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Plato's Cosmology: The Timaeus of Plato

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0872203860
ISBN-10: 0872203867
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  • Plato's Cosmology: The Timaeus of Plato
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  • Plato: Timaeus, Critias, Cleitophon, Menexenus, Epistles (Loeb Classical Library No. 234)
Total price: $43.10
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Editorial Reviews

Review

. . . one of the masterpieces of classical scholarship. . . . Contemporary work on the Timaeus will inevitably take Plato’s Cosmology as its starting point. --Charles H. Kahn, University of Pennsylvania



An indispensable storehouse of information and analysis--essential reading nowadays just as in 1935, when it first appeared. . . . Plato's Cosmology continues to be the constant reference point of any serious study of the Timaeus. --John M. Cooper, Princeton University

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 390 pages
  • Publisher: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. (September 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872203867
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872203860
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #785,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Roberto V. Novaes on February 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
A cosmology is a narrative concerning the creation of the universe. Many ancient philosophers have written or elaborated this kind of work. The Platonic dialogue Timeus is an account of the work of the creator god (called the demiurge - or artisan) sculpting the chaotic material world in accordance with the immaterial model of the Ideas. But the text was written in a very hermetic and symbolic language, making its interpretation difficult or even impossible without the knowledge of the references and symbols used by Plato. This book is a complete translation of the text followed by a comprehensive commentary explaining in detail every passage. Francis MacDonald Cornford is one of the most important ancient philosophy scholars, and this work reveals his deep knowledge of Platonic and Greek thought. It is a must have for anyone interested in greek and Platonic philosophy.
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For the non-expert reader of Plato, this is a very good text for working through Timaeus. Actually, it may be useful to expert readers as well, but I wouldn't know about that, being firmly situated in the non-expert camp. Though some scholars may take exception to certain parts of Cornford's translation and interpretation, for those of us trying to get through it for the first time and on our own, this is still an exceptional guide. By the way, for an alternative translation and interpretation, the reader may want to check out Kalkavage's translation (Focus Philosophical Library), it is very good (I would rate it 5 stars also) and has some extremely helpful appendices for understanding references to music, astronomy, and geometry.
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This is an excellent and invaluable reference book for Plato's Timaeus. If you are reading Timaeus you MUST have this book. It contains line-by-line commentary, and also, most valuable, some very helpful illustrations (example: illustration of the human body as Timaeus explained it). I would, however, balance this book with other books that attempt to place Timaeus within the rest of Plato's works. I recommend, for example, Peter Kalkavage's Timaeus. There, he attempts to link Timaeus and Republic.
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This is basically a scholarly paragraph-by-paragraph commentary on the Timaeus. It's really good for what it is, but I don't recommend it as your first introduction to the Timaeus -- rather, I recommend Waterfield:

http://www.amazon.com/Timaeus-Critias-Oxford-Worlds-Classics-ebook/dp/B006NTMD16

A problem with using Cornford as an introduction is that he comments on everything, and it's hard to figure out what the main themes are. I tried reading Cornford as an intro and gave it up, but once I'd read Waterfield I found Cornford extremely helpful both in elucidating passages further than Waterfield does, and in interpreting passages Waterfield doesn't cover. So if you're looking to learn about the Timaeus, I'd suggest Waterfield first and Cornford second (or Cornford alongside Waterfield).
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