Discuss the existence of Atlantis and asses the origins of the myth of Atlantis.
The theory that encompasses the myth of Atlantis is indeed a most questionable one, many would argue that it did once exist though there is not nearly enough substantial evidence to concrete the “myth” into our history books, however there are certainly many strong arguments that support the theory. The myth of Atlantis has gone through a somewhat circuitous route, having evolved from the dialogues of “Timaeus” and “Critias” written by the Greek philosopher Plato, it has gone down through the centuries and has been interpreted by many historians, writers, geologists and other experts in a broad variety of fields. Experts today still question it’s existence and seek the truth but it is difficult to discern the fake from fiction when the only primary accounts were that of Plato, who’s both sources were made a number of references to the gods of Greek Mythology which makes it a more strenuous task to distinguish whether in fact Atlantis did or did not exist.
When viewing the great philosophers of the classical age, one would find it most difficult to not admire the great mind of Plato. Plato was a writer of many philosophical dialogues, he was a mathematician and he was also monumental in founding the academy of Athens, which was the birthstone of all learning in what we acknowledge today as the Western World. Plato was not only an excellent author, his works also consisted of the two dialogues Timaeus and Critias which are the only primary sources that support the existence of Atlantis. It is through these two dialogues fashioned by Plato that the theory of Atlantis existence first sparked up, this concept invoked through centuries and still up to today perpetuate the idea that 11,000 years ago, there may have well been an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean that is now today completely submerged under the water. Through the accounts of Timaeus and Critias we learn from what Plato writes, that Atlantis indeed existed 11,000 years ago, and that he witnessed its civilisation. He goes on to portray the citizens of Atlantis as Atlanteans, and the Island of Atlantis was a major trading place, it was believed to be the centre for trading and commerce for the Western World at the time. In the Dialogues it is also stated that Atlantis homed a race of an advanced civilisation who were noble, rich and powerful, and it was due to their arrogance that caused their downfall. It was also believed through the dialogues that Atlantis was abundant in natural resources and that Atlantis was in possession of a mystical object known as the Destiny Stone which powered the island electricity.
It is fascinating to somewhat believe in an island that might have existed and to also believe in a whole race of people who were completely abolished in one swift action, however there are significant flaws that disprove the theory of Atlantis in Plato’s account, there are many references to god’s in Greek mythology and they (according to Plato) are responsible for the utter destruction of Atlantis, according to Plato the Atlantean people were punished as they were a race that were filled of arrogance and were materialistically living their lives and this disturbed the gods, so Poseidon god of the sea sent a tidal wave completely destroying Atlantis, killing the citizens and submerging it to it’s watery grave. Another significant flaw was that Timaeus was never actually complete, in the sense that the remains of the account were never found and not all was uncovered of what Plato had to say about Atlantis. Once more, the Stone of Destiny of which Plato refers to is a highly doubtful object that would have existed, as there is no stone as stated by many of today’s renowned scientists to have provided electrical energy for the entirety of Atlantis. These motifs that Plato has continuously used throughout the course of his dialogues unfortunately go against his case to support the existence of Atlantis and against anyone’s notion to approve of the whole Atlantis theory.
Carlos Barceló, an author and a historian wrote a book called ‘Atlantis’ 1about the theories and the findings concerning its existence. Throughout the book, Barceló makes references with many other historians and scientists, for example, Jose Alvarez Lopez, Plato, and Charles Berlitz. This reference allows him to articulate the stance on the issue and support the fact that Atlantis indeed existed. Throughout the first chapter of the book, Barceló quotes historian, Jose Alvarez Lopez “Geology, Anthropology, Zoology…Thus, throughout one century scientific arguments in favour and against the existence of Atlantis have appeared…Concluding this interminable list of facts in favour of the existence of an ancient, evolved, terrestrial civilisation that had totally disappeared…” Through the reference of that quote, Barceló further entails his belief in the existence of Atlantis. The great level of knowledge that Jose Alvarez Lopez demonstrates regarding the scientific side of the existence of Atlantis allowed Barceló to construct a tremendously potent argument supporting its existence. It is evident that Barceló’s reference to Lopez and his argument favouring the existence of the island-continent inspires him and therefore allowing his argument to be more compelling. Barceló continues to quote Jose Alvarez Lopez, “The high level of evolution in some cereals and cultivated plants like the banana plant suggests the prehistoric knowledge of genetics unexplainable without the presence of a great civilisation”, from this quote that Barceló chooses to use from the historian, it is easy to recognise the amount of depth that historian Lopez goes through in his writings about the existence of Atlantis. Barceló uses this quote, again, to justify his belief in the Lost City and its mere existence. This allows Barceló’s perspectives and his discussion to be much more vulgar and powerful and furthermore strongly emphasises his perceptions of Atlantis having existed. Carlos Barceló’s book written about Atlantis is very detailed and the information provided inside is very precise. He includes in his book, numerous historians and scientists who have researched the Lost City. In doing so, Barceló creates a more reliable source due to his quotations and copies of the historians and scientists research and their findings.
