The lost City-Atlantis
Atlantis (Lost City) is a legendary city described by the Greek philosopher Plato (429-347 BC). Atlantis, an incredibly wealthy and advanced civilization, is trapped in the sea and lost forever in a story that captivates the reader. Regardless of important information from archaeological findings or sources besides Plato, this myth raises more questions than answers.
Did Atlantis really exist? Was the story based on the ancient Minoan civilization? Was the catastrophe that destroyed the city the explosion of Thera in Santorini in the Aegean, or was the whole myth a fiction that Plato built to show the glory of his own city, Athens, or something that showed what happened to cities that did not accept the rule of law and became greedy over time? Was it just an example?
If it was indeed founded, who founded Atlantis? Why do we know so little about him? Where is it now? These are all questions that are endlessly sought after by scholars and history buffs, and to which no satisfactory answer can be found.
The story of Atlantis first appears in Plato's Timeos, one of his later works. The title of Plato's work called Dialogue comes from a hero, a Southern Italian Pythagorean philosopher, who discussed the soul with Socrates. However, this particular dialogue is more of a misleading exercise than a philosophical dialogue, and includes an extremely long monologue on the creation of the world in Plato's Timeos.
Philosophical ideas are open to discussion. However, the issue of what Plato's ideas were and who these speakers were in his dialogues raise questions that will be questioned for centuries. The passage in Atlantis is actually narrated early in the dialogue by Kritias, a Sophist who lived between 460 and 403 BC. In particular, Kritias, like all other sophists (as Plato also explained in the Phaedrus dialogue), exaggerates his ideas in order to attract the attention of the audience and convey the essence of these ideas to the audience.
His ideas are all blurred and nothing is clear. Whatever literary means are necessary to express philosophical ideas that are difficult to understand and to make them more understandable should be used. Maybe it is necessary to read the legend of Atlantis with this thought.
The story of Kritias is introduced by another visitor, Hemocrates (a historical general from Syracuse), who forces Kritias to tell his "prehistoric" story. Kritias begins by emphasizing that his story is true, and the Greek statesman and poet Solon, who lived between 640 BC and 560 BC, also vouched for him. Kritias admits that his story is "very strange, but every word of it is true".
He says Solon told this story to his friend Dropides, Kritias' great-grandfather, and bequeathed it to his future grandchildren. We are told that Solon learned this story during his travels in Egypt, especially by priest scientists in Sais, and wanted to put the story in writing, but never had the opportunity to do so.
Kritias wanted to tell this story because it symbolized one of Athens' greatest achievements ever. But, unfortunately, it was forgotten over time because it was very old according to the Egyptian priests who lived 9000 years before Plato.
It tells the story of Atlantis only to show that Ancient Athens was a great city and the people of Athens were able to defend their freedom under the rule of law against foreign aggressive forces. This is the purpose of the character, at least, Kritias. Of course, there is also a moral side to the story: that greed for wealth and power will only bring destruction.
As a metaphor, the story of Atlantis and the victory of Athens may represent the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, in which the Greeks famously defeated the invading Persian army, Darius. The metaphor of Greeks fighting 'barbarians' represented as mythical creatures such as centaurs was already evident in Greek art before Plato. Could the phrase 'have to stand alone' refer to the absence of the Spartans at Marathon?
What about the physical location of Atlantis? Many believe that the island and its disappearance evoked the volcanic eruption, earthquakes and associated tsunamis on the late Bronze Age Aegean island of Thera, which destroyed this culture and sank much of the island. With its extensive trade network and fine arts, Thera would certainly be regarded as developed and wealthy by contemporary civilizations.
What better way to remember this shocking extinction than with a colorful legend? The description of the steep mountains of Atlantis would certainly fit that of a volcanic island, but its size and location in the Atlantic do not match that of Thera.
Then there is talk of hunting and sacrificing bulls in Atlantis. Could this refer to the well-documented practice in Minoan Crete, where bull-leaping, worship, and iconography (religious symbology) permeated the archaeological record?
According to many scholars, Plato's next dialogue was (coincidentally?) Minos, named after the island's legendary king, and he admired Plato's law-making skills.