Who is Kritias (Critias)?June 25, 2021
The most well-known of the thirty is the student of Socrates and the uncle of Plato, who gave his name to one of his dialogues. During the Peloponnesian War, he was exiled from Athens, and Lisandros returned when he took Athens (404 BC); It is famous for its brutality and looting. He was killed while trying to take Peiraieus from Thrasybulos. His contempt for people led him to godlessness.
Kritias (Critias), an orator, philosopher, poet and historian, was praised by Dionysisos of Halicarnassus, Sextus Empiricius and Cicero. Of his works, only a few parts of the Tragedies of Sisyphus and Peirithoos remain; The idea and style in these works has sometimes led to these works being attributed to Euripides.
In the Platonic dialogue, Kritias (Critias) goes back 9000 years from the time Plato wrote the work (around the 4th century BC), and is destined to be a giant lost civilization from Atlantis, from the history, administration, and culture of this over-developed civilization. He talks about his technology, how it was a military threat, and his war with the Athenians. More precisely, he tends to talk about this battle that the Atlanteans say he has lost, but the dialogue ends in the middle of the conversation. Plato either did not write the sequel or only this much has survived to the present day, and the sequel has somehow been lost. It is extremely interesting in terms of giving historical and geographical details about Atlantis. The speakers of the dialogue, with the exception of Kritias (Critias), are Socrates, Timaeus, and Hermocrates, though they hardly speak at all.
In his satirical play Critias Sisyphus, he also reveals his view on the origin of religions and the use of religion for political purposes. Ahmet Arslan summarizes this view in the 2nd volume of the History of Ancient Philosophy as follows:
“Kritias (Critias) starts here by talking about a first state of humanity like Protagoras. He also thinks that the first period of humanity was an irregular, animalistic and insecure period. In this period, the good do not get their rewards, the bad ones are not punished. However, since this situation was against the basic needs of human beings, after a while, people thought of enacting laws to abolish this power and violence, to make justice prevail and to punish those who committed crimes. In this second period, the laws enabled to prevent the crimes committed openly, but to prevent crimes committed in secret. In this period, too, a smart, far-sighted, cunning thinker thought that the fear of God would work to deter people from these secret crimes. He invented the concept of gods whose powers did not escape his notice. Thus, he made people believe in the existence of a race called the gods, and by filling their lives with the fear of God, he tamed and civilized them, so to speak.”
Kritias is a sophist who came to the forefront with his views on the origin of religion. According to him, religious and divine subjects were invented by intelligent people so that people would obey the law (Kranz, 1948: DK 88 B 25).
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook