Critias, 460 BC- 403BC, was born in Athens and was the son of Callaeschrus. He grew up in a noble family. He was well-educated and a strong leader.
A research paper on Critias will want to note that he was much more than just part of nobility. Critias was:
- A well-known political figure in Athens
- A great speaker
- A writer
- A respected philosopher
- A historian in his writings
Critias was best known for being a leading member of the Thirty Tyrants, after the Peloponnesian War. The Thirty Tyrants was a council of thirty that was appointed by the Spartans to rule Athens. The Thirty took away the rights of the citizens of Athens who disagreed with them about the future of Athens or had extreme wealth. Many were executed and their wealth was plundered. At least 300 men were executed under the order of a mass execution. Critias was known as being the most ruthless of the Thirty.
Critias Early Years
Critias grew up in an aristocratic home. He was educated under the tutorage of Socrates and the Sophists. Critias was follower of Socrates; however, it appears that later in life they spent much time at odds with each other. Some Athenian citizens believed that Critias was driven to his horrific acts while in the Thirty because of Socrates' influence on him. Socrates became a hated person because of his connection with Critias after Critias' involvement with the Thirty Tyrants.
As a writer, Critias wrote poetry, tragedies, and constitutions. Only fragments of his writing still remain. Critias is also being one of the original writers of histories for individual states.
Critias cousin was also Perictione. Perictione was the mother of Plato. This makes Critias Plato's great-uncle. Critias appears in Plato's dialogues Protagoras and Charmides. It is believed that Plato looked up to Critias to some extent because he makes an appearance is several of Plato's works.
Critias the Tyrant
Critias did not die at the end of the rule of the Thirty Tyrants. Instead, he Critias died fighting in the equivalent of a street fight near Piraeus. The battle was between Athenian exiles and members of the Thirty.