The four persons appearing in those two dialogues are the politiciansCritias and Hermocratesas
well as the philosophers SocratesandTimaeus of Locri,although only Critias speaks of Atlantis.
While most likely all of these people actually lived, these dialogues, written as if recorded, mayhave been the invention of Plato. In his works Plato makes extensive use of the Socraticdialoguesin order to discuss contrary positions within the context of a supposition.The
begins with an introduction, followed by an account of the creations and structure of the universe and ancient civilizations. In the introduction, Socrates muses about the perfectsociety, described in Plato's
(ca. 380 BC), and wonders if he and his guests mightrecollect a story which exemplifies such a society. Critias mentions an allegedly historical tale thatwould make the perfect example, and follows by describing Atlantis as is recorded in the
.In his account, ancient Athens seems to represent the "perfect society" and Atlantis its opponent,representing the very antithesis of the "perfect" traits described in the
. Critias claims thathis accounts of ancient Athens and Atlantis stem from a visit toEgyptby the legendary Athenianlawgiver Solonin the 6th century BC. In Egypt, Solon met a priest of Sais, who translated the
history of ancient Athens and Atlantis, recorded on papyri inEgyptian hieroglyphs, intoGreek.
According to Plutarch, Solon met with "Psenophis of Heliopolis, and Sonchis the Saite, the most
learned of all the priests";
Plutarch refers here to events that would have happened fivecenturies before he wrote of them.According to Critias, theHellenicgods of old divided the land so that each god might own alot;Poseidonwas appropriately, and to his liking, bequeathed the island of Atlantis. The islandwas larger than Ancient Libya and Asia Minor combined,
but it afterwards was sunk byanearthquakeand became an impassable mud shoal, inhibiting travel to any part of the ocean.The Egyptians, Plato asserted, described Atlantis as an island comprising mostly mountains inthe northern portions and along the shore, and encompassing a great plain of an oblong shape inthe south "extending in one direction three thousand
[about 555 km; 345 mi], but acrossthe center inland it was two thousand stadia [about 370 km; 230 mi]." Fifty stadia [9 km; 6 mi]from the coast was a mountain that was low on all sides...broke it off all round about
... thecentral island itself was five stades in diameter [about 0.92 km; 0.57 mi].
In Plato's myth, Poseidon fell in love with Cleito, the daughter of Evenor and Leucippe, who borehim five pairs of male twins. The eldest of these, Atlas, was made rightful king of the entire islandand the ocean (called the Atlantic Ocean in his honor), and was given the mountain of his birthand the surrounding area as his fiefdom.Atlas's twin Gadeirus, or Eumelus in Greek, was given
the extremity of the island towards the Pillars of Hercules.
The other four pairs of twins—Ampheres and Evaemon, Mneseusand Autochthon, Elasippus and Mestor, and Azaes and
Diaprepes—were also given "rule over many men, and a large territory."