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Atlantis in Plato's Timaeus and Critias
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Plato's Atlantis in Timaeus

Plato's dialogue 'Timaeus' was written ca. 360 BC

Antlantis and Solon the Law-Builder

Critias: Listen, Socrates, to a tale which, though strange, is certainly true. It was attested by Solon, who was the wisest of the seven sages. He was a relative of my great-grandfather, Dropides, and he told the story to Critias, my grandfather, who remembered and repeated it to us.

Socrates: Very good . . . Not a mere legend, but an actual fact?

Critias: I will tell an old-world story which I heard from an aged man; for Critias, at the time of telling it, was . . . nearly ninety years of age, and I was about ten. One of our tribe said that in his judgement Solon was not only the wisest of men, but also the noblest of poets. The old man (Critias) brightened up at hearing this and said, smiling:

"Yes, Amynander, if Solon had only . . . completed the tale which he brought with him from Egypt, . . . he would have been as famous as Homer or Hesiod."

Old, great actions of Greece were recorded in Egypt, said Solon

"And what was the tale about, Critias?" said Amynander. About the greatest action . . . through the lapse of time and the destruction of the actors, it has not come down to us."

"Tell us . . . how and from whom Solon heard this veritable tradition."

He replied: "In the Egyptian Delta, at the head of which the river Nile divides, there is a certain district which is called the district of Sais, and the great city of the district is also called Sais. The citizens have a deity for their foundress; she is called in the Egyptian tongue Neith, and is asserted by them to be the same whom the Hellenes call Athene; they are great lovers of the Athenians, and say that they are in some way related to them.

To this city came Solon, and was received there with great honour and made the discovery that neither he nor any other Hellene knew anything worth mentioning about the times of old. On one occasion he began to tell about the most ancient things in our part of the world - about Phoroneus, who is called "the first man," and about Niobe; and after the Deluge, of the survival of Deucalion and Pyrrha; and he traced the genealogy of their descendants. On this one of the priests, who was of a very great age, said:

"O Solon, Solon, you Hellenes are never anything but children."

Solon in return asked him what he meant.

"I mean to say," he replied, "in mind you are all young; there is no old opinion handed down among you by ancient tradition, nor any science which is hoary with age. There have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; fire and water, and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes.

There is a story, which even you have preserved, that once upon a time Paethon, the son of Helios, having yoked the steeds in his father's chariot, burnt up all that was upon the earth, and was himself destroyed by a thunderbolt. Now this has the form of a myth, but really signifies a declination of the bodies moving in the heavens around the earth, and a great conflagration of things upon the earth - at such times those who live upon the mountains and in dry and lofty places are more liable to destruction than those who dwell by rivers or on the seashore. And from this calamity the Nile, who is our never-failing saviour, delivers and preserves us.

When, on the other hand, the gods purge the earth with a deluge of water, the survivors in your country are herdsmen and shepherds who dwell on the mountains, but those who, like you, live in cities are carried by the rivers into the sea. Whereas in this land, neither then nor at any other time, does the water come down from above on the fields, - the traditions preserved here are the most ancient.

The fact is, that . . . whatever happened either in your country or in ours, or in any other region of which we are informed - if there were any actions noble or great or in any other way remarkable, they have all been written down by us of old, and are preserved in our temples.

After the stream from heaven, like a pestilence, comes pouring down and leaves you destitute of letters and education; you have to begin all over again like children. As for those genealogies of yours, Solon, they are no better than the tales of children.

In the first place you remember a single deluge only, but there were many previous ones; in the next place, you do not know that there formerly dwelt in your land the fairest and noblest race of men which ever lived, and that you and your whole city are descended from a small seed or remnant of them which survived. The survivors of that destruction died, leaving no written word.

Well, there was a time, Solon, before the great deluge of all, when the city which now is Athens was first in war and said to have performed the noblest deeds".

Solon marvelled, and earnestly requested the priests to inform him exactly.

The Athenian constitution, from a goddess

"You are welcome to hear about them, Solon," said the priest, "above all, for the sake of the goddess who is the common patron and parent and educator of both our cities. She founded your city a thousand years before ours, receiving from the Earth and Hephaestus the seed of your race, and afterwards she founded ours, of which the constitution is recorded in our sacred registers to be eight thousand years old. As touching your citizens of nine thousand years ago,.

