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Published by Muhammad Nomaan ❊

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Published by: Muhammad Nomaan ❊ on Jul 04, 2010
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(in Greek,
ς ν
σος, "island of Atlas") is alegendary islandfirst mentioned inPlato's dialogues
.In Plato's account, Atlantis was a naval power  lying "in front of the Pillars of Hercules" that conquered many parts of  Western EuropeandAfrica 9,000 years before the time of Solon,or  approximately 9600 BC. After a failed attempt to invadeAthens, Atlantis sank into the ocean "in asingle day and night of misfortune".Scholars dispute whether and how much Plato's story or account was inspired by older traditions.Some scholars argue Plato drew upon memories of past events such as theThera eruptionor theTrojan War , while others insist that he took inspiration from contemporary events like thedestruction of Helikein 373 BC
or the failed Athenian invasion of Sicilyin 415–413 BC. The possible existence of a genuine Atlantis was discussed throughoutclassical antiquity, but itwas usually rejected and occasionally parodied by later authors. AsAlan Cameronstates: "It isonly in modern times that people have taken the Atlantis story seriously; no one did so inantiquity".
While little known during theMiddle Ages, the story of Atlantis was rediscoveredby Humanistsin theEarly Modernperiod. Plato's description inspired theutopianworks of  severalRenaissancewriters, like Francis Bacon's "New Atlantis". Atlantis inspires today's literature, from science fiction to comic books to films, its name having become a byword for anyand all supposed advanced prehistoric lost civilizations.
Plato's account
A 15th-century Latin translation of Plato's
Plato's dialogues
, written in 360 BC, contain the earliest references toAtlantis. For unknown reasons, Plato never completed
; however, the scholar BenjaminJowett, among others, argues that Plato originally planned a third dialoguetitled
.John V. Luceassumes that Plato, after describing the origin of the world andmankind in
and the allegorical perfect society of ancient Athensand its successful defense against an antagonistic Atlantis in
, would have made the strategy of the Greekcivilizationduring their conflict with thePersians a subject of discussion in the
. Platointroduced Atlantis in
For it is related in our records how once upon a time your State stayed the course of a mighty host, which,starting from a distant point in the Atlantic ocean, was insolently advancing to attack the whole of Europe,and Asia to boot. For the ocean there was at that time navigable; for in front of the mouth which you Greekscall, as you say, 'the pillars of Heracles,' there lay an island which was larger than Libya and Asia together;and it was possible for the travelers of that time to cross from it to the other islands, and from the islands tothe whole of the continent over against them which encompasses that veritable ocean. For all that we havehere, lying within the mouth of which we speak, is evidently a haven having a narrow entrance; but thatyonder is a real ocean, and the land surrounding it may most rightly be called, in the fullest and truest sense,a continent. Now in this island of Atlantis there existed a confederation of kings, of great and marvelouspower, which held sway over all the island, and over many other islands also and parts of the continent.
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."

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