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Critias

(c. 460—403 bc)


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(c.460–403 bc),

one of the Thirty Tyrants at Athens. Born of a rich old family to which Plato also belonged, he, like his close friend Alcibiades, was an associate of Socrates. He is often included with the sophists, and surviving fragments of his tragedies and other works evince an interest in current intellectual issues.

Critias was implicated in the mutilation of the herms (415) but was released on the evidence of Andocides. He played little or no part in the oligarchic coup in 411. In perhaps 408 he proposed the recall of Alcibiades. The latter's second exile in 406 was probably linked to Critias' own exile; he went to Thessaly. He was an admirer of Spartan ways, about which he wrote several works, and upon the Spartan defeat of Athens in 404 he returned from exile to become one of the Thirty Tyrants. In Xenophon's narrative he appears as the leader of the extremists, violent and unscrupulous, who proposes the execution of his colleague Theramenes; but the account in Athēnaiōn politeia does not mention him. He was killed fighting against Thrasybulus 2 in spring 403. His reputation did not recover after his death; but Plato honoured his memory in several dialogues.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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