What can we learn from the myth of Atlantis?

One of the strongest and most compelling messages in Plato’s dialogues, Timaeus and Critias, was about human nature. He uses his former teacher Socrates as the pivotal character in his dialogues, to question the students on many facets of life. In a way, Socrates is the moral compass in the story by which his words of wisdom seek to provoke and elicit thoughtful responses. This oratorical strategy no doubt would have compelled and evoked passionate discussions, which could also be the reason why Plato did not finish the dialogue of Critias.critias

There’s a fabulous passage in Critias with regards to the Atlanteans, which would fit in with current world issues:

For many generations, as long as the divine nature lasted in them, they were obedient to the laws, and well-affectioned towards the god… they possessed true and in every way great spirits, uniting gentleness with wisdom in the various chances of life…
…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… grew visibly debased…

The Atlanteans were made in the image of the gods, much like the Golden Age of Man however, unlike those in the Golden Age, the Atlanteans were not idle and were intelligent. They had fortitude, a healthy respect for the environment and animals, and of course venerated the gods. With this approach to life, they prospered and lived well.

"The Golden Age (fresco by Pietro da Cortona)". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Golden_Age_(fresco_by_Pietro_da_Cortona).jpg#/media/File:The_Golden_Age_(fresco_by_Pietro_da_Cortona).jpg

“The Golden Age (fresco by Pietro da Cortona)”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Golden_Age_(fresco_by_Pietro_da_Cortona).jpg#/media/File:The_Golden_Age_(fresco_by_Pietro_da_Cortona).jpg

It’s the next line which I feel says it all and reflects what is happening in the world today.

“…when the divine portion began to fade away”
I see this as turning away from belief and changing the meaning to suit one’s own political agenda and using religion as a ploy.

“…became diluted”
The Atlanteans forgot who their progenitor was, mixed with mortals and saw a different way of living. They craved what others had and saw how different their lives could be if they changed the way they think and behave. They too, could be powerful and rich, regardless of how they attain it. We don’t have to look far to see how people change the meaning and context of something to suit their purpose or agenda.

“…human nature got the upper hand”
Here we have is the classic power-trip, driven by greed, possession and domination. The Altanteans became corrupted and turned away from all they believed in: virtue, kindness, and astuteness. The adverse elements have been repeated throughout history, via various individuals and groups of people who are driven by their perverted philosophy, debased behaviour and desire for control.

I believe Plato’s reason for telling the story of Atlantis was one of caution. If people continue to behave in a contrary manner, and seek to hurt others to attain their desires, then they shall be destroyed. The Atlanteans became obsessed with wealth and domination and were punished for it. Unhealthy obsession cannot end well, even though it may appear to be strong and succeeding. Therefore, in light of Plato’s teachings, a disastrous outcome for these malefic people is their destiny.

"Operation Upshot-Knothole - Badger 001" by Federal Government of the United States - This image is available from the National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Site Office Photo Library under number XX-34.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Operation_Upshot-Knothole_-_Badger_001.jpg#/media/File:Operation_Upshot-Knothole_-_Badger_001.jpg

“Operation Upshot-Knothole – Badger 001” by Federal Government of the United States – This image is available from the National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Site Office Photo Library under number XX-34.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Operation_Upshot-Knothole_-_Badger_001.jpg#/media/File:Operation_Upshot-Knothole_-_Badger_001.jpg

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

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12 thoughts on “What can we learn from the myth of Atlantis?

