A lost continent that may have existed many thousands of years ago and has become the topic of numerous studies, books and movies, is still to be found: the lost continent of Atlantis.
The legend of Atlantis owes its existence to the great Greek philosopher Plato. In two of his writings, the dialogs of Timaeus and Critias, are the only accounts of the legendary island of Atlantis. In those texts, written around 350 BCE, there are short descriptions of Atlantis as part of a story about the lawmaker of Athens, Solon, which took place in Egypt.
Let me begin by observing first of all, that nine thousand was the sum of years which had elapsed since the war which was said to have taken place between those who dwelt outside the Pillars of Heracles and all who dwelt within them; this war I am going to describe. Of the combatants on the one side, the city of Athens was reported to have been the leader and to have fought out the war; the combatants on the other side were commanded by the kings of Atlantis, which, as was saying, was an island greater in extent than Libya and Asia, and when afterwards sunk by an earthquake, became an impassable barrier of mud to voyagers sailing from hence to any part of the ocean.
Plato Dialogues, Critias
According to those texts, the high Egyptian priest of Sais spoke to Solon about Atlantis, a continent that existed more than 10,000 years ago outside the Pillars of Heracles, which is now considered to be Gibraltar. The Timaeus dialogs placed the island in the Atlantic Ocean; therefore, the initial hypothesis is that Atlantis was somewhere between Europe and America, though many other suggestions have been proposed, some of which place Atlantis in Antarctica, Greece and Indonesia.
According to the legend, Atlantis was the home of the god Poseidon, the place that was initially given to him when the gods divided the world between themselves and each ruled his or her own territory. Poseidon formed the island and lived there with his wife and children. Poseidon created alternate round zones of water and land, so that the centre of the island was surrounded by water and not to be accessible by man. He had 10 children and thus divided Atlantis in 10 portions. Atlas was Poseidon’s first born son, and Atlantis got the name from him.
Atlantis was an advanced civilization, rich and prosperous with everything in abundance—a paradise, according to Plato. The inhabitants were a great power who opposed even Europe and Asia, and were able to navigate the sea. A great fight is mentioned between the goddess Athena and the Athenians, and Poseidon and the Atlantians. With the help of Athena, the Athenians managed to win the battle and protect Athens against the Atlantians.
Generations lived one after another, with every king better than the one before. They reached the peak of their society, and attained very high spiritual values; but human nature eventually got the upper hand. The values of the Atlantians began to deteriorate, their behaviour changed, and they even defied the Gods. It was Zeus who, seeing how an honourable race became corrupted, decided to punish them, gathering the other gods to decide their fate. The rest of the dialog of Critias is lost; however, the end is mentioned in Timaeus, where in one night violent earthquakes and floods punish Atlantis and the whole island disappeared into the depths of the sea.
There are arguments as to whether Plato’s references to Atlantis are literal or allegorical, considering that references to it only exist in his work and nobody else’s, such as by the historian Herodotus who visited both Egypt and Solon. Therefore, historians concur that the description of Atlantis might have been the description of an ideal city/society.
If what Plato mentions is true, then do we have ‘gods’ in flesh and blood, creating the continent of Atlantis, populating it and helping it to become an advanced civilization? Gods also destroyed Atlantis once it became ‘corrupted’ and its inhabitants began misusing their powers, defying the gods and their rules. It cannot be clearer that once again we have references to supreme beings, or gods, with unique powers, wisdom and technology—the same beings that later on become mythology and, in one way or another, abandon humanity…or did they?
Even if there are discoveries that have been attributed to ancient Atlantis, it officially remains a legend waiting to be proved as history.