Timaeus, one of Plato's acknowledged masterpieces, is an attempt to
construct the universe and explain its contents by means of as few
axioms as possible. The result is a brilliant, bizarre, and surreal
cosmos - the product of the rational thinking of a creator god and
his astral assistants, and of purely mechanistic causes based on
the behaviour of the four elements. At times dazzlingly clear, at
times intriguingly opaque, this was state-of-the-art science in the
middle of the fourth century BC. The world is presented as a
battlefield of forces that are unified only by the will of God, who
had to do the best he could with recalcitrant building materials.
The unfinished companion piece, Critias, is the foundational text
for the story of Atlantis. It tells how a model society became
corrupt, and how a lost race of Athenians defeated the aggression
of the invading Atlanteans. This new edition combines the clearest
translation yet of these crucial ancient texts with an illuminating
introduction and diagrams.