  1. There is an old saying, the antiquity of which may or may not be as ancient as Plato’s dialogues. It says, ‘where wealth accumulates, civilisations decay’. The moral depravity, unbridled corruption and lust for power that may have contributed to the eclipse of Atlantis ironically rings true even today. How else can one explain the current plight of Greece, a country that once was wealthy and rich, and a civilisation that truly enriched the world in multifarious ways? The reports speak of over two hundred thousand people having fled the country since 2010, in search of greener pastures in different parts of Europe. While it looks like Atlantis was wiped away by natural forces, greed, wanton negligence and endemic corruption will engulf Greece. In all hope and probability, the ongoing crisis may be part of the proverbial churning whereafter greater good will eventually prevail…best wishes, Luc..xx.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I must write that quote down for it does reflect the recent economic issues. I find it ironic how the story of Atlantis and that of Greece’s plight are so entwined. The transgressions and lessons of the past have not been learned.
      Thank you, Raj. I do enjoy reading your comments xx

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Luciana,

    Thank you for sharing your thought-provoking post. As you indicate, ancient mythology and history serve as warnings to modern civilization as to what could happen from decay within. Another civilization that was brought down by internal decay was Rome. Dark Ages followed the collapse of the Minoan and Roman Empires, and it could certainly happen again. As George Santayana said, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’

    I’ve enjoyed your thought-provoking series on Atlantis. Have a great weekend!

    Regards,
    Linnea

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Linnea,
      It seems we are destined to keep repeating the sins of the past. It still baffles me as to why, yet it does come down to the human element. While individuals/people covet power and money, the wars and economic crises will continue.
      Thank you so much. I look forward to reading your thoughtful comments. Have a great week 😀
      cheers,
      Luciana

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Luciano,

    Great post. Thank you for expanding and contextualizing what Plato had written in Critias.

    But how could a society or civilisation build internal structures that would guard against all the evils that are apprehended? The very fact that Homo Sapien as a species, is conditioned to improve its own lot, and remains mentally equipped to do so, would in itself bring in all the evils of corruption, aggrandising power etc over time, would it not? The best case economic model for ensuring improved lot for the people, also ushers in wealth and the associated problems of disparity and so on.

    So, what could be a sustainable way forward that would balance human development with maintenance of morality and human values?

    Shakti

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Shakti,
      Thank you for visiting and your illuminating comment. You’ve raised interesting issues and one I think will continue to plague humanity. For all we know that is right and moral, people still harbour the desire for money and power and attribute ills with it. I will say not everyone is that way inclined, there are many good people out there.
      How can we change something that is systemic and ingrained in our society? I’d like to say, let’s get rid of these maligned individuals, but that’s not right either. The laws, economic policies and political systems need to work together to change these attitudes, although, it is so entrenched I don’t think it will ever happen.
      Luciana

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  4. Cara Luciana, 😉 🍃
    A wonderful post… I am truly enjoying this saga on the Atlantis….
    Plato’s account is remarkable… And you are right, it could perfectly apply to other sociological contexts such as our owns nowadays, particularly if we keep in mind the effects of the decay of materialist societies and so on…
    The excerpts you have highlighted are eloquent and speak out loud
    “…when the divine portion began to fade away”
    As you summed it up: “Here we have is the classic power-trip, driven by greed, possession and domination. The Atlanteans became corrupted and turned away from all they believed in: virtue, kindness, and astuteness”.
    I was also thinking about the metaphor of the Fall, same one which appears in the Bible!.
    Great post, cara! … Best wishes to you, always. Aquileana ⭐

    Liked by 1 person

    • Buongiorno Cara Aquileana,
      Materialism and capitalism threaten the moral fibre by which we live. If it continues which I think it will as governments are getting revenue from these capitalist ventures, it will be our “Atlantis”.
      Thank you for your amazing and informative comment.
      Have a great weekend.
      ciao and best wishes
      Luciana 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Another great post, Luciana. Thought provoking as are the above comments. Perhaps aspiring politicians should be made to study Ancient history and ancient Greek myths before being allowed to enter parliament…but then again, if Australia is anything to go by, the intelligence of most politicians leaves a lot to be desired, and the valuable lessons would be lost!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Anne. That would be a great prerequisite but like you stated, intelligence seems to be wanting. The lessons are valuable, yet those who should be heeding them are ignoring what can be learned.
      We are destined to repeat the sins of the past.

      Liked by 1 person

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