If you compare the Athens laws with ours you will find that many of ours are the counterpart of yours. In the first place, there is the caste of priests; next, there are the artificers, who ply their several crafts by themselves and do not intermix; and also there is the class of shepherds and of hunters, as well as that of husbandmen. And you will observe, too, that the warriors in Egypt are distinct from all the other classes,.

Observe how our law from the very first made a study of the whole order of things, extending even to prophecy and medicine which gives health, deriving what was needful for human life, adding all sorts of knowledge which was akin to them.

The goddess saw that the happy temperament of the seasons in your land would produce the wisest of men. So the goddess, a lover both of war and of wisdom, selected and settled that spot which was the most likely to produce men most like herself. And there you dwelt, having such laws as these and still better ones, and excelled all mankind in all virtue."

The story of a wonderful empire: adamant Atlantis

The Egyptian priest went on,

"Many great and wonderful deeds are recorded of your state in our histories. But one of them exceeds all the rest in greatness and valour. For these histories tell of a mighty power which unprovoked made an expedition against the whole of Europe and Asia, and to which your city put an end. This power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean, for in those days the Atlantic was navigable; and there was an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles; the island was larger than Libya and Asia put together, and was the way to other islands, and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent which surrounded the true ocean; for this sea which is within the Straits of Heracles is only a harbour, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a real sea, and the surrounding land may be most truly called a boundless continent.

Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent, and, furthermore, the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia.

This vast power, gathered into one, endeavoured to subdue at a blow our country and yours and the whole of the region within the straits; and then, Solon, your country shone forth, in the excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind. She was pre-eminent in courage and military skill, and was the leader of the Hellenes. And when the rest fell off from her, being compelled to stand alone, after having undergone the very extremity of danger, she defeated and triumphed over the invaders, and preserved from slavery those who were not yet subjugated, and generously liberated all the rest of us who dwell within the pillars.

But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea.

The sacred, recovered Egyptian record

I have told you briefly, Socrates, what the aged Critias heard from Solon and related to us. A long time had elapsed, but on my way home yesterday I communicated the tale to my companions as I remembered it - I recovered nearly the whole it.

The lessons of our childhood make wonderful impression on our memories.

When I was young I listened to the old man's narrative with childlike interest and asked him again and again to repeat his words. And like an indelible picture they were branded into my mind. [Link]


Atlantis in Plato's Critias

The patron of Atlantis was Poseidon, also called Neptune

The Attic politician Solon, travelled a lot after he had given his countrymen new and more just laws in 594 BC. On his journey he came to Sais in Egypt, and was told about the continent Atlantis. Back in Athens he told of it to friends and family. The tale was passed on to Plato centuries after that. And Plato wrote the tale down in one of his dialogues.

Far west in the Atlantic Ocean, Plato tells, there was a prosperous and fertile island that was lorded over by just and mighty kings. Their realm flourished. Kings were succeeded by sons that were as just as they themselves had been, and the laws were top. What is more, the people adhered to them.

The island kingdom had frtile fields, orchards of olives and other orchards. Many minerals were dug up from the earth there. There were cattle and also wild animals for hunters. Atlantis was paradise itself.

There were many sport arenas where youths managed to gain health. In the towns or cities there were ports full of ships. Trading was fair.

Atlantis became mighty, and sent its fleet across the ocean and into the Mediterranean Ocean through the strait of Gibraltar. And a little later Atlantis dominated the whole basin, but for the area where we find ancient Greece. Wealth amassed in Atlantis, where they took to building palaces that were panelled with ivory inlaid with gold and silver.

Luxury living spread. But so long as the people obeyed their wise kings and the good laws, things went well. But the might and splendour of Atlantis bred corruption, alas. Then laws were not as much esteemed and lived up to as earlier. Envy and injustice won an entrance. Bad circles of influences started and didn't stop.

The patron of Atlantis was Poseidon (Neptune), brother of Zeus (Jupiter). The temple of Poseidon stood on top of the Acropolis in the middle of the island. The laws of the kingdom was written on a pillar there, so they were for all to see.

