8. Half The Story Is Missing
We know that Plato wrote at least two books about Atlantis. Today, we have a complete version of Timaeus, but we do not have a completed copy of Critias.
Critias ends after Zeus, head of the Greek gods, “collected all the gods into their most holy habitation, which, being placed in the center of the world, beholds all created things. And when he had called them together, he spake as follows.” It ends there. Talk about a cliffhanger.
It is not known if Plato left the book incomplete on purpose or if the finished version was lost long ago. Not only are we missing the ending of Critias, but it is thought that Plato wrote, or at least planned to write, a third book on Atlantis called Hermocrates.
There are a couple of facts to support this theory. A line in Critias reads, “Critias, we will grant your request, and we will grant the same by anticipation to Hermocrates, as well as to you and Timaeus.” This suggests that a third account of the story was to be given by Hermocrates.
Also, the names of the three books may contain a hidden message, especially when one looks at the order in which Plato wrote, or would have written, them. Timaeus comes from the Greek tio, meaning “to honor.” Critiascomes from the Greek krima, meaning “judgment.”
Lastly, Hermocrates is derived from “Hermes,” the messenger of the Greek gods. Timaeus honors prehistoric Athens for its heroism. Critias presumably ends with Zeus’s judgment of Atlantis. But what message might Hermocrates have delivered?
The answer may lie in what we know about Hermocrates himself. He was a real-life military leader who helped to lead the successful defense of Syracuse against Athens during the Peloponnesian War. This is much like the story of Atlantis. In the story, an Athenian state from archaic times repels an attack from the superior force of Atlantis.
Maybe the message in Hermocrates would have touched on why Athens’ attack on Syracuse failed and how Syracuse was able to defend itself from conquest. Unless someone finds a copy of this book, we may never know the whole story of Atlantis.