Hesiod was one of ancient Greece’s foremost poets and is generally assumed to have flourished around 750 BC. Two of his works have been identified as having parallels with Plato’s Atlantis. The first, his Works and Days, describes the deterioration of mankind in a similar manner to the moral decline of the inhabitants of Atlantis related by Plato.
The second, Theogony, prompted Haraldur Sigurdsson, a volcanologist has identified imagery that could be a reflection of the eruption of Thera seven hundred years earlier. Professors Mott Greene and J. V. Luce among others support this idea. This poem contains in line 938 what is probably the earliest use of the name ‘Atlantis’ that we have. “And Maia, the daughter of Atlas, bare to Zeus glorious Hermes, the herald of the deathless gods, for she went up into his holy bed.”(a)
Greene lists fifteen details in Titanomachy and compares them with the characteristics of the mid 2nd millennium BC eruption of Thera and finds a remarkable correspondence (p.61/2).
The Titanomachy or the war between the Titans and the Olympians recorded in the Theogony has been perceived as a parallel of the conflict between Athens and Atlantis. He also refers to the Hesperides, identified by some with Atlantis, as being located in the west
In the same work Hesiod notes that a wall of bronze ran around Tartarus (equivalent to Hell in Greek mythology), which brings to mind the walls covered with orichalcum in Plato’s Atlantis. It is not unreasonable to suggest the possibility of a common inspiration for both.
Jelle Zeilinga de Boer is anemeritus professor of geology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and co-author of Volcanoes in Human History [together with fellow geologist Donald Theodore Sanders. Chapter three of their book is entitled ‘The Bronze Age Eruption of Thera: Destroyer of Atlantis and Minoan Crete?’ in which they add their weight to the suggestion that the Theran eruption played a part in the development of the story of Atlantis (p.70).
What is remarkable is that the two geologists were apparently so seduced by the Minoan Hypothesis and in spite of Plato’s clear statement that Atlantis was destroyed by an earthquake they were prepared to contradict him and support instead the idea that a volcanic eruption was responsible. They also link the eruption with the Flood of Deucalion. In 2005 they co-authored a companion book, Earthquakes in Human History.
Some of Zeilinga de Boer’s views coincide with those of William Lauritzen as expressed in his recent book, The Invention of God. Haraldur Sigurdsson the volcanologist, has also suggested that volcanic eruptions, particularly Thera, have influenced the development of Greek myths such as Hesiod’s Theogony and Plato’s Atlantis!