Now Zeus and his brother Poseidon intervened: The unjust inhabitants had to be punished by the natural catastrophe Solon retells from, and others. A horrible earthquake, volcano eruption and a tidal wave left ruin and death behind. Atlantis sank into the ocean and was gone. [Cf. 114-15]

Atlantis in Plato's dialogue "Critias"

Critias tells: "You must not be surprised if you should perhaps hear Hellenic names given to foreigners. I will tell you the reason of this: Solon . . . enquired into the meaning of the names, and found that the early Egyptians in writing them down had translated them into their own language, and he recovered the meaning of the several names and when copying them out again translated them into our language. My great-grandfather, Dropides, had the original writing, which is still in my possession, and was carefully studied by me when I was a child. Therefore if you hear names such as are used in this country, you must not be surprised, for I have told how they came to be introduced. The tale follows:

The god of the ocean had sex with the mortal woman Cleito

Critias told: The gods distributed the whole earth into portions that differed in extent, and made for themselves temples and instituted sacrifices. And Poseidon, who received for his lot the island of Atlantis, had children with a mortal woman, and settled them in a part of the island . . . Looking towards the sea, but in the centre of the whole island, there was a plain. It is said to have been the fairest of all plains and very fertile. Near the plain again, and also in the centre of the island at a distance of about fifty stadia [guess: about 10 kilometres] there was a mountain not very high on any side. [Greek 'stadium' is no fixed unit of length. There are various stadias. Usually it's about 185 metres]

In this mountain there dwelt one of the earth-born primeval men of that country. His name was Evenor, and he had a wife named Leucippe, and they had an only daughter who was called Cleito. The maiden had already reached womanhood when her father and mother died; Poseidon fell in love with her and had intercourse with her. And breaking the ground, enclosed the hill in which she dwelt all round, the god made alternate zones of sea and land larger and smaller, encircling one another: There were two of land and three of water. He turned them as with a lathe: Each had its circumference equidistant every way from the centre, so that no man could get to the island, for ships and voyages were not as yet.

He himself, being a god, found no difficulty in making special arrangements for the centre island. There he brought up two springs of water from beneath the earth. One was of warm water and the other of cold. He made every variety of food to spring up abundantly from the soil. He also begat and brought up five pairs of twin male children. Then, dividing the island of Atlantis into ten portions, he gave to the first-born of the eldest pair his mother's dwelling and the surrounding allotment. That part was the largest and best. The god also made him king over the rest.

The others were made princes. The god gave them rule over many men, and a large territory. He named them all.

The couples of twins after Poseidon

  • The eldest, who was the first king, he named Atlas, and after him the whole island and the ocean were called Atlantic. To his twin brother, who was born after him, and obtained as his lot the extremity of the island towards the Pillars of Hercules, facing the country which is now called the region of Gades in that part of the world, he gave the name which in the Hellenic language is Eumelus, in the language of the country which is named after him, Gadeirus.
  • Of the second pair of twins he called one Ampheres, and the other Evaemon.
  • To the elder of the third pair of twins he gave the name Mneseus, and Autochthon to the one who followed him.
  • Of the fourth pair of twins he called the elder Elasippus, and the younger Mestor.
  • And of the fifth pair he gave to the elder the name of Azaes, and to the younger that of Diaprepes.

All these and their descendants for many generations were the inhabitants and rulers of divers islands in the open sea; and also, as has been already said, they held sway in our direction over the country within the Pillars as far as Egypt and Tyrrhenia.

Resources found back in Atlantis

Now Atlas had a numerous and honourable family, and they retained the kingdom, the eldest son handing it on to his eldest for many generations; and they had such an amount of wealth as was never before possessed by kings and potentates. It isn't likely ever to be again either. They were furnished with everything which they needed, both in the city and country. For because of the greatness of their empire many things were brought to them from foreign countries, and the island itself provided most of what was needed by them for the uses of life. In the first place, they dug out of the earth whatever was to be found there, solid as well as fusile.

They also dug out what is now only a name and was then something more than a name, orichalcum. It was dug out of the earth in many parts of the island, and was more precious in those days than anything except gold.

There was an abundance of wood for carpenter's work, and enough of tame and wild animals. Moreover, there were a lot elephants in the island. Yes, as there was provision for all other sorts of animals, both for those which live in lakes and marshes and rivers, and also for those which live in mountains and on plains, so there was for the animal which is the largest and most voracious of all.

