Plato Selected Myths
“Once upon a time there were just the gods; mortal beings did not yet exist.”
We are used to thinking of myths containing lines like this simply as stories, and modern myths as made up and fictitious. For the ancient Greeks, however, a myth was unveiled reality, and for Plato, who was a myth-maker as well as a myth-teller, a myth could tell us something important about ourselves and our world. The ultimate purpose of Plato’s myths is to help us live a better life, and to teach philosophical truths in a form we can most easily understand. This volume brings together ten of the most celebrated Platonic myths from eight of Plato’s dialogues, ranging from the early Protagoras and Gorgias to the later Timaeus and Critias. The collection includes the famous myth of the cave from Republic as well as “The Judgement of Souls” and “The Birth of Love.” Each myth is a self-contained story, prefaced by a short explanatory note. An introduction to the volume considers Plato’s use of myth and imagery.
These myths are both thought-provoking and profound, and together they provide an ideal introduction to Plato’s philosophy.