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

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Honorius Augustodunensis (L)

Honorius Augustodunensis (fl.1107-1140) was a popular German  theologian and a prolific writer. The Catholic Encyclopaedia quotes the view that Honorius was one of the most mysterious personages in all the medieval period. In what is arguably his best known work, Imago Mundi, he expressed the view that Atlantis had been an island in the Atlantic. He wrote that that the ‘curdled sea’, assumed by Andrew Collins to be a reference to the Sargasso Sea[0072.91], “adjoins the Hesperides and covers the site of lost Atlantis, which lay west from Gibraltar.”

His Imago Mundi contained a world map, which has become known as The Sawley Map(b).

Sawley Map

The Sawley Map





Rutot, Aimé-Louis (L)

Aimé-Louis Rutot (1847-1933) was a Belgian archaeologist who wrote extensively on Rutotprehistoric civilisation. In 1920[533] he identified Agadir on the Atlantic coast of Morocco as the location of the capital city of Atlantis. He suggested that Lake Tritonis was a large inland sea where the chotts are today. He also proposed a further large ‘Inner Lake’ existed across Hauts Plateau in the Atlas Mountains of Algeria. Rutot further identified the island of Hesperides as a large section of what is now mainland Africa, opposite the Canaries, and formerly the site of the ancient city of Lixus.

Hi-Brasil or Hy-Brasil

HiBrasil or HyBrasil is sometimes referred to as the Irish Atlantis and is a name given to a legendary island to the west of Ireland. It is frequently referred to as the Fortunate Island, which has obvious resonances with the Hesperides. Another appellation in Irish is Tir fo-Thuin or Land under the Wave. A further explanation offered for the origin of the name is that it is derived from an ancient term ‘brazil’that refers to the source of a rare dye, which is reminiscent of the expensive purple dye extracted from the Murex snail, traded by the Phoenicians.

One theory is that in the dim and distant past a part of what is now known as the Porcupine Bank, just west of Ireland, was exposed when the sea levels were lower as a result of the last Ice Age. When the feature was submerged by the rising seas it was probably eroded further by the ocean currents. The claim is that a memory of the exposed land lingered in the folk memory of the inhabitants of the west coast of Ireland.

The Genoese cartographer, Angellino de Dalorto (fl.1339), placed Hy-Brasil west of Ireland on a map as early as 1325. However, on some 15th century maps, the islands of the Azores appear as Isola de Brazil, or Insulla de Brazil. Apparently, it was not until as late as 1865 that Hy-Brasil was finally removed from official naval charts. Also found on medieval maps was another mystery island south of Brasil, sometimes appearing as Mayda, Asmaidas or Brazir(d).

*Phantom islands have been shown on maps for hundreds of years and some as recently as the 20th century(f).*

Mercator’s Brasil

One of the most famous visits to Hy-Brasil was in 1674 by Captain John Nisbet of Killybegs, Co. Donegal, Ireland. He and his crew were in familiar waters west of Ireland, when a fog came up. As the fog lifted, the ship was dangerously close to rocks. While getting their bearings, the ship anchored in three fathoms of water, and four crew members rowed ashore to visit Hy-Brasil. They spent a day on the island and returned with silver and gold given to them by an old man who lived there. Upon the return of the crew to Ireland, a second ship set out under the command of Alexander Johnson. They, too, found the hospitable island of Hy-Brasil and returned to Ireland to confirm the tales of Captain Nisbet and crew.

The last documented sighting of Hy-Brasil was in 1872, when author T. J. Westropp and several companions saw the island appear and then vanish. This was  Westropp’s third view of Hy-Brasil, but on this voyage he had brought his mother and some friends to verify its existence.

The Irish historian, W.G.Wood-Martin, also wrote[388.1.212] about Hi-Brazil over a hundred years ago.

Donald S. Johnson has also written an illustrated and more extensive account of the ‘history’ of Hi-Brazil in chapter six of his Phantom Islands of the Atlantic[652].

A modern twist on the story arose in connection with the Rendelsham UFO(b) mystery/hoax(c) of 1980 when co-ordinates that correspond to one of the Hy-Brasil locations was allegedly conveyed to one Sgt. Jim Penniston who kept it secret for thirty years(a)!

In 2010, the September 11th edition of the London Daily Mail (and its sister paper, the Irish Daily Mail) they ran an article with the adventurous headline of “The Atlantis of Connemara” that included the accounts of 20th century witnesses to unexplained visions off the west coast of Galway. Included was a potted history of recorded sightings since 1460.

In 2013 Barbara Freitag published a valuable in-depth study[1331] of Hy-Brasil dealing with its cartography, history and mythology.







Hesperides (L)


The Hesperides in Greek mythology were the daughters of Atlas. They lived on an island in the far west guarding a tree that bore golden apples made famous in the story of the twelve labours of Hercules who was charged with obtaining some of the apples.

The Hesperides have also been referred to as the Fortunate Islands and is the name applied by classical writers to islands off the west coast of Africa that have been variously identified with the Azores, Canaries or Cape Verde islands. Other opinions place the garden at Gades or on the Atlantic coast of Morocco.

While the majority of opinion is that the name specifically refers to the Canaries, a minority view espoused by Andrew Collins[072](a) is that Hesperides refers to the Caribbean, where he is convinced that Cuba had been the home of Atlantis.



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.


Hernandez, Marcos Martinez (L)

Marcos Martinez Hernandez was born in the Canary Islands in 1945. He studied there at Laguna University and later at Madrid University where received a doctorate in Classical Philology. His academic career eventually brought him back to Laguna University where he held the Chair of Greek Philology from 1987 until 1999.

