives for an account of the Platonic philosophy little else but a partial abstract of the Timaeus, with some ethical supplement from the Republic: Plutarch has sundry more or less elaborate disquisitions on several of the subjects handled in it. 

The present appears to be the first English edition of the Timaeus. Indeed since the sixteenth century, during which this dialogue was published separately no less than four times, it had not, so far as I am aware, been issued apart from the rest of Plato's works until the appearance of Lindau's edition, accompanied by a Latin translation, in 1828. Lindau's commentary, though here and there suggestive, does not afford much real help in grappling with the main difficulties of the dialogue; and sometimes displays a fundamental misapprehension of its significance. 

As for the Neoplatonic school, how completely their thought was dominated by the metaphysic of the Timaeus, despite the incongruous and almost

Ten years later came Stallbaum's edition; concerning which it was unbecoming to speak with less than the respect due to the zeal and industry of a scholar who has essayed the gigantic enterprise of editing with elaborate prolegomena and commentary the entire works of Plato, and it would be unfair to disparage the learning which the notes display: none the less it cannot be denied that in dealing with this dialogue the editor seems hard to have realised the nature of the task he has undertaken. 

Stallbaum was followed in 1841 by Th. H. Martin, whose work, published under the modest title of ' Etudes sur le Timee de Platon,' is far and away from the ablest and completest edition of the Timaeus which exists. As an exposition of the philosophical import of the dialogue, I should not be disposed to rate it so very highly; but so far as it deals with the physical and other scientific questions discussed and with the numerous grave difficulties of detail, it is invaluable: the acuteness and ingenuity, the luminous clearness, and (not least) the unfailing candour of the editor, deserve all admiration. The debt owed to Martin by any subsequent editor must need to be very great. 



the book details :
  • Author: Plato 
  • Translator: R. D.  Archer-Hind
  • Publication date:1888
  • Company: London: Macmillan

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