Sisyphus fragment

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The Sisyphus fragment is a 5th century BC play thought to contain an atheistic argument. [1][2]

... Some shrewd and intelligent man invented fear of the gods for mortals, so the wicked would have something to fear ... concealing the truth with a false account

— translated by Gagarin and Woodruff 1995 (taken from the Introduction of the text Reason and Religion in Socratic Philosophy c.f. reference - p.9) [1]


The authorship of the Sisyphus Fragment remains in question. While most scholars attribute it to Critias, including ancient sources such as Sextus Empiricus, some claim Euripides as the author.[3][4] We know that Critias earned a reputation for atheism in later antiquity, but that is likely due to his presumed authorship of this fragment.


The Sisyphus fragment is problematic due to its nature as a fragment of a lost Satyr play. Even were the author of the fragment known for certain, its inclusion in a 'tragicomedy' further insulates the sentiment being expressed in the play from any earnest argument the author may or may not be making.


  1. ^ a b edited by ND Smith JF Miller Professor of Humanities Lewis and Clark College, P Woodruff Thompson Professor in the Humanities University of Texas at Austin. Reason and Religion in Socratic Philosophy. Oxford University Press, 23 Oct 2000 ISBN 0195350928. Retrieved 2015-03-24. 
  2. ^ JN Bremmer - The Cambridge Companion to Atheism - (p.24 - Note 24.) [Retrieved 2015-3-24](ed. this source is where I found < Sisyphus fragment > to make a wikipedia search
  3. ^ Dihle, Albrecht (1977). "Das Satyrspiel 'Sisyphos'". Hermes 105: 28–42.
  4. ^ Kahn, Charles (1997). "Greek Religion and Philosophy in the Sisyphus Fragment". Phronesis 42 (3): 247–262. doi:10.1163/15685289760518153.

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