Manolis Koutlis is a computer engineer and the author of In the Shadow: The Greek Colonies of North America and the Atlantic 1500 BC -1500 AD, in which he seeks to demonstrate that the Greeks had settlements in North America. Using the classical texts of Plutarch, Homer, Hesiod, Plato as well as the traditions of the Native Americans of the North East, he offers evidence to support his thesis.
The idea of ancient Greeks in Canada has been around for some time with Henriette Mertz in the 1960’s suggesting that Odysseus’ wanderings took place in the Atlantic and that he was the first European to visit America.
Koutlis has concluded that Ogygia was located on St. Paul Island in the Cabot Strait and goes further, locating Atlantis in the Gulf of St. Lawrence northeast of the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island, not far from Quebec’s Magdalen Islands.
*A few years earlier, Emilio Spedicato, also proposed that the region around the Mouth of the St. Lawrence River, in Canada, had been visited by ancient Greeks. His comments were addressed to the 2005 Atlantis Conference [629.411]. He did not, however, suggest a Canadian location for Atlantis as he had already claimed Hispaniola as its home.*
The first 37 pages of his book can be read online(a) .
Asahel Davis (1791- ) a former chaplain of the Senate of New York, in 1839, delivered a lecture, Antiquities of America, in which he offered a strong defence for a Scandinavian, or as he calls them ‘Northmen’, discovery of America five hundred years before Columbus.
When speaking of Atlantic landbridges he stated that “I’m inclined to believe that the land that united the now two continents, was the Atlantis, spoken of by Plato, Homer and Hesiod – Plato saw an account of this land which disappeared, in the hieroglyphics of Egypt.” [p.11].
At least twelve editions of his paper have been published.(a)
Ilias D. Mariolakos is professor emeritus of Geology and Palaeontology at Athens University. In 2010 he presented a paper(a) to the 12th International Congress of the Geological Society of Greece, in which he concluded that the prehistoric Greeks were quite familiar with the Atlantic and its Gulf Stream. He also identifies Iceland as Ogygia, based on his interpretation of the writings of Plutarch.
Mariolakos further maintains that the ancient Greeks*exploited the Michigan copper mines to supply the needs of their bronze industry. Their expertise was accumulated between the beginning or end of the 3rd millennium BC until shortly after the conclusion of the Trojan War towards the close of the Mycenaean period at the end of the 1st millennium BC. The onset of the ‘Dark Ages’ saw this maritime knowledge ‘forgotten’ until the ensuing Archaic Period when Greek civilisation revived.
Mariolakos bases his conclusions on the works of Homer, Hesiod, Orphic poetry and Plutarch as well as the 20th century writer Henriette Mertz.
Astromythology (Astrotheology) is the study of the astronomical origins of religion; how gods, goddesses, and devils are personifications of astronomical phenomena such as lunar eclipses, cometary appearances and planetary alignments, Christianity(c), Islam(d), Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Mithraism, and the ancient Egyptian(b) faith systems are examples of religions that have been influenced by astronomical observations. A series of videos on the subject is available on YouTube(a).
Claude Gétaz, a Swiss researcher, has gone further and claimed that the Atlantis story is an interpretation of celestial events. Alan E. Alford similarly suggests that Plato’s Atlantis story is a recounting of a very ancient and dramatic astronomical event, namely the explosion of a planetary body, witnessed by humans.
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 just “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) See: Archive 2055
Pre–Platonic 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) See Archive 2055)
Also See: Hellanicus of Lesbos
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.
Erytheia is recorded by Hesiod (8th cent. BC) as one of the Hesperides, a sunken island beyond the Pillars of Heracles.Pherecydes of Athens (5th cent. BC), is considered to be the first to identify Erytheia with Gádeira (Cadiz) according to Strabo (Geog. Bk. III). Some commentators have found many of its characteristics comparable with that of Plato’s Atlantis. Herodotus (Hist. 4.8) also describes it as an island that was located beyond the ‘Pillars’ near Gades. Avienus also supported this idea while Solinus described it being on the Lusitanian coast (Portugal).
