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

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    Atlantipedia will be wound down in 2023. After nearly twenty years compiling Atlantipedia on my own, and as I am now approaching my 80th birthday, I have decided to cut back on the time I dedicate to developing this website. An orderly conclusion rather than an enforced one is always preferable before the Grim Reaper […]Read More »
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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.Read More »

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Ocean or Sea

Ocean and Sea are words employed by classical writers in a manner different to our present usage. Originally the Greek word Oceanos referred to the ‘Great River’ that was assumed to flow around the then known world. Stecchini wrote that “the existence of a river Oceanus as an extension of the Nile along the Equator was considered a serious reality in Greek times” (e)

Anton Mifsud has pointed out[209] that Homer used the word ocean for the sea and in fact used the same word for the Tyrrhenian ‘Sea’ (a). Both Seneca and Cicero referred to the Mediterranean Sea as the Atlantic Ocean(b)(c). Diodorus Siculus notes further that the word for ocean has even been applied to the Nile(d). Herodotus noted that Homer also called the Nile ‘Okeanòs’(f), as it was generally believed that it began and ended in an ocean (quoted by J.H. Agnew)[1232.123].

Georgeos Diaz-Montexano made a similar point>when he offered the simplistic explanation<that the classical writers had three words for bodies of saltwater; pontos (small), pelagos (medium) and okeanos (large). Plato always referred to Atlantis as being in a pelagos.

Alfred C. Moorhouse, among others, has pointed out(a) that ‘pontos’ is seemingly derived from words meaning ‘path’ or ‘bridge’, which in turn gave us the Latin ‘pons’ for bridge. Understandably, early sailors preferred shore-hugging and the use of trusted sea routes. ‘Pelagos’ refers to open seas, probably when out of sight of land. Agnieszka Adamowicz-Pospiech suggested that the words were used to distinguish “between the familiar and the foreign”.(h)

George Sarantitis suggested that ‘Pelagos’ “usually denotes a small sea in the shape of an embrace and contains islands, bays, peninsulas”, while ‘Pontos’ “denotes a sea with strong currents that require extra effort to navigate.”(i)

We can conclude therefore that since Plato never used the term ‘ocean’ in connection with Atlantis there is no proof that he was referring to our present-day Atlantic, while in all likelihood he was indicating the western basin of the Mediterranean or the reported large inland sea where the chotts of Tunisia and Algeria are all that remains of it today.

(a)  Odysseus x. 508,

(b)  Quaestiones Naturales,

(c) Somnium Scipioni

(d) Biblioteca Storica i.

(e) Ancient Cosmology ( *



(h) See Archive 6248 

(i) The Atlantis Hypothesis (2nd Conference)(Heliotopos, Athens, 2010) p.400