Volume 12, Issue 2, 2012
The First Humans in Plato’s Timaeus
Plato’s Timaeus gives an account of the creation of the world and of human race. The text suggests that there was a first generation of human beings, and that they were all men. The paper raises difficulties for this traditional view, and considers an alternative, suggested in more recent literature, according to which humans of the first generation were sexually undifferentiated. The paper raises difficulties for the alternative view as well, and examines the third possibility, advocated by some ancient as well as modern interpreters, according to which there were no first humans, strictly speaking. Although the latter view avoids the pitfalls of the former two views, it crucially rests on a metaphorical reading of the creation story in the Timaeus.