Also whatever fragrant things there now are in the earth, whether roots, or herbage, or woods, or essences which distil from fruit and flower, grew and thrived in that land; also the fruit which admits of cultivation, both the dry sort, which is given us for nourishment and any other which we use for food-we call them all by the common name pulse, and the fruits having a hard rind, affording drinks and meats and ointments.

Besides there was a good store of chestnuts and the like: they furnish pleasure and amusement. There are fruits which spoil with keeping, and the pleasant kinds of dessert, with which we console ourselves after dinner, when we are tired of eating-all these

That sacred island which then beheld the light of the sun, brought forth fair and wondrous fruit and in infinite abundance.

With such blessings the earth freely furnished them; meanwhile they went on constructing their temples and palaces and harbours and docks. They arranged the whole country in the following manner:

How they arranged the land

First of all they bridged over the zones of sea which surrounded the ancient metropolis, making a road to and from the royal palace. And at the very beginning they built the palace in the habitation of the god and of their ancestors, which they continued to ornament in successive generations, every king surpassing the one who went before him to the utmost of his power, until they made the building a marvel to behold for size and for beauty. And beginning from the sea they bored a canal of three hundred feet in width and one hundred feet in depth and fifty stadia in length, which they carried through to the outermost zone, making a passage from the sea up to this, which became a harbour, and leaving an opening sufficient to enable the largest vessels to find ingress. Moreover, they divided at the bridges the zones of land which parted the zones of sea, leaving room for a single trireme to pass out of one zone into another, and they covered over the channels so as to leave a way underneath for the ships; for the banks were raised considerably above the water. Now the largest of the zones into which a passage was cut from the sea was three stadia in breadth, and the zone of land which came next of equal breadth; but the next two zones, the one of water, the other of land, were two stadia, and the one which surrounded the central island was a stadium only in width. The island in which the palace was situated had a diameter of five stadia. All this including the zones and the bridge, which was the sixth part of a stadium in width, they surrounded by a stone wall on every side, placing towers and gates on the bridges where the sea passed in. The stone which was used in the work they quarried from underneath the centre island, and from underneath the zones, on the outer as well as the inner side. One kind was white, another black, and a third red, and as they quarried, they at the same time hollowed out double docks, having roofs formed out of the native rock. Some of their buildings were simple, but in others they put together different stones, varying the colour to please the eye, and to be a natural source of delight. The entire circuit of the wall, which went round the outermost zone, they covered with a coating of brass, and the circuit of the next wall they coated with tin, and the third, which encompassed the citadel, flashed with the red light of orichalcum.

How the palaces of Atlantis were formed

The palaces in the interior of the citadel were constructed on this wise:-in the centre was a holy temple dedicated to Cleito and Poseidon, which remained inaccessible, and was surrounded by an enclosure of gold; this was the spot where the family of the ten princes first saw the light, and thither the people annually brought the fruits of the earth in their season from all the ten portions, to be an offering to each of the ten. Here was Poseidon's own temple which was a stadium in length, and half a stadium in width, and of a proportionate height, having a strange barbaric appearance. All the outside of the temple, with the exception of the pinnacles, they covered with silver, and the pinnacles with gold. In the interior of the temple the roof was of ivory, curiously wrought everywhere with gold and silver and orichalcum; and all the other parts, the walls and pillars and floor, they coated with orichalcum. In the temple they placed statues of gold: there was the god himself standing in a chariot-the charioteer of six winged horses-and of such a size that he touched the roof of the building with his head; around him there were a hundred Nereids riding on dolphins, for such was thought to be the number of them by the men of those days. There were also in the interior of the temple other images which had been dedicated by private persons. And around the temple on the outside were placed statues of gold of all the descendants of the ten kings and of their wives, and there were many other great offerings of kings and of private persons, coming both from the city itself and from the foreign cities over which they held sway. There was an altar too, which in size and workmanship corresponded to this magnificence, and the palaces, in like manner, answered to the greatness of the kingdom and the glory of the temple.

