Too fantastic to be true? Perhaps not.

Legends and mythologies have a basis in fact, the nexus from which ancient cultures tried to make sense of their world. It was a way to explain decisions and actions a person makes and to give guidance. Long before the bible, these tales served to provide instructions and warnings to communities. For example take Herakles and his 12 labours. A son of a god to a mortal woman (sound familiar??) who is condemned by a jealous goddess, influenced to kill his family, then told by the Delphic Oracle he must seek out the King of Tiryns to atone for his terrible deeds. Did a man called Herakles exist? Then one must ask the question as to whether Jesus existed. If the answer to the latter is yes, then couldn’t Herakles also be a real person?

One of the most famous depictions of Heracles, originally by Lysippos (Marble, Roman copy called Hercules Farnese, 216  Courtesy of Wikipedia

One of the most famous depictions of Heracles, originally by Lysippos (Marble, Roman copy called Hercules Farnese, 216
Courtesy of Wikipedia

My point is no legend comes from nothing. There was a source from which the tale was borne. Plato went into great detail to describe Atlantis, from the geography of the land, the animals, the skilled artisans and even a peek at the social structure of the people. Of course he may have elaborated on aspects of his writings, we all do that, but as any writer knows your story stems from fact. Research is a major part of my writing process, as is with a majority of writers, and Plato heard the legend while a child. Being the intelligent person he was, he would have sought further information before writing his account of Atlantis.

An artist's conception shows the city of Atlantis as it has been envisioned in legend. National Geographic http://www.nbcnews.com/id/42072469/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/lost-city-atlantis-believed-found-spain/#.VTcNeNKqpBc

An artist’s conception shows the city of Atlantis as it has been envisioned in legend.
National Geographic. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/42072469/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/lost-city-atlantis-believed-found-spain/#.VTcNeNKqpBc

According to sources I’ve read, Plato never finished his moralistic tale of Atlantis for it was assumed he realised he was retelling Homer’s Iliad. Both Troy and Atlantis were destroyed by a single event, and yes, survivors of each managed to escape the atrocities. However, that is where the similarities (for me that is) ends. Besides the obvious cause for their downfall, each had a different path. One race found a new home and grew from strength to strength to become an Empire and the other fizzled out and replaced by a stronger force.

I think Plato never finished his parable of Atlantis because during his time, no one knew exactly what happened to the Atlanteans. [Much like the Sea People. Who were they and where did they come from? There is no hard evidence to explain who this elusive group were.] As Plato could not draw a satisfactory conclusion, he stopped writing. However the fate of the Atlanteans was similar to that of the Minoans.

Following the destructive tsunamis, conquered by the Mycenaeans and then the subsequent Dark Ages (which affected the surrounding nations: Hittites, Phoenicians, Canaans, Assyrians, Mittani and Kassites) the Minoans never recovered. They faded from existence long before Plato’s time. Evidence suggests the Sea People raided these regions and possibly later integrated with these once powerful empires. Therefore, is it possible due to the smelting pot of cultures, Plato and those before him or later, had no recourse to determine what happened to the Minoans? That this part of history dissolved into the Dark Ages that the Mediterranean empires were plunged? It certainly could explain why Plato didn’t finish his tale.

Thank you for visiting and reading.

As always, your comments are valued and welcomed.

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 http://eepurl.com/bhESs1

Reference:
Theories About Atlantis http://www.crystalinks.com/atlantistheories.html

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9 thoughts on “Too fantastic to be true? Perhaps not.

  1. Legends and mythologies can indeed be traced to factual sources for its inspiration, either partially or in its entirety. Events, places and people of last 2500 years have been documented in the form of recorded history, which is not to mean that events and stories predating such history can only have fictitious value lacking veracity. For example, events and places finding mention in the Indian epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana are all traceable and relate to readily identifiable geographical regions in the Indian sub-continent and Sri Lanka. Indian astrologists, based on timescales in the above epics, have cast the horoscopes of Rama, Sita and Krishna, clearly pointing to their actual existence on the face of the earth, in much the same way as Buddha or Christ or the legion of spiritual figures that followed in various times and climes. Aesop was a slave in ancient Greece of several thousand years ago. The hundreds of fables that he spun to highlight moral lessons existed in scattered and unwritten form, and these were collated by a Christian missionary a few millenniums later. All these would corroborate the view that everything originates from something or someone, based on events and places, or intuitive flashes experienced by people who actually existed…best wishes, Luc…

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    • It is extraordinary with such richness and diversity of world mythologies and elements of fact within, I find it sad how some people discount their veracity. I read a book by Jonathan Black ‘The Sacred History of the World’ and it discusses the origins of religion from myth. You may be interested in reading it.
      Thank you for your awesome comment Raj 😀

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  2. The Minoan empire is an interesting study. It seemed they were greatly affected by the eruption of Terra on Santorini. They sure left some fantastic artwork…the bull jumping. Thank you for an enlightening post!

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    • They certainly did! and the palace at Knossos is something to see. They were quite sophisticated compared to other blossoming cultures. I often imagine what the western world would be like if they hadn’t been affected by the eruption or overthrown by marauders.
      Thank you for your wonderful comment Susan 😀

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  3. Great post, Luciana.
    I totally agree with the basis in fact idea. Having studied in the realm of Arthurian Studies and Greek Mythology, I’ve seen too many people whose sole purpose, it seems, is to disprove things. They forget that these grand legends have grown out of seedlings of fact. Every legend has its basis if fact. And the archaeology doesn’t lie. Henrich Schliemann, despite his brutalistic archaeological methods, uncovered Troy, Tyrins, and Mycenae, places that many believed were mere fancy. It may well be the same with Atlantis, and this is not something to disprove, but rather be excited about! There are clues out there. We just need to find them 🙂 Archaeology, history, literature, toponymics, folklore, and art are all part of the equation. What an adventure!
    Looking forward to the next post!
    Adam Alexander Haviaras

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    • I’m with you Adam, it is exciting and what a find it would be if they did locate Atlantis.
      A pity Schliemann destroyed so much in his pursuit to find Troy, Tiryns and Mycenae. Fortunately for us he didn’t dig up Knossos! Clues in myths and ancient tales was what led many to find the truth of ancient history.
      Thanks Adam for the amazing comment.
      cheers
      Luciana

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  4. I pretty much agree with you when you state above that the reason why Plato never finished his account on the Atlantis was because by that moment (meaning 360 BC) no one knew what happened to the Atlanteans. As a matter of fact he described Atlantis, in his two dialogues “Timaeus” (*) and “Critias” (**) but doesn’t take it further…

    There might be many plausible causes as to why Atlantis vanished…
    I am with you… I think an earthquake or a tsunami do both make sense as to possible reasons
    And yet, it is quite ironic that they could have disappeared due to a Tsunami, being Poseidon a Protector God of Atlantes ( “And Poseidon, receiving for his lot the island of Atlantis, begat children by a mortal woman, and settled them in a part of the island, which I will describe”… says Plato in Critias)…

    Excellent post cara Luciana. Molto buona giornata. Aquileana ⭐

    Atlantis:
    ~Excerpt from Plato’s “Timaeus” http://unxplained-factor.com/timaeus.htm
    ~Excerpt from Plato’s “Critias” http://unxplained-factor.com/critias.htm

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    • I wonder if Plato worked out what you and those of us interested in the myth of Atlantis about the dual role of Poseidon in their fate. It is ironic as you mentioned and but as you’ve written in your amazing posts, the gods do as they please to whom ever they want.
      Mille graze cara Aquileana.
      Luciana 😀

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