Atlantis

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  • Topic: Atlantis, Plato, Timaeus
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  • Published : March 10, 2013
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* Atlantis: The Lost Continent

By: Rondave Gabriel B. Malpaya
IV - Solidarity

Introduction

For the past few centuries, Atlantis has been the subject of countless legends about an advanced civilization situated on an island that was destroyed or lost. The stories about the legendary city were first mentioned in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias, where it's been said that it was struck by an earthquake or a tsunami about 9,000 years before the time in which Plato had written about it. The story claims that Atlantis was somewhere outside the "Pillars of Hercules". According to Plato, the story originated from Ancient Egyptian priests.

While some people believe that Plato's claims of Atlantis were plausible, others believe that the stories are fictions made up to serve the purposes of Plato's dialogues. There have been hundreds - perhaps thousands - of proposed geographical locations for the legendary city of Atlantis. Some are more-or-less serious attempts at legitimate scholarly or archeological works; others have been made by psychic or other pseudoscientific means. As the continental drift theory of the past has been consequently proven and accepted over the past few years, most "Lost continent" theories of Atlantis have been conclusively falsified.

Most cultures have "lost civilization" myths. In some cases, it has been argued that there is a common historical event or real "lost civilization" at the root of some or all of these legends, but there is considerable disagreement between the competing hypotheses. It may be that these myths were derived from many different historical events, and are just only incorporated by modern theorists because of their uncanny similarities. It may also be that these legends are entirely fictitious, but for some reason have became popular in many cultures over the years.

What do we know about Atlantis?

Timaeus and Critias, two of Plato's famous dialogues, are the only written records which specifically refer to Atlantis' existence. The dialogues were written transcripts of conversations between Socrates, Hermocrates, Timaeus, and Critias. Apparently in response to Socrates' previous talk about ideal societies, Timaeus and Critias agree to entertain Socrates with a tale that is "not a fiction but a true story." The story is about the conflict between the ancient Athenians and the Atlanteans 9,000 years ahead of Plato's time. Knowledge of the distant past was apparently forgotten by the Athenians of Plato's day, the story of Atlantis was conveyed to Solon by Egyptian priests. Solon passed the tale to Dropides, the great-grandfather of Critias. Critias learned it from his grandfather of the same name, son of Dropides

Cast of Characters

All of the men, except for Timaeus, who have taken part in or are mentioned in Timaeus and Critias are known to have actually existed in ancient Greece. Records of their lives and deeds have been recorded in other writings from the time period.

However there are two people named Critias related to the story of Atlantis and this can lead to some confusion. There is the Critias who had actually taken part in the dialogues, while the other Critias is actually the grandfather of the Critias of the dialogues. This elder Critias told the story of Atlantis to his grandson, of the same name, who then conveyed the story to Socrates in the dialogues.

Those who actually take part in the dialogues:

Timaeus - there is no historical record of him.

Critias - Plato's great grandfather.

Socrates - Plato's mentor and teacher. He was condemned to death by authorities in Athens for "corrupting the moral of Athenian youth"; He lived from 469 to 399 BC.

Hermocrates - statesman and soldier from Syracuse.

Those mentioned in the dialogues:

Solon - Athenian traveler, poet, and lawgiver who lived from approximately 638-559 BC. According to Plato it was he who learned of the story of Atlantis from an...
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