Atlanticus is the word used by Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa to describe Atlantis. Thomas Taylor in his celebrated translation of Plato’s works has subtitled Critias as Atlanticus. In the 20th century The Critias Atlanticus was published, being a compilation(a) of seven translations of Plato’s Critias that includes the work of Thomas Taylor, Benjamin Jowett, Henry Davis, R. G. Bury, Lewis Spence, W.R.M. Lamb, John Alexander Stewart.
Robert Catesby Taliaferro (1907-1989) was an American mathematician, philosopher and classical philologist. In his latter capacity he wrote a foreword to a 1944 reprint of Thomas Taylor‘s translation of Timaeus and Critias . From it Frank Joseph has quoted [802.140] the following; “it appears to me to be as least as well attested as any other narration in any ancient historian. Indeed, he [Plato] who proclaims that ‘truth is the source of every good both to gods and men,’ and the whole of whose works consist in detecting error and exploring certainty, can never be supposed to have wilfully deceived mankind by publishing an extravagant romance as matter of fact, with all the precision of historical detail.”
*However, shortly after I posted the above, I was contacted by Thorwald C. Franke, who kindly pointed out that Frank Joseph’s quotation was from Thomas Taylor’s own introduction not Taliaferro’s later addition in 1944. This is just another example of sloppy research by Joseph.*
Pateneit is the name of the Egyptian priest that Solon spoke to in Sais, according to Proclus (5th cent. AD) in his Commentary on Plato’s Timaeus (Vol I). He adds that he also spoke to two other priests, Ochlapi at Heliopolis and Ethimon at Sebbynetus. However, Plutarch (2nd cent. AD) gives the names of the priests at Sais and Heliopolis as Sonchis and Psenophis respectively. It is frustrating that we no longer have access to the sources used by Plutarch and Proclus, but they do seem to enhance the provenance of Plato’s account.
The Thomas Taylor translation of Proclus’ commentary can be read online(a)(b).
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).
English Translations of Plato’s Timaeus and Critias have been freely available since 1793 when Thomas Taylor produced his translation.
In 1804 Taylor published the first English translation of the entire Platonic corpus. In 1871, Benjamin Jowett produced the most commonly quoted version of the Atlantis Dialogues, principally because his work is now out of copyright. Henry Davis produced a translation of Critias in the 19th century and John Alexander Stewart also offered a translation of Critias early in the 20th century.
1925 saw W.R.M. Lamb publish a translation of some of Plato’s works and today his rendering of both Timaeus and Critias is used by the Perseus Digital Library(a). In 1929, Lewis Spence included a composite version of the Atlantis texts in The History of Atlantis, using the English translations of Jowett and Archer-Hind for Timaeus and the French translations of Jolibois and Negris for Critias. Rev. R. G. Bury gave us what was arguably the best translation of the Dialogues (Loeb Classical Library, 1929) and is included at the beginning of this book. Francis M. Cornford (1874-1943) published his Timaeus (Bobbs-Merrill, 1937)
Sir Desmond Lee produced a new English translation in 1972 (Penguin)
Professor Diskin Clay delivered an acclaimed translation of Critias (Hackett Publishing, 1997). Professor Donald J. Zeyl offered a new translation of Timaeus (Hackett Publishing, 2000). Dr. Peter Kalkavage published a highly regarded translation of Timaeus (Focus Philosophical Library, 2001).
Thomas Taylor (1758-1835) was the first to publish, in English, the complete works of Plato and Aristotle, in 1804. His publication was the completion of valuable work begun by the unfortunate Floyer Sydenham. Taylor is regarded by some as having had a valuable insight into the mind of Plato, which made his translations superior to many others. In 2009, a five volume, first edition set went on sale for $22,000.
Although Taylor’s work was generally well received, a subsequent translation by Rev. Henry Davis scathingly referred to Taylor’s work as “uncouth, obscure, unEnglish and often extremely erroneous.” Nevertheless, Madame Blavatsky and other theosophists were very happy with Taylor’s translation.
A reprint of Taylor’s 1810 translation of Timaeus and Critias has been made available by Kessinger Publishing. Unfortunately, it does not include the Stephanus pagination references, which makes navigation a little more difficult.
However, an extensive website dealing with the work of Gerald Massey(b) includes Taylor’s translation of Plato’s Critias and Timaeus with pagination (see introduction Pt.5).
Gerald Massey (1828-1907) was an English poet and self-taught Egyptologist. One result of his studies was to identify the Egyptian god Horus with Jesus. On the subject of Atlantis, Massey claimed that sun-worshipping Atlanteans migrated to Egypt but failed to identify their place of origin. His huge work on ancient Egypt, Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World, is widely available.
Proclus Lycaeus (412-487) is considered the last major Greek philosopher. He came from a rich family in Constantinople. After studying in Alexandria and a brief legal career in Constantinople, he went to Athens to study at the famous School of Philosophy founded 800 years earlier by Plato.
He refers to ancient historians mentioning seven small islands in the Outer Ocean (Atlantic) dedicated to Persephone and three larger ones, of which one was 1,000 stadia long and dedicated to Poseidon.
In 1820, Thomas Taylor produced the only English translation that we have of Proclus’ commentary. Andrew Collins has drawn attention[0072.100] to a translation error by Taylor, noted by Alan Cameron and Peter James, which seems to offer a quote from Plato rather than Crantor, which in turn obscures whether it was Crantor or Plato actually travelled to Egypt.
Taylor notes that in a fragment from a lost book of Proclus, he seems to refer to orichalcum under the name of migma(c).
(d) In Platonis Theologiam
William Blake (1757-1827) an eccentric English poet and artist, had his own distorted vision of Atlantis
in which the legendary British King Albion had once ruled Atlantis before it was destroyed by a deluge, leaving as remnants, the British Isles. The author Anthony Roberts was very taken with Blake’s poetic view of Atlantis and frequently quoted him.
George Mills Harper (R.O. Lawton) (1915-2006) was a Distinguished Professor at Florida State University, who has written a paper on Blake’s interpretation of the Atlantis story and how he was influenced by the work of Thomas Taylor(a).