An A-Z Guide To The Search For Plato's Atlantis

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Joining The Dots

I have now published my new book, Joining The Dots, which offers a fresh look at the Atlantis mystery. I have addressed the critical questions of when, where and who, using Plato's own words, tempered with some critical thinking and a modicum of common sense.


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Hellanicus

Etymology of ‘Atlantis’

The Etymology of Atlantis is frequently given in many modern books and websites(b)(c) to means ”daughter of Atlas” while some writers have opted for ”island of Atlas”. Thorwald C. Franke has pointed out that the more correct meaning is “of Atlas” or “Atlas’ …….” with the context determining the precise interpretation.

J. Warren Wells[783.13] has pointed out that the word Atlantis was used by Hesiod in line 938 of his Theogony, centuries before both Plato and Solon, while Hellanicus of Lesbos certainly used the term before Plato.

A collection of pre-Platonic references to Atlantis which do not directly use its name has been compiled by R.Cedric Leonard(a).

(a) http://www.atlantisquest.com/Writings.html (offline March 2018) See: Archive 2055

*(b) http://www.atlantia.de/atlantis_english/myth/myth/atlantis_atlantioi_hesperides.htm (Link broken May 2018)

(c) http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/atlantis

Pre-Platonic References

PrePlatonic References to Atlantis are rare but this should not be surprising. First of all Atlantis is probably a Hellenised version of another name given to Solon by the priests of Sais. It is perfectly understandable for an individual state and its people would have a number of unrelated names, some of which can have a colloquial or even derogatory origin.

A good example of this today is the land where ’Dutch’ people come from has been known variously as ‘The Low Countries’, ’Holland’ or ’The Netherlands’. My own country has been known as ‘Ireland‘, ‘Erin‘, and ‘Hibernia’ and its people are often referred to as ’Celtic’, ’Irish’ ’Paddys’ in Britain or ’Micks’ in America.

Consequently, we should consider the name ’Atlantis’ as a possible invention of Plato’s and seek out pre-Platonic references through the descriptions used rather than by any name utilised by Plato.

Furthermore, Atlantis is probably just a ‘name of convenience’, applied to the alliance of a number of independent states, many of which were individually known previously by other names to the Greeks through trade. After all, if the Atlanteans were situated close enough to trade, they were close enough to invade.

J. Warren Wells[783.13] has pointed out that the word Atlantis was used by Hesiod in line 938 of his Theogony, centuries before both Plato and Solon, while Hellanicus of Lesbos certainly used the term before Plato. The earliest suggestion of Hellanicus offering a possible pre-Platonic mention of Atlantis was voiced by J.V. Luce in his contribution to Edwin Ramage’s Atlantis : Fact or Fiction[0522.72]

A collection of pre-Platonic references to Atlantis which do not directly use its name has been compiled by R.Cedric Leonard(a).

*(a) http://www.atlantisquest.com/Writings.html (offline March 2018) See Archive 2055)*

Also See: Hellanicus of Lesbos

McQuillen, R(ich)

R(ich) McQuillen is an American investigator who has cogently argued for an Egyptian location for Atlantis. He has diligently gathered an impressive array of evidence from classical writers including Hellanicus, Solinus and Aeschylus to support his view and arranged the morass that is Greek mythology to construct a credible timeframe for the Atlantis narrative.

*Hovever, McQuillen is not the first to locate Atlantis in or near Egypt, in fact, the earliest I have found is in the late 19th century by A.N. Karnozhitsky.*

McQuillen places the Pillars of Heracles at Canopus, which was formerly in the Western Nile delta but is now submerged about 6.5 km from the coast in the Bay of Aboukir. He is also of the opinion that the Egyptians used lunar ‘years’ rather than solar years bringing the backdrop to the Atlantis story into the 2nd millennium BC.*However, he now seems to favour the ‘factor ten’ interpretation of Plato’s date.*

McQuillen locates Atlantis at Pharos, which was near modern Alexandria. His website(a) is well worth a visit.

Extensive underwater excavations in the region have been undertaken in recent years by Franck Goddio and his team with remarkable results(b).

It is also worth noting that the late Ulf Richter reasoned that a river delta was the most likely topographical setting for Atlantis.

(a) http://gizacalc.freehostia.com/Atlantis.html

(b) http://franckgoddio.org/

Hellanicus of Lesbos

Hellanicus of Mytilene, the main town on Lesbos, was a historian of the late 5th century BC and is credited with writing the first history of Athens. His importance is probably reflected in the frequency with which his work is mentioned. Unfortunately, only about 200 fragments of his work have come down to us as described by Robert L. Fowler[375]. Tantalisingly, one of these fragments was entitled Atlantias. It is quite probable that this was written up to a century before Plato’s account, which would suggest that his story might not be the original invention suggested by many. Timothy Ganz notes[376] one line that is particularly noteworthy, “Poseidon mated with Celaeno, and their son Lycus was settled by his father in the Isles of the Blest and made immortal.”

The earliest suggestion of Hellanicus offering a possible pre-Platonic mention of Atlantis was voiced by J.V. Luce in his contribution to Ramage’s Atlantis :Fact or Fiction[522.72]. Andrew Collins[072] dismisses this reference as irrelevant,  whereas Rodney Castleden[225] is inclined to identify some similarities with Plato’s tale and in addition suggests that an even earlier reference in a fragment from the Oxyrhynchus Papyri may have inspired Hellanicus. Oxyrhynchos was a mainly Greek-speaking city in ancient Egypt whose rubbish dump was the source of the papyri referred to. Peter Parsons has recently written a book[377] about the city.

The final haul from that site amounted to 500,000 papyri fragments which filled 700 boxes. This treasure trove is now being studied and gradually published by the Ancient Lives Project(a) at Oxford University. Since 1898, when the first volume was produced, over seventy five volumes have been produced and are now arriving at a rate of more than one a year(b).

(a) https://www.ancientlives.org/

*(b) https://dhblog.maynoothuniversity.ie/skerr/?p=13*