Did Atlantis really exist? On the other hand, there are quite a few other historians and scientists who beg to differ. Could Atlantis be another ‘Pluto’2 case? Pluto was believed to be a planet until many years later when scientists discovered that in actual fact, it wasn’t a planet due to its small size. So could Atlantis follow the footsteps of Pluto? Many historians and scientists don’t believe that Atlantis existed due to the fact that there was not enough substantial evidence to prove Atlantis had been there beforehand. Although there are historical evidence and a few scientific findings, this does not reveal, nor display any essential evidence as to where it was actually situated or if there was actually an Atlantis situated in the middle of the ocean. When continental drift3 became well known in the 1960’s, the question as to whether the ‘Lost Continent’ existed or not had risen. Some theories propose elements that Plato’s stories were only derived from earlier myths. Dr Julia Annas, a Plato scholar4 said “The continuing industry of discovering Atlantis illustrates the dangers of reading Plato. For he is clearly using what has become a standard device of fiction — stressing the historicity of an event (and the discovery of hitherto unknown authorities) as an indication that what follows is fiction. The idea is that we should use the story to examine our ideas of government and power. We have missed the point if instead of thinking about these issues we go off exploring the sea bed. The continuing misunderstanding of Plato as historian here enables us to see why his distrust of imaginative writing is sometimes justified.” Dr Julia Annas further describes the inexistence of Atlantis. She further justifies the point that Atlantis was only a myth and a fantasy of Plato. This is important in recognising the reliability of Plato. Since Plato was the only main and important source that describes Atlantis’ existence, clearly, he is not enough to justify the Lost City’s actual existence. By relying on him, there is a lack of diversity of sources and therefore narrows down their argument to mostly, only the perspectives of Plato.
Through a somewhat circuitous route indeed, the theory of Atlantis’ existence has been a puzzling predicament for many experts such as historians today. It was through the works of Plato in the accounts of Timaeus and Critias that has questioned the beliefs of an island long lost under the seas. The theory of Atlantis having evolved from the philosophical dialogues questions us as people, it might be more than just an island that would have believed to have once existed, but might actually still exist in everyone of us. The myth of Atlantis portrays the existence of an advance civilisation of people who were the most advance race, however due to their futile efforts to be morally good people and focusing only on the materialistic aspects of life, they were punished by having what they had as home destroyed. Their arrogance was essentially the cause of their downfall and this is what we should take into account, we should examine ourselves as people. Plato was known for writing the Allegory of the Cave, and we can too take the Myth of Atlantis as a somewhat Allegory as it is a basic story of an island that was submerged caused by the wrath of the gods over an advanced civilisation, this aspect urges us to realises and invokes to us that we must see ourselves and must be genuinely and morally good people or else in a way we might have our own Atlantis destroyed.
In conclusion, there is generally not nearly enough substantial evidence that proves a colossal theory like that of Plato’s upon the existence Atlantis, however there have been many potent cases that do uphold Atlantis and an island that very well did exist 11,000 years ago. These potent cases have invoked imagination and concept to generations of people, to perpetuate what could have been. Quintessentially, the Atlantis theory does not hold enough geological, geographical, archaeological, historical, and scientific evidence to be proved correct, although it is a enthralling concept, it was perhaps nothing more than a bedtime story passed down through the generations that conveyed a message to provoke good morals and values to children for when they grow older, and not to receive the same twisted fate that the Atlanteans experienced due to their arrogant nature. Perhaps it could have once existed, just like Pluto was only disproved as a planet in recent history, in future history there is great possibility that one day we might know that Atlantis could well have existed thanks to the advancement in technology, however it is unlikely that a race of people could have been so unfortunate due to the volatile destruction of the gods and the Earth’s natural courses, that title respectively belongs to the due Jewish race.