He has written a range of articles and books including one on the connections between The Canaries and Greek Mythology[384] including Plato’s Atlantis, Isles of the Blest and the Hesperides.


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’ she is suggesting a location in that region for Atlantis. 

A paper on the subject was presented to the 2005 Atlantis conference on Melos, by Papamarinopoulos, N. Drivaliari & Ch. Cosyan who also place Erytheia in the vicinity of Cadiz.



Classical Writers Supporting the Existence of 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)[1255].*

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.

Hesiod (c.700 BC) wrote in his Theogonyof the Hesperides located in the west. Some researchers have identified the Hesperides as Atlantis.

Herodotus (c.484-420 BC)regarded by some as the greatest historian of the ancients, wrote about the mysterious island civilization in the Atlantic

Thucydides (c.460-400 BC)refers to the dominance of the Minoan empire in the Aegean.

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[880]. 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.

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.




Avalon (m)

Avalon is the legendary resting place of Britain’s King Arthur. Tradition has it that it was also famous for its apples and this feature led some to link it with the legend of the Hesperides considered another name for Atlantis. This linkage of Avalon with Atlantis is extremely tenuous. The apple connection is also suggested by the Welsh for Avalon which is Ynys Afallon, posibly derived from afal, the Welsh for apple.   

Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historiae (xxxvii.35) named Helgoland as ‘insulam Abalum’, which has been suggested as a variant of Avalon. Other locations such as Sicily and Avallon in Burgundy have been also been proposed. A series of YouTube clips(a) bravely links Avalon, Mt.Meru and Atlantis, which is supposedly situated in the Arctic!

*[The isle of Lundy in Britain’s Bristol Channel has been speculatively identified as Avalon(b).]*



Atlantis: The Antediluvian World (L)

Atlantis: The Antediluvian World [021] by Ignatius Donnelly was first published by Harper & Bros. of New York in 1882 and is still in print today and continues to fire the imagination of many. Although it contains many assumptions, assertions and errors, it was a daring venture for its time, pulling together data from many disciplines to produce a coherent argument in favour of the reality of Atlantis.

Donnelly offers his readers the following thirteen propositions at the beginning of his tome giving the flavour of its contents:

(1)          That there once existed in the Atlantic Ocean, opposite the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea, a large island, which was the remnant of an Atlantic continent, and known to the ancient world as Atlantis.

(2)          That the description given by Plato is not, as has been long supposed, fable, but veritable history.

(3)          That Atlantis was the region where man first rose from a state of barbarism to civilisation.

(4)          That it became, in the course of ages, a populous and mighty nation, from whose overflowings the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River, the Amazon, the Pacific coast of South America, the Mediterranean, the west coast of Europe and Africa, the Baltic, the Black Sea and the Caspian were populated by civilised nations.

(5)          That it was the true Antediluvian world; the Garden of Eden; the Garden of Hesperides – where the Atlantides lived on the River Ocean in the West; the Elysian Fields situated by Homer to the west of the Earth; the Gardens of Alcinous – grandson of Poseidon and son of Nausithous, king of the Phaeacians of the island of Scheria; the Mesomphalous – or Navel of the Earth, a name given to the Temple at Delphi, which was situated in the crater of an extinct volcano; the Mount Olympus – of the Greeks; the Asgard – of the Eddas; the focus of the traditions of the ancient nations; representing a universal memory of a great land, where early mankind dwelt for ages in peace and happiness.

(6)          That the gods and goddesses of the ancient Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Hindus, and the Scandinavians were simply the kings, queens, and heroes of Atlantis; and the acts attributed to them in mythology, a confused recollection of real historical events.

(7)          That the mythologies of Egypt and Peru represented the original religion of Atlantis, which was sun-worship.

(8)          That the oldest colony founded by the Atlanteans was probably in Egypt, whose civilisation was a reproduction of that of the Atlantic island.

(9)          That the implements of the ‘Bronze Age’ of Europe were derived from Atlantis. The Atlanteans were also the first manufacturers of iron.

(10)       That the Phoenician alphabet, parent of all European alphabets, was derived from an Atlantis alphabet, which was also conveyed from Atlantis to the Maya of Central America.

(11)       That Atlantis was the original seat of Aryan or Indo-European family of nations, as well as of Semitic peoples, and possibly also of Turanian races (of central Asia).

(12)       That Atlantis perished in a terrible convulsion of nature, in which the whole island was submerged by the ocean, with nearly all of its inhabitants.

(13)       That a few persons escaped in ships and on rafts, and carried to the nations east and west tidings of the appalling catastrophe, which has survived to our own time in Flood and Deluge legends in the different nations of the Old and New Worlds.

Although some of these propositions now appear rather dated and are in some instances factually incorrect, we must keep in mind that they were written over a century ago. It is quite possible that without the impetus created by Donnelly’s book, Atlantis would have remained a relatively obscure subject.

The original text of Atlantis and that of Donnelly’s sequel, Ragnarok, are now available on a number of sites on the Internet(a).

In my view, although I say it with hindsight, all of Donnelly’s propositions are flawed and unsupported by any realistic interpretation of what Plato wrote. If speculation was a taxable commodity in 1882, Donnelly would have been bankrupted.

2014 saw the first translation of Donnelly’s Atlantis into Sinhalese by the Sri Lankan translator G.R.A. Perera(b).


(b) (Link broken Nov. 2016)