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Apeiron

A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science

Ed. by Wildberg, Christian / Morison, Benjamin

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The Myth of Cronus in Plato’s Statesman: Cosmic Rotation and Earthly Correspondence

Corinne Gartner / Claudia Yau
Published Online: 2017-09-15 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apeiron-2017-0047

Abstract

The cosmological myth in Plato’s Statesman has generated several longstanding scholarly disputes, among them a controversy concerning the number and nature of the cosmic rotation cycles that it depicts. According to the standard interpretation, there are two cycles of rotation: west-to-east rotation occurs during the age of Cronus, and east-to-west rotation occurs during the age of Zeus, which is also our present era. Recent readings have challenged this two-cycle interpretation, arguing that the period of rotation opposed to our own is governed neither by Cronus nor by Zeus, but is instead a separate rotational cycle during which chaos reigns before a divine ruler reestablishes control. We introduce a new constraint on any plausible interpretation of the myth. According to the Correspondence Principle, changes in fundamental cyclical processes that shape the way of life on earth (mode of generation, growth, aging, and mode of death) occur if and only if there is a change in the direction of cosmic rotation. We use the Correspondence Principle to defend a version of the standard two-cycle interpretation.

Keywords: Statesman; Plato; Myth of Cronus; cosmology

We are grateful to Emily Austin, Rachel Parsons and an anonymous referee for their helpful comments. This paper originates from our discussions of the myth with Beba Cibralic and Priyanka Fouda.

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About the article

Published Online: 2017-09-15


Citation Information: Apeiron, ISSN (Online) 2156-7093, ISSN (Print) 0003-6390, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apeiron-2017-0047.

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