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The purpose of this paper is to discuss the question whether the creation myth in Plato's Timaeus is to be taken literally or not. My reason for reopening the discussion is the recent publication by Professor Vlastos of a paper entitled "Creation in the Timaeus: is it a Fiction?" In this paper Vlastos tries to answer the arguments that Professor Cherniss gave in favor of the metaphorical interpretation, in the course of which arguments he attacked Vlastos' earlier article "The Disorderly Motion in the Timaeus?. My reason for concentrating on Professor Vlastos ' papers is that his is the most recent and most complete statement of the question among those who consider that the creation of the world was meant by Plato literally. I have learned a lot from Professor Vlastos' arguments and my disagreements with his views should not be taken as implying lack of respect for them; Professor Vlastos is a scholar to whom I feel greatly indebted both from the scholarly and the personal point of view. I have learned many things from the many scholars who have argued for the metaphorical inter-, pretation of the creation of the universe in the Timaeus, but since Cherniss discussion is the latest, most complete and coherent presentation of this view, I shall take my point of departure from his treatment of the question, though here and there I shall refer to earlier discussions.


Leonardo Taran presented “The Creation Myth in Plato’s Timaeus” to the Society at its meeting with the American Philological Association in Toledo in 1966. A revised version was published in John P. Anton & George Kustas, eds. 1971. Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy vol. 1, SUNY, 372-407.

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