Plato’s Atlantis

The legend of Atlantis begins with Plato who wrote two Socratic dialogues Timaeus and Critias. These are the only two existing written records which refer to the lost continent. The fact that Plato wrote about the fabled city gives credence to the existence of such a place. Like Homer before him and the legend of Troy, Plato heard the story of Atlantis and retold it. According to a number of sources, Plato while a boy was listening to his great grandfather, Solon and other men who recounted the story. Much like the Homer’s Iliad, the legend of Atlantis has a basis in fact, and it’s a matter of washing out the dregs to get to the gold.

Plato from the School of Athens by Raphael, 1509 Wikipedia

Plato from the School of Athens by Raphael, 1509
Wikipedia

Plato Luni marble, copy of the portrait made by Silianion ca. 370 BCE for the Academia in Athens. Musei Capitolini Wikipedia

Plato
Luni marble, copy of the portrait made by Silianion ca. 370 BCE for the Academia in Athens.
Musei Capitolini
Wikipedia

Many of Plato’s dialogues were written as teaching tools, parables and oft times, Socrates his mentor and teacher was the main character leading the discussions. In a sense, it was Plato’s way of eulogising his teacher who was condemned to death for coercing and leading the Athenian youth astray with his teachings. The dialogues were a written response to the theory of an “ideal society” led by a discussion from Socrates. It was not long after Plato wrote his Republic, a further idealised approach to how a society should run, the policies, principals, rights of individuals and laws enforced.

The character of Timaeus may or may not have been a real person but Critias did exist. Critias was Plato’s great grandfather who heard the story from Dropides, (his grandfather) who in turn heard the story from Solon. Solon was an Athenian lawmaker who lived in the 7th century BCE. Solon travelled to other cities to gather information on laws and while in Egypt he learned of the legend of a lost continent from an Egyptian priest. Solon was the source of the information, and he was hailed as a great Athenian and not known for exaggeration.

15th Century Latin translation of Plato's Timaeus Wikipedia

15th Century Latin translation of Plato’s Timaeus
Wikipedia

The Timaeus script mentions Atlantis briefly, yet is a significant part as it refers to the meeting between Solon and the Egyptian priest and a descriptive passage on Atlantis. This passage alludes to the many great floods the planet suffered which may have come from an ancient Sumer legend. There is a reference the Egyptians and Athenians share a common goddess after whom the city was named after. The priest goes on, mentions the war between Atlantis and Athens and the eventual destruction of Atlantis.

The Critias text is much more comprehensive discussion on Atlantis, giving specific details of the island, the people, how they lived and technology used. There are references to the number of kings, types of animals and various flora, and the structure of buildings. He even mentioned hot and cold running water!

The information written as dialogues came from true accounts however, Plato did embellish as did Homer. He was also making a point as to no matter how powerful a city or country may be, hubris will get you in the end.

In my next post, I will look at the many colourful characters who wrote about Atlantis. Thank you for tuning in and reading.

Just as a side note, Plato does make an appearance in book 2 in my series Servant of the Gods.

As always, your comments are valued and welcomed.

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Historical fiction fantasist Luciana Cavallaro, a secondary teacher, meanders from contemporary life to delve into the realms of mythology. Subscribe to her FREE short story.

Sources:
Atlantis – Plato’s Atlantis From the Timaeus By N.S. Gill
Timaeus and Critias, The Mysterious and Unexplained, Active Mind Site

18 thoughts on “Plato’s Atlantis

  1. Luc , I am already fascinated by the atlantis story so I need not tell you how keenly I am following your posts as a fellow traveler in your progression towards more rewarding facets and newer findings….have a great week end and best wishes…raj .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post dear Luciana… I much enjoyed the reading… As far as I know those two platonic dialogues were from 360 B.c and I would say that Plato’s ideas regarding Atlantic might lead us to a sort of utopic perfect city as he stated that the founders of Atlantis were half god and half human until they began to change and greed and power slowly corrupted them. The end of their civilization due to natural causes would have been probably a punishment coming from Zeus himself…
    I am looking forward to your next post, as this one was truly interesting.
    All my best wishes to you cara Luciana. Aquileana 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ciao cara Aquileana,
      It has been said Plato’s tale of Atlantis is about a Utopian civilisation and their ultimate demise due to greed and power as you stated. I’d also believe he took the story from an older legend, one based on fact. I guess we will never know the true reason behind his dialogues, except it keeps people talking 😀
      Thank you for the wonderful and insightful comment Aquileana.
      ciao
      Luciana 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Luciana,

    It is exciting that you are starting this new series on the lost continent of Atlantis. This mythology has conjured so many images of what this technologically advanced civilization may have been like. I’ve even heard stories that Atlantis was a lost continent close to the Americas. Look forward to your next posts as you uncover the mystery as to where this civilization may have existed. Thanks for sharing.

    Best wishes,
    Linnea

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Linnea,

      There are so many theories as there is locations. It’s quite extraordinary how one legend can stir people’s imaginations and some are rather extreme conclusions.
      Atlantis close to the Americas is a popular theory and not too far-fetched. There has been recent developments as to where Atlantis once stood, quite exciting!

      Thanks Linnea
      Luciana

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Bella, I have always been fascinated with all things ancient. To me, it makes sense that an advanced civilization existed. The existence of inexplicable monuments, certain man-made marvels and archaeological finds pertaining to our ancient and prehistory, are proof that long forgotten advanced civilizations existed.

    Although we have no physical proof of Atlantis, I believe they had taken technology to very advanced stages, well beyond what exists on our planet today. To me this translates to its inhabitants being otherworldly. Why Atlantis disappeared, we’ll never know.

    The fact that you have chosen to write a book series incorporating this mysteriously intriguing time is brilliant!

    I look forward to your next post.
    Fino ad allora …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ciao Bella, There is so much that is still to be discovered which is wonderful. I agree there once was an advanced civilisation and all was lost during the many floods and fires that ravaged the planet. If those events didn’t happen, we’d be much further ahead in many aspects of life. I guess it is the Universe’s way of keeping balance.

      Long lost civilisations and languages, what more could one ask for? The story of Atlantis shows how much we still need to learn.

      grazie
      Luciana

      Like

  5. Excellent! I am looking forward to following the Atlantis Series, L!! I studied Plato in high school and adored learning about him and Socrates. I did wonder how much was embellished or not… I’m fascinated by this post and by what I have a feeling is to come from you here! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This is such a fascinating topic. I was so excited to see in your last post how you have been inspired by Charles Berlitz’s book! There is a very well read copy of Berlitz’s book in my house too!

    History has so many unexplained chapters. Instead of seeing a linear progression, maybe we instinctively know that civilisations rise and fall, including Atlantis, the greatest of them all. Can’t wait to see what you do with this in your fiction 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Charles Berlitz’s book certainly stirred my imagination and hope to capture a little of it in my book.

      I don’t think there’s anything linear in our progression, there’s too many unanswered questions and like you beautifully wrote “History has so many unexplained chapters”. I do believe cycles are repeated, theories are improved upon as we learn and discover more. Perhaps that’s the way it is supposed to be.
      Thanks MC 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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