Romulus & Remus
The Tyrrhenian Sea was clearly an important part of the Atlantean domain. Plato clearly states that Atlantis controlled Europe as far as Tyrrhenia (Critias 114c), which implies that they dominated the southern half of the Italian peninsula. The Sea is surrounded by the islands of Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily and the Lipari Islands as well as continental Europe in the form of the Italian mainland. Not only does it contain islands with an adjacent continent (see Timaeus 24e). It is also accessed through the straits of Messina and Sicily, both of which have been identified as locations for the Pillars of Heracles before Eratosthenes applied that appellation to the region of Gibraltar.
Timaeus 24e-25a as translated by Bury reads “there lay an island which was larger than Libya and Asia together; and it was possible for the travellers of that time to cross from it to the other islands, and from the islands to the whole of the continent over against them which encompasses that veritable ocean (pontos=sea). For all that we have here, lying within the mouth of which we speak, is evidently a haven having a narrow entrance; but that yonder is a real ocean (pelagos=sea), and the land surrounding it may most rightly be called, in the fullest and truest sense, a continent.” Similarly, Lee and Jowett have misleadingly translated both pontos and pelagos as ‘ocean’, while the earliest English translation by Thomas Taylor correctly renders them as ‘sea’. Modern translators such as Joseph Warren Wells and a Greek commentator George Sarantitis are both quite happy to agree with Taylor’s translation. However, Peter Kalkavage translates pontos as ‘sea’ but pelagos as ‘ocean’!
For me, there is a very strong case to be made for identifying the Tyrrhenian Sea as the ‘sea’ referred to by Plato in the passage quoted above. However, it was probably F.Butavand, in 1925, who first proposed the Tyrrhenian as the sea described by Plato in his La Veritable Histoire de L’Atlantide .
Pushing the boat out a little further, I note that Rome is situated in Central Italy and by tradition was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus!
A 1700 map of the Tyrrhenian Sea is available online.
‘Tyrrhenia’ is sometimes used as a geological term to describe a sunken landmass in the Western Mediterranean Basin(b)(c).
The Kings of Atlantis were, according to Plato, originally the sons of Poseidon and Cleito. They were ten in number and consisted of five sets of male twins. The first-born was Atlas who was given authority over the others, each of whom controlled their own territory. Some commentators reacted with such incredulity to this story, that they have either dismissed this detail or in some cases the entire Atlantis tale as pure fantasy. Of course, it is highly improbable, if not virtually impossible to accept that Clieto had five sets of all male twins. However, we are dealing here with a myth that is an echo of the legends of many other cultures describing their antediluvian origins. Lenormant & Chevallier wrote of this over a hundred years ago:
“…The ten kingdoms of Atlantis are perpetuated in all the ancient traditions. ‘In the number given by the Bible for the Antediluvian patriarchs we have the first instance of a striking agreement with the traditions of various nations. Other nations, to whatever epoch they carry back their ancestors…are constant to the sacred number of ten… In Chaldea (Babylon), Berosus, writing in the third century BC, numerates ten Antediluvian kings whose fabulous reign extended to thousands of years. The legends of the Iranian race commence with the reign of ten Peisdadien (Poseidon?) kings…. In India we meet with the nine Brahmadikas, who, with Brahma, their founder, make ten, and who are called the Ten Petris, or Fathers. The Chinese count ten emperors, partaking of the divine nature, before the dawn of historical time. The Germans believed in the ten ancestors of Odin, and the Arabs in the ten mythical kings of the Adites”.
It may be just coincidence, but Plato tells us that the domain of Atlantis extended as far as Tyrrhenia (modern Tuscany), just south of which was Rome, a city, which according to legend was founded by twin brothers, Romulus and Remus. It has been claimed that the story of their origins are a variation of the story in the Hindu epic Ramayana concerning the twin sons of king Sri Rama, Luva and Kusha(c).
Although Babylon is supposed to have had ten kings before the Flood, it must be noted that they reigned successively rather than concurrently, as was the case in Atlantis.
Attention has been drawn to the fact that Manetho (c. 300 BC), the Egyptian historian called the first sequence of Egyptian god-kings ‘Auriteans’, which has been seen as suspiciously like a corruption of ‘Atlanteans‘.
