Plato describes Atlantis as an isle that had its position in the Atlantic. (In order to achieve a better understanding, we have to take note of the former Greek conception of the world: The Atlantic was imagined as the ocean surrounding the former known continents, meaning Africa and Eurasia).
In his description of Atlantis its landscape, nature and metropolis are incomparably beautiful and the culture is very advanced in technology, due to an unusually well educated population. In the end this island disappears into the sea due to an earthquake which might be related to gigantic submarine volcanic explosions. The result is a flood of huge proportions, coming over the land, destroying almost everything. The sea level rises a few hundred meters and so Atlantis sinks. This catastrophe is said to have happened during a single day and night. Plato wrote down his knowledge in two dialogues: Timaeus and Critias. These are the first recorded papers that appeared about Atlantis.
Contents of Timaeus
Timaeus, a priest of Egypt, describes the isle to Solon, a citizen of Athens. He claims that Atlantis had been bigger than Libya and Asia Minor together. Besides that, the priest talks about a well educated civilisation that is said to have existed there 10,000 years B. C. The sphere of Atlantis influence is said to have convered all the nations of the Mediterranean Sea up to Athens.
Contents of Critias
In Critias Plato writes the story of Atlantis and he describes the nation as an idealistic state. He reports on a war between main armed forces of ancient Athens and the kings of Atlantis which was fought 9000 years before his time. These two nations are geographically well defined from each other in that the one existed within the Columns of Heracles (today Gibraltar) and the other outside. We can infer from Athens position that Atlantis has to be the nation which has its position outside the Columns of Herakles.
Poseidon receives the isle of Atlantis
At the beginning of this dialogue, after short interesting remarks on Atlantis, Plato tells something about ancient Athens. Its especially about the allocation of its different areas between the Gods and about principle such as wisdom and art. Poseidon, the Greek God of the sea, receives the isle Atlantis, which was said to have been bigger than Libya Minor and Asia together, for his section. In the centre it has a very beautiful, fertile plain and in the coastal region mountains with high downward gradient lines up which dropped off very strongly in direction to the sea.
According to Plato, the shape of the capital is defined by parts of the city being separated from each other by waterchannels. In this context he talks about two parts of land and three parts of water. "Looking towards the sea, but in the centre of the whole island, there was a plain (...). Near the plain (...) there was a mountain, not very high on any side. In this mountain, there dwelt one of the earth born primeval man of that country, whose name was Evenor (...) and he had an only daughter who was called Cleito. The maiden had already reached womanhood when her father and mother died; Poseidon fell in love with her (...) and had intercourse with her, and breaking the ground, enclosed the hill in which she dwelt all round, making alternate zones of sea and land larger and smaller, encircling one another; there were two of land and three of water (...)." (http://classics. mit. edu/ Plato/critias.sum.html) Poseidon fathered ten children, five times twins. When they were grown up, he divided the isle into ten sections. The eldest son of Poseidon, King Atlas (the isle Atlantis and the ocean Atlantic were named after him), was intended to govern over Atlantis. He got the biggest and most beautiful section. His nine brothers, the nine princes of Atlantis, administered the remaining different territories of the isle and incidentally various islands in the ocean.
The provision of Atlantis population and the supply of certain materials and other things was managed through import from foreign countries, although the country offered most of what was needed for daily life. The earth of Atlantis supplied a multiplicity of solid and liquid substances. "Orichalcum" - a today unknown metal - was after gold one of the most valuable metals and many sections of the island contained it. Also forest, raw material for the carpenters and habitat of many animals (even a lot of elephants), was plentyful enough. The Atlantis citizens begin to establish temples, palaces, ports and docks. They even built bridges over the water zones surrounding the Metropolis and built roads to and from the royal palace. From the sea they to created a channel which flowed into the centre of the city.
The city of Atlantis was protected by a big stonewall and in its centre there were channels dividing the different land areas. Outwards at the open places the Atlanteans positioned towers and gates which had a protective function. For building materials a natural stone was very popular, but also brass, tin (for the first two city walls) and Orichalcum (for the wall which surrounded the centre of Atlantis and only for special buildings) were used. In the centre there was a magnificent temple consecrated to Cleito and Poseidon. It was decorated with many gold statues and only the noblest metals were used to build it.
The reason this continent was meant to fall gets clear at the end of Critias: At first the kings were willing to follow the divine laws. In its spirits mildness and wisdom were united. However gradually they began to expire to give way to the human weaknesses (for example Plato talks about private property, ...). So their nearness to the Gods began to decrease until Zeus made an end of that...
The rest of Critias was lost or Plato missed the termination of the work.
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