N. Zhirov agreed with Adolf Schulten in identifying Erytheia with Tartessos. However, while Schulten located Tartessos at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River in South West Spain, Zhirov argued that the story of Hercules taking from Erytheia, the oxen of Geryon, indicated a distance of around 60 miles from the coast. He points out that since Hercules had to get from Helios the ‘golden cup’ in order to show direction by day and night, it would not have required a compass had the island been close to land. Similarly, he reasoned that Erytheia could not have been more than one or two day’s journey since their small boat could not have carried enough food and water for the animals on a longer journey.
Isla de León is a large piece of land between the city of Cádiz and the mainland and accepted by some as having been the home of the mythical giant Geryon and his cattle.
Gades(a) and Erytheia(b) have both been placed on the Map Mistress website in the Central Mediterranean and since they have both been associated with the ‘Pillars of Heracles’, is she suggesting a location in that region for Atlantis?
Classical Writers Supporting the Existence of Atlantis
Although many of the early writers are quoted as referring to Plato’s Atlantis or at least alluding to places or events that could be related to his story there is no writer who can be identified as providing unambiguous independent evidence for Atlantis’ existence. One explanation could be that Atlantis may have been known by different names to different peoples in different ages, just as the Roman city of Aquisgranum was later known as Aachen to the Germans and concurrently as Aix-la-Chapelle to the French. However, it would have been quite different if the majority of post-Platonic writers had completely ignored or hotly disputed the veracity of Plato’s tale.
Alan Cameron, a devout Atlantis sceptic, is adamant that ”it is only in modern times that people have taken the Atlantis story seriously, no one did so in antiquity.” Both statements are clearly wrong, as can be seen from the list below and my Chronology of Atlantis Theories and even more comprehensively by Thorwald C. Franke’s Kritische Geschichte der Meinungen und Hypothesen zu Platons Atlantis (Critical history of the hypotheses on Plato’s Atlantis).
H.S. Bellamy mentions that about 100 Atlantis references are to be found in post-Platonic classical literature. He also argues that if Plato “had put forward a merely invented story in the Timaeus and Critias Dialogues the reaction of his contemporaries and immediate followers would have been rather more critical.” Thorwald C. Franke echoes this in his Aristotle and Atlantis[880.46]. Bellamy also notes that Sais, where the story originated, was in some ways a Greek city having regular contacts with Athens and should thertefore have generated some denial from the priests if the Atlantis tale had been untrue.
Homer(c.8thcent. BC)wrote in his famous Odyssey of a Phoenician island called Scheriathat many writers have controversially identified as Atlantis. It could be argued that this is another example of different names being applied to the same location.
Herodotus (c.484-420 BC)regarded by some as the greatest historian of the ancients, wrote about the mysterious island civilization in the Atlantic.
Hellanicus of Lesbos (5th cent. BC) refers to ‘Atlantias’. Timothy Ganz highlights one line in the few fragments we have from Hellanicus as being particularly noteworthy, “Poseidon mated with Celaeno, and their son Lycus was settled by his father in the Isles of the Blest and made immortal.”
Syrianus (died c.437 BC) the neoplatonist and one-time head of Plato’s Academy in Athens, considered Atlantis to be an historical fact. He wrote a commentary on Timaeus, now lost, but his views are recorded by Proclus.
Eumelos of Cyrene (c.400 BC) was a historian and contemporary of Plato’s who placed Atlantis in the Central Mediterranean between Libya and Sicily.
Aristotle (384-322 BC) Plato’s pupil is constantly quoted in connection with his alleged criticism of Plato’s story. This claim was not made until 1819, when Delambre misinterpreted a commentary on Strabo by Isaac Casaubon. This error has been totally refuted by Thorwald C. Franke. Furthermore it was Aristotle who stated that the Phoenicians knew of a large island in the Atlantic known as ’Antilia’. Crantor (4th-3rdcent. BC) was Plato’s first editor, who reported visiting Egypt where he claimed to have seen a marble column carved with hieroglyphics about Atlantis. However, Jason Colavito has pointed out that according to Proclus, Crantor was only told by the Egyptian priests that the carved pillars were still in existence.
*Crantor (4th-3rd cent. BC) was Plato’s first editor, who reported visited Egypt where he claimed to have seen a marble column carved with hieroglyphics about Atlantis. However, Jason Colavito has pointed out(a) that according to Proclus, Crantor was only told by the Egyptian priests that the carved pillars were still in existence.*
Theophrastus of Lesbos (370-287 BC) refers to colonies of Atlantis in the sea.