Clever and artistic use of fountains and much else - and women's bath's were separate

In the next place, they had fountains, one of cold and another of hot water, in gracious plenty flowing; and they were wonderfully adapted for use by reason of the pleasantness and excellence of their waters. They constructed buildings about them and planted suitable trees, also they made cisterns, some open to the heavens, others roofed over, to be used in winter as warm baths; there were the kings' baths, and the baths of private persons, which were kept apart; and there were separate baths for women, and for horses and cattle, and to each of them they gave as much adornment as was suitable. Of the water which ran off they carried some to the grove of Poseidon, where were growing all manner of trees of wonderful height and beauty, owing to the excellence of the soil, while the remainder was conveyed by aqueducts along the bridges to the outer circles; and there were many temples built and dedicated to many gods; also gardens and places of exercise, some for men, and others for horses in both of the two islands formed by the zones; and in the centre of the larger of the two there was set apart a race-course of a stadium in width, and in length allowed to extend all round the island, for horses to race in. Also there were guardhouses at intervals for the guards, the more trusted of whom were appointed-to keep watch in the lesser zone, which was nearer the Acropolis while the most trusted of all had houses given them within the citadel, near the persons of the kings. The docks were full of triremes and naval stores, and all things were quite ready for use. Enough of the plan of the royal palace.

Leaving the palace and passing out across the three you came to a wall which began at the sea and went all round: this was everywhere distant fifty stadia from the largest zone or harbour, and enclosed the whole, the ends meeting at the mouth of the channel which led to the sea. The entire area was densely crowded with habitations; and the canal and the largest of the harbours were full of vessels and merchants coming from all parts, who, from their numbers, kept up a multitudinous sound of human voices, and din and clatter of all sorts night and day.

Glimpses from the rest of the land

I have described the city and the environs of the ancient palace nearly in the words of Solon, and now I must endeavour to represent the nature and arrangement of the rest of the land. The whole country was said by him to be very lofty and precipitous on the side of the sea, but the country immediately about and surrounding the city was a level plain, itself surrounded by mountains which descended towards the sea; it was smooth and even, and of an oblong shape, extending in one direction three thousand stadia, but across the centre inland it was two thousand stadia. This part of the island looked towards the south, and was sheltered from the north. The surrounding mountains were celebrated for their number and size and beauty, far beyond any which still exist, having in them also many wealthy villages of country folk, and rivers, and lakes, and meadows supplying food enough for every animal, wild or tame, and much wood of various sorts, abundant for each and every kind of work.

The fertile plain of Atlantis

I will now describe the plain, as it was fashioned by nature and by the labours of many generations of kings through long ages. It was for the most part rectangular and oblong, and where falling out of the straight line followed the circular ditch. The depth, and width, and length of this ditch were incredible, and gave the impression that a work of such extent, in addition to so many others, could never have been artificial. Nevertheless I must say what I was told. It was excavated to the depth of a hundred, feet, and its breadth was a stadium everywhere; it was carried round the whole of the plain, and was ten thousand stadia in length. It received the streams which came down from the mountains, and winding round the plain and meeting at the city, was there let off into the sea. Further inland, likewise, straight canals of a hundred feet in width were cut from it through the plain, and again let off into the ditch leading to the sea: these canals were at intervals of a hundred stadia, and by them they brought down the wood from the mountains to the city, and conveyed the fruits of the earth in ships, cutting transverse passages from one canal into another, and to the city. Twice in the year they gathered the fruits of the earth-in winter having the benefit of the rains of heaven, and in summer the water which the land supplied by introducing streams from the canals.

Military service was there

As to the population, each of the lots in the plain had to find a leader for the men who were fit for military service, and the size of a lot was a square of ten stadia each way, and the total number of all the lots was sixty thousand. And of the inhabitants of the mountains and of the rest of the country there was also a vast multitude, which was distributed among the lots and had leaders assigned to them according to their districts and villages. The leader was required to furnish for the war the sixth portion of a war-chariot, so as to make up a total of ten thousand chariots; also two horses and riders for them, and a pair of chariot-horses without a seat, accompanied by a horseman who could fight on foot carrying a small shield, and having a charioteer who stood behind the man-at-arms to guide the two horses; also, he was bound to furnish two heavy armed soldiers, two slingers, three stone-shooters and three javelin-men, who were light-armed, and four sailors to make up the complement of twelve hundred ships. Such was the military order of the royal city-the order of the other nine governments varied, and it would be wearisome to recount their several differences.

