T h e G o d d e s s
A t h e n a
i n P l a t o ' s
C r i t i a s
The progress of the history will unfold
the various nations of barbaric tribes and all the Hellenic nations which
then existed, the sequel of our story, when it is, as it were, unrolled,
will disclose what happened in each locality; but I must describe first
of all the
Athenians of that day, and their enemies who fought with them, and
then the respective powers and governments of the two kingdoms.
And of these two we must give the
priority in our account to the state of Athens.
[109b] In the days of old, the Gods
were taking over by lot the whole earth according to its regions, -- not
according to the results of strife (between Poseidon and Athena):
for it would not be reasonable to suppose that the Gods were ignorant of
their own several rights, nor yet that they attempted to obtain for themselves
by means of strife that which more properly belonged to others.
So by just allotments the Gods received
each one his own, and they settled their countries; and when they had thus
settled them, they tended us up, even as shepherds [109c] tend their flocks,
to be their cattle and nurslings; excepting only that they did not use
blows or bodily force, as shepherds do, but governed us like pilots from
the stern of the vessel, which is an easy way of guiding animals, holding
our souls by the rudder of persuasion according to their own pleasure;
-- thus did they guide all mortal creatures.
Now in other regions others of the
Gods had their allotments and ordered the affairs, but inasmuch as Hephaestus
and Athena were of a like nature, being born
of the same father, and agreeing, moreover, in their love of wisdom and
of craftsmanship, both obtained as their common portion this land, which
was naturally adapted for wisdom and virtue; and there they implanted brave
children of the soil, and put into their minds the order of government;
their names are preserved, but their actions have disappeared by reason
of the destruction of those who received the tradition, and the lapse of
Now the city in those days was arranged
on this wise. In the first place the Acropolis was not as now.
For the fact is that a single night
of excessive rain washed away the earth and laid bare the rock; at the
same time there were earthquakes, and then occurred the extraordinary inundation,
which was the third before the great destruction of Deucalion.
But in primitive times the hill of
the Acropolis extended to the Eridanus and Ilissus, and included the Pnyx
on one side, and the Lycabettus as a boundary on the opposite side to the
Pnyx, and was all well covered with soil, and level at the top, except
in one or two places.
[112b] Outside the Acropolis and
under the sides of the hill there dwelt artisans, and by such of the husbandmen
as had their farms close by; but on the topmost part only the military
class by itself had its dwellings round about the temple of Athena
and Hephaestus, surrounding themselves with a single ring-fencelike the
garden of a single house.
On the north side of it they had
established their public dwellings and winter mess-rooms, and all the arrangements
in the way of buildings which were required for the community life
to the top
©1999 Roy George