Theopompos of Chios (born c.380 BC), a Greek historian – wrote of the huge size of Atlantis and its cities of Machimum and Eusebius and a golden age free from disease and manual labour. Zhirov states[458.38/9] that Theopompos was considered a fabulist.
Apollodorus of Athens (fl. 140 BC) who was a pupil of Aristarchus of Samothrace (217-145 BC) wrote “Poseidon was very wrathful, and flooded the Thraisian plain, and submerged Attica under sea-water.” Bibliotheca, (III, 14, 1.)
Poseidonius (135-51 BC.) was Cicero’s teacher and wrote, “There were legends that beyond the Hercules Stones there was a huge area which was called “Poseidonis” or “Atlanta”
Diodorus Siculus (1stcent. BC), the Sicilian writer who has made a number of references to Atlantis.
Marcellus (c.100 BC) in his Ethiopic History quoted by Proclus [Zhirov p.40] refers to Atlantis consisting of seven large and three smaller islands.
Statius Sebosus (c. 50 BC), the Roman geographer, tells us that it was forty days’ sail from the Gorgades (the Cape Verdes) and the Hesperides (the Islands of the Ladies of the West, unquestionably the Caribbean – see Gateway to Atlantis).
Timagenus (c.55 BC), a Greek historian wrote of the war between Atlantis and Europe and noted that some of the ancient tribes in France claimed it as their original home. There is some dispute about the French druids’ claim.
Philo of Alexandria (b.15 BC) also known as Philo Judaeus also accepted the reality of Atlantis’ existence.
Strabo (67 BC-23 AD) in his Geographia stated that he fully agreed with Plato assertion that Atlantis was fact rather than fiction.
Plutarch (46-119 AD) wrote about the lost continent in his book Lives, he recorded that both the Phoenicians and the Greeks had visited this island which lay on the west end of the Atlantic.
Pliny the Younger (61-113 AD) is quoted by Frank Joseph as recording the existence of numerous sandbanks outside the Pillars of Hercules as late as 100 AD.
Pomponius Mela (c.100 AD), placed Atlantis in a southern temperate region.
Tertullian (160-220 AD) associated the inundation of Atlantis with Noah’s flood.
Claudius Aelian (170-235 AD) referred to Atlantis in his work The Nature of Animals.
Arnobius (4thcent. AD.), a Christian bishop, is frequently quoted as accepting the reality of Plato’s Atlantis.
Ammianus Marcellinus (330-395 AD) [see Marcellinus entry]
Proclus Lycaeus (410-485 AD), a representative of the Neo-Platonic philosophy, recorded that there were several islands west of Europe. The inhabitants of these islands, he proceeds, remember a huge island that they all came from and which had been swallowed up by the sea. He also writes that the Greek philosopher Crantor saw the pillar with the hieroglyphic inscriptions, which told the story of Atlantis.
Cosmas Indicopleustes (6thcent. AD), a Byzantine geographer, in his Topographica Christiana (547 AD) quotes the Greek Historian, Timaeus (345-250 BC) who wrote of the ten kings of Chaldea [Zhirov p.40]. Marjorie Braymer[198.30] wrote that Cosmas was the first to use Plato’s Atlantis to support the veracity of the Bible.
There was little discussion of Atlantis after the 6th century until the Latin translation of Plato’s work by Marsilio Ficino was produced in the 15th century.
Briareus was described in Greek mythology as a fifty-headed and hundred-handed giant, who guarded Cronos on the island of Ogygia. The mythologist, Michael MacRae, interprets this as a reference to Briareus as the captain of a ship with fifty oarsmen[985.180].
Felice Vinci notes that Aristotle had the ‘Pillars of Briareus’ as an earlier name for the Pillars of Heracles(a). Frank Joseph claims that he was also known as Aegeon (Aigaios) whereas Hesiod and Homer have recorded Briareus as the son of Aigaios(b).
(a) Fragment 687 Rose, in Plutarch, Il Voltodella Luna (Adelphi, Milan, 1991) (see ‘c’ below)
(c) http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Moralia/The_Face_in_the_Moon%2a/D.html (see footnote 302, where fragment 678, not 687 is cited))