Commands of the oceanic god regulated the fare through such as laws and well established customs

As to offices and honours, the following was the arrangement from the first. Each of the ten kings in his own division and in his own city had the absolute control of the citizens, and, in most cases, of the laws, punishing and slaying whomsoever he would. Now the order of precedence among them and their mutual relations were regulated by the commands of Poseidon which the law had handed down. These were inscribed by the first kings on a pillar of orichalcum, which was situated in the middle of the island, at the temple of Poseidon, whither the kings were gathered together every fifth and every sixth year alternately, thus giving equal honour to the odd and to the even number. And when they were gathered together they consulted about their common interests, and enquired if any one had transgressed in anything and passed judgement and before they passed judgement they gave their pledges to one another on this wise:-

There were bulls who had the range of the temple of Poseidon; and the ten kings, being left alone in the temple, after they had offered prayers to the god that they might capture the victim which was acceptable to him, hunted the bulls, without weapons but with staves and nooses; and the bull which they caught they led up to the pillar and cut its throat over the top of it so that the blood fell upon the sacred inscription. Now on the pillar, besides the laws, there was inscribed an oath invoking mighty curses on the disobedient. When therefore, after slaying the bull in the accustomed manner, they had burnt its limbs, they filled a bowl of wine and cast in a clot of blood for each of them; the rest of the victim they put in the fire, after having purified the column all round. Then they drew from the bowl in golden cups and pouring a libation on the fire, they swore that they would judge according to the laws on the pillar, and would punish him who in any point had already transgressed them, and that for the future they would not, if they could help, offend against the writing on the pillar, and would neither command others, nor obey any ruler who commanded them, to act otherwise than according to the laws of their father Poseidon.

This was the prayer which each of them offered up for himself and for his descendants, at the same time drinking and dedicating the cup out of which he drank in the temple of the god; and after they had supped and satisfied their needs, when darkness came on, and the fire about the sacrifice was cool, all of them put on most beautiful azure robes, and, sitting on the ground, at night, over the embers of the sacrifices by which they had sworn, and extinguishing all the fire about the temple, they received and gave judgement, if any of them had an accusation to bring against any one; and when they given judgement, at daybreak they wrote down their sentences on a golden tablet, and dedicated it together with their robes to be a memorial.

The most significant laws of the land

There were many special laws affecting the several kings inscribed about the temples, but the most important was the following: They were not to take up arms against one another, and they were all to come to the rescue if any one in any of their cities attempted to overthrow the royal house; like their ancestors, they were to deliberate in common about war and other matters, giving the supremacy to the descendants of Atlas. And the king was not to have the power of life and death over any of his kinsmen unless he had the assent of the majority of the ten.

"As tradition tells -"

Such was the vast power which the god settled in the lost island of Atlantis; and this he afterwards directed against our land for the following reasons, as tradition tells: For many generations, as long as the divine nature lasted in them, they were obedient to the laws, and well-affectioned towards the god, whose seed they were; for they possessed true and in every way great spirits, uniting gentleness with wisdom in the various chances of life, and in their intercourse with one another.

They despised everything but virtue, caring little for their present state of life, and thinking lightly of the possession of gold and other property, which seemed only a burden to them; neither were they intoxicated by luxury; nor did wealth deprive them of their self-control; but they were sober, and saw clearly that all these goods are increased by virtue and friendship with one another, whereas by too great regard and respect for them, they are lost and friendship with them. By such reflections and by the continuance in them of a divine nature, the qualities which we have described grew and increased among them.

But when the divine portion began to fade away, and became diluted too often and too much with the mortal admixture, and the human nature got the upper hand, they then, being unable to bear their fortune, behaved unseemly, and to him who had an eye to see grew visibly debased, for they were losing the fairest of their precious gifts; but to those who had no eye to see the true happiness, they appeared glorious and blessed at the very time when they were full of avarice and unrighteous power. Zeus, the god of gods, who rules according to law, and is able to see into such things, perceiving that an honourable race was in a woeful plight, and wanting to inflict punishment on them, that they might be chastened and improve, collected all the gods into their most holy habitation, which, being placed in the centre of the world, beholds all created things. And when he had called them together, he spoke as follows -" [The rest of the dialogue has been lost.] [Check]


Atlantis Rhetoric

The sage: Do you now remember the salient points that I have spoken of and passed on?

The listener: Can remember some of them, oddly enough. Eh, will you briefly recapitulate the gross outline somehow, so that the particulars will be more firmly fixed in my brain cells?

The sage: To be sure I will.

The listener: Yes, thank you. That's exactly what I need.

