Atlantis is the name of an island appearing in the writings of Plato. Ancient Athens was supposedly able to repel attacks by Atlantis. The story concludes with Atlantis falling out of favor with the gods and submerging into the Atlantic Ocean.
The story is generally considered to be an invention by Plato, in order to illustrate his concept of an ideal state, but it has also been argued that he may have been inspired by earlier myths. Various locations and inspirations for Atlantis have therefore been proposed. Atlantis has also inspired later fictional and esoteric writings.
- Plato (427 BC - 348 BC) describes Atlantis in his dialogues Timaeus and Critias, which are the key sources.
- According to Plato, Atlantis was transmitted to the ancient Greeks through Solon the Wise from Egyptian priests.
- "Solon's manuscript" was passed down to Dropides and his descendants until it reached Critias the Younger (a speaker in Plato's dialogues who recounts the story of Atlantis).
- An earlier 5th century BC (lost) poem entitled Atlantis was written by Hellanicus of Mytilene, although its relevence is disputed.
- Proclus' commentary on Timaeus contains the views of various ancient philosophers on Atlantis, including Crantor.
- Posidonius (135 – 51 BC) writes that the Atlanteans (presumed survivals) migrated after the destruction of Atlantis.
Plato describes Atlantis as having been circular in design, and an island "larger [or greater]" than Libya and Asia combined". It is described as sitting in the Atlantic, derived from the name Atlas, a son of Poseidon. The geneaology and foundation myth of the Atlanteans is discussed in Critias. The Atlanteans are described as having an advanced settlement, who conquered surrounding peoples but who were "halted" by the prehistoric Athenians. The island Atlantis is described as having later been destroyed "in a single day and night of misfortune" through a violent earthquake or flood 9000 years before Solon. Plato summarises as thus:
"...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 Greeks call, 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 to the whole of the continent over against them which encompasses that veritable ocean. For all that we have here, lying within the mouth of which we speak, is evidently a haven having a narrow entrance; but that yonder 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 marvelous power, which held sway over all the island, and over many other islands also and parts of the continent."
- Ancient History Encyclopedia: Atlantis
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Atlantis
- Encyclopedia Britannica 1911 Edition: Atlantis
- Encyclopedia.com: Atlantis