The myth of the lost civilization of Atlantis has attracted the attention and
speculation of several eminent personalities over the centuries
The legend of Atlantis, after several years' dormancy in imagination of the
broader public, has begun to make something of a comeback in recent years and many places in the world want Atlantis history for themselves.
1. All the evidence shows, that Plato's Atlantis
account is beyond a reasonable doubt entirely fictional-a utopian myth
concocted to vividly illustrate Plato's political philosophy.
Plato's dialogues expound his philosophy and have some peculiar features. One
of these features is the use of extraordinary tales asserted as truth in order
to vividly express his ideas. Towards the end of the Gorgias, for example,
Socrates retells a story of the Isles of the Blessed and Tartarus (Greek
versions of Heaven and Hell), and prefaces it thus: "Listen, then, as
story-tellers say, to a very pretty tale, which I dare say that you may be
disposed to regard as a fable only, but which, as I believe, is a true tale,
for I mean to speak the truth".
The Timaeus, as mentioned above, is the
sequel to the Republic-Plato's major dialogue on the nature of the ideal
society and its governance. In laying out the practices of forming the ideal
state and citizenry, Plato discusses the tools to be employed in education of
the youth. One tool is the use of totally fabricated stories, presented to the
youth as true history.
In addition, In Plato's own time two cities near Athens were
destroyed by giant waves, sinking coastal land, and earthquakes. He did
not have to depend on 1000-year-old memories for the idea that a city
could disappear beneath the sea. As a
soldier he surely had heard that a year before he was born, an
earthquake and gigantic waves destroyed ships and a military outpost
that the city of Athens built on the small island of Atalant?. This
area continues to experience a sinking coastline, the last sudden
sinking happening during a 1894 earthquake. When Plato was 55, an earthquake destroyed the city of Helice, only 40
miles from Athens. Parts of the coastline sunk enough to submerge the
trees that grew there. It was said that the waves that smashed into
Helice swept the city so clean that people who arrived to bury the dead
could find no one left to bury.
Plato wrote about Atlantis when he was over 70, at the end of a rich
life that would have given him plenty of material to draw upon. The
Atlantis story was probably a combination of legends and bits of
history woven together? Whatever it took to create a memorable lesson.
2. Kritias was quite clear about date of Atlantis (9000
years before his time).
3. Kritias was also clear about the
location: it lay in the ocean outside of the Pillars of Hercules. The claim of Atlantis's location is fairly precise: The Mediterranean is the
"haven" with a "narrow entrance," i.e., the pillars of Hercules. Atlantis lies
outside of the Mediterranean "at a distant point" in the Atlantic
4. The size is wrong. Atlantis was a continent, not an island, like Santorini was.
5. The Minoans did not disappear after the
Santorini disaster. Egyptian records show normal trade continued with
the Minoans long after the Santorini explosion.