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

Apeiron 53 (4):437-462 (2020)
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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.



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Author Profiles

Claudia Yau
Northwestern University
Corinne Gartner
Wellesley College

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Plato: Complete Works.J. Cooper & D. S. Hutchinson - 1998 - Phronesis 43 (2):197-206.
Plato's Cosmology: The Timaeus of Plato.Francis MacDonald Cornford - 1935 - Indianapolis, Ind.: Hackett Publishing Company. Edited by Francis Macdonald Cornford.
Method and Politics in Plato’s Statesman.M. S. Lane - 1998 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Plato's Cosmology and its Ethical Dimensions.Gabriela Roxana Carone - 2005 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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