Errata

In my article “The Atlantis Story: An Authentic Oral Tradition”, I wrote the following:

Timaeus-Critias (c. 355 BCE) was among Plato’s last written dialogues. Forsyth (1980: 77) has
surveyed his earlier works to see if he recorded any authentic Greek traditions. With the
possible exception of a single tale (Gorgias. 523a-e), there are no stories recognisable as
traditional myths.

Brisson (1998) has compiled all the mentions of muthos (myth) in Plato’s dialogues:

  • 87 occurrences of the word muthos (myth).
    • 69 with the meaning of “story, tale”.
      • 19 non-particular traditional stories.
      • 23 particular traditional stories (Greek myths).
      • 27 made up stories by Plato (Platonic myths).

The former non-Platonic myths (42) include:

  • 19 occurrences, of which “refer in a general way to myths told in ancient Greece” (Crat. 408c; Gorg. 505c; Laws. 3. 699d; 8. 840c; Phlb. 14a; Stat. 272c; Rep. 1. 350e; 2. 376d, 377a–c, 378e, 379a; 3. 391e, 398b) but not particular tales (e.g., the myth of Phaethon).
  • 23 occurrences of particular traditional stories including Phaethon’s myth and flood of Deucalion* (Ti. 23b, 22c; Laws. 11. 927c; 7. 804e; 9. 865d; 3. 682a, 683d; Rep. 2. 381e; Laws. 1. 636c–d; Rep. 1. 330d; 3. 386b; Laws. 4. 712a, 719c; 9. 872e; 11. 913c; 12. 944a; Rep. 8. 565d). Brisson (1998) unlike Forsyth (1980) – does not consider the story of the judgement of dead (Gorg. 523a) to be a genuine Greek myth, but a story Plato made up. The story nevertheless uses motifs, places (i.e., Tartarus), gods, from Greek mythology.

*Brisson incorrectly includes the flood of Deucalion among the list (19) of non-particular stories.

The 19 occurrences of non-particular stories include old wives tales and fables so should not be lumped in with the 23 tales of Greek mythology based on gods, heroes, rituals etc. I made a mistake asserting Plato did not record any of the latter myths (with possible exception of the judgment of dead) prior to Timaeus-Critias which mentions the myth of Phaethon (Ti. 22c) and flood of Deucalion (Ti. 23b). The Laws (c. 350 BCE) were written after Timaeus-Critias (c. 355 BCE), but in his Republic (c. 375 BCE), Plato records 5 particular traditional myths including a tale about a shine of Zeus Lykaios in Arcadia (Rep. 8. 565d; Paus. 8. 38. 7).

References

Brisson, Luc. Plato the Myth Maker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).

Forsyth, Phyllis Y. Atlantis: The Making of Myth (London: Croom Helm, 1980).

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