The sage: I never said that the guardians of Atlantis should be gifted with a temperament - and fierce with their enemies, and yet it could fit very well, if you bear in mind how sharks behave to get a dinner.

The listener: Certainly.

The sage: Didn't I tell you anything at all about the education of Atlantheans? Think of all that I may say of their education. Were they not to be trained in gymnastic . . . and all other sorts of knowledge which were proper for them?

The listener: I surely think so. Indeed I do.

The listener: That could also have been said, isn't that true?

The listener: That, again, is just what you say.

The listener: Yes, and what I propose next, about how they were educated into high-flown science back in Atlantis, that must be easy to remember too, or what?

The listener: Well, I guess you're right - All right.

The sage: I have now given you all the heads fit for the story. Or is there anything more which has been omitted?

The listener: Nothing, nothing. I do hope so.

The sage: I should like, before going further, to tell you how I feel. I might compare myself to a person who once got seized with a desire of seeing a lot after I got a much similar desire to seize a bull.

The listener: I quite approve, don't I?

Twists and turns - aim better than mere surface technicality

The medley right above is rooted in the very first sections of Plato's dialogue Timaeus. It reflects how ancient rhetorician used to wind their way.

And it could show useful expressions for us here today too, not only esteemed, ancient philosophers used to link their phrases or assertive talk during debate. It consists of much typical twists and turns found inside such particular rhetorics - Linking elements like these can be much good to know of, even. We have many fine items of much similar kind in our folktales - they happen to give much welcomed and figurative handles to a conversation most often.] [◦Link]


Atlantis Speculation

Plato wrote that the island of Atlantis was larger than Ancient Libya and Asia Minor combined, lying "in front of the Pillars of Hercules", and Atlanteans conquered many parts of Western Europe and Africa about 9600 BCE. After a failed attempt to invade Athens [who did not exist that time], Atlantis sank into the ocean "in a single day and night of misfortune".

Plato tells it is a "true story". But he writes (1) the dialogue is about a tale that "has not come down to us," and still is told. (2) The tale contains descriptions of Athenians from thousands of years before Athens was built. [More]

More data has been been dug up more recently, like remnants of the Minoan civilisation, and some have been found, like ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs about Keftiu. They suggest that Atlantis was the Minoan civilisation. Others would place Atlantis at least west of Gibraltar. A recurrent problem with the placements is that not all of Plato's key descriptions of Atlantis fit:

  • Is any possible Atlantis site marked by stones in red, white, and black?
  • Was it an island continent with a fleet and contacts around the Mediterrean Sea?
  • Was it destroyed in cataclysms lasting for about a day and a night?
  • Are there remnants of a palace that matches Plato's description fairly well?
  • Are there ancient descriptions left in neighbouring countries somehow, such as Egypt?

There are many other hallmarks to check.

On Tuesday 21 April in 2009 the History Channel sent a program about Atlantis and the Minoan Bronze Age civilisation that flourished on Crete and surrounding islands and further until ca. 1450 BCE. The Channel also has a brief video named "Was Atlantis located in ancient Greece?" to be viewed. The History Channel program informs that most of Plato's descriptions of Atlantis conforms rather nicely to the Minoan culture on Crete. As hinted at above, Plato speaks of the white, black, and red stones of Atlantis. Cliffs remaining on Thera (off Cypros) are a mix of white, black and red stone. Further, the constructions of Minoan palaces seem to correspond with those Plato wrote about later.

According to the program, the source that Solon based his story on, makes it OK to drop many far out, maddening Atlantis'es - like South America, Antarctica, Indonesia, Great Britain, and further - and instead study a more known culture near at hand.

Yet, how certain can we be that the Egyptian story of the Minoan culture was at the back of Plato's Atlantis? Incomplete evidence is mounting so far . . .

Plato's tale

Plato's placement of Atlantis contains many details, but geographic coordinates are missing. There are several houses (books, assertions, claims, theories) built on so loose foundations (so little to hold on to) that they might as well not have been built in the first place.

We learn from Buddha:

Buddhic Do not go by reports (repeated hearing), by legends, by traditions, by rumours, by scriptures, by surmise, . . . or bias toward a notion because it has been pondered over (etc.)." [Link]

Atlantis of Plato in Timaeus and Critias, Literature  

Jowett, Benjamin, tr. 1914. The Dialogues of Plato. Vol. 4. New York: National Library Company.

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