Some writers have attempted to link these names with specific regions; such as Atlas with Morocco, Eumelos (Gadeiros) with Gades (Cadiz) and Elasippos with Lisbon. Beyond these three there is very little agreement. Lewis Spence correctly points out “Plato expressly states that these names had been Egyptianised from the Atlantean language by the priest of Sais, and subsequently Hellenised in Critias, so that there is little hope that they were transmitted in anything like their original form.” Spence also commented on the similarity of the Phoenician gods and the early kings of Atlantis, an idea suggested earlier by Ignatius Donnelly.
R. Cedric Leonard is convinced that Manetho’s list of Egyptian god-kings is in fact a list of the first kings of Atlantis and expands on this idea on his website(a). However, in his 1979 book, Quest for Atlantis, Leonard has suggested that the kings of Atlantis were human-alien hybrids and that humans are the result of alien genetic experiments!!
Another site(b) identifies the kings of Atlantis with the pantheon of Phoenician gods, an idea first mooted by Ignatius Donnelly(part IV. chap.III). But Donnelly, also suggested, unconvincingly, that the gods of the Greeks were just the deified kings of Atlantis (part IV, chap. II), while it is also possible that they were just personifications of natural phenomena.
An unusual feature of the Atlantean kings is the meeting every fifth and sixth year. Plato explains this as a way of honouring odd and even numbers. However, Bacon & Galanopoulos suggest[263.152] that in fact this may have been the result of an awareness of the eleven-year cycles of rains. I believe that this explanation is equally weak and the subject requires further investigation.
*(a) http://www.atlantisquest.com/Hiero.html (offline March 2018)
Divine Twins (Dioscurism) occur frequently in many cultures worldwide(c), Greek mythology being no exception, although Plato’s report that five sets of twins were the original rulers of Atlantis, it provides one of the more unusual elements in the account. Could there be any connection between the male twins of the Atlantis and the male twins, Romulus and Remus, who founded Rome or Amphion and Zethos who established Thebes?
Greek and Roman mythologies also shared the twins Castor and Pollux. Furthermore, a Christian reference to them can be found in the Acts of the Apostles (28.11), where St.Paul is said to have left Malta for Rome on a ship displaying the sign of Castor and Pollux.
The idea of Divine twins is also found in the old Slavic pantheon according to Michael Shapiro in a 1982 paper(g)*and found across European mythologies(i).*
According to Jim Allen, the leading proponent of the idea of Atlantis having existed in the Andes, the Aymara kingdoms which existed on the Andean Altiplano also governed in pairs, so he has no doubt that the story of Atlantis had its origins in a Bolivian legend(a). It is accepted that ‘The Hero Twins’ are part of Mayan mythology in the form of Xbalanque and Hunaphu. The anthropologist Robert L. Hall has detected twins in the native symbolism as far north as the Mississippi. The existence of twin rulers also existed in Bronze Age Scandinavia – one being the chief of war, the other the chief of rituals.
A recent paper by Alastair Coombs entitled The Atlantis Twins offered further thoughts on possible prehistoric references, including a suggested link with Göbekli Tepe. This article was expanded and retitled Göbekli Tepe & the Atlantis Twins and was later published on Graham Hancock’s website(d).
In December 2017, Anton Mifsud, the doyen of Maltese Atlantologists, published an intriguing suggestion(f), when he pointed out that on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Neo-Platonist Michelangelo, something odd can be perceived in the central panel, known as The Creation of Adam. There, we find ‘god’ surrounded by five pairs of flightless ‘cherubs’. This is reminiscent of Poseidon’s five pairs of twin sons that ruled Atlantis. However, Christian iconography invariably shows cherubs with wings, so it begs the question; why this departure from the norm? Mifsud contends that together with other aspects of the fresco, this depiction is closer to Plato’s ‘god’, Poseidon, than that of the Mosaic creator in Genesis!
My own view is that the story of the five sets of male twins is just one of the mythological threads in Plato’s Atlantis narrative. P.P. Flambas who has taken a generally literal view of Plato’s account, admits the improbability of happening to one couple through natural means. However, in correspondence, he defensively quotes the somewhat dubious(e) case of “the greatest officially recorded number of children born to one mother is 69, to the wife of Feodor Vassilyev (1707–c.1782), a peasant from Shuya, Russia.”
(g) Michael Shapiro, Neglected Evidence of Dioscurism (Divine Twinning) in the Old Slavic Pantheon, JIES 10 (1982), 137-166.