If the works of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato had not revealed so many truths about the human condition, then chances are, his name would probably have been forgotten about centuries ago.
Yet one of his most famous tales – the monumental destruction of the ancient civilisation of Atlantis – is almost certainly false.
So why is this particular story repeatedly told thousands of years after the philosopher’s death?
More bizarrely, in recent years, the tale of Atlantis seems to crop up every year on social media, sparking a fresh debate about the mythical land.
The lost city, or island, is believed to have sunk hundreds of years ago, but remains a point of fascination for a lot of us.
As well as the question of its existence, the debate about its exact location also raises similar unanswered questions.
The initial placement of Atlantis, as mentioned in the work of Greek philosopher Plato, was situated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
James Romm, a professor of classics at Bard College in Annandale, New York, shed some light on why so many of us are so fascinated with this tale.
According to National Geographic, he said:
It’s a story that captures the imagination. It’s a great myth. It has a lot of elements that people love to fantasize about.
Plato, who told the story of Atlantis around 360 BC said the founders of the mythical place were half God and half human, who created a utopian civilisation.
Their home was said to have been made up of concentric islands separated by wide moats and linked by a canal which penetrated the centre.
Is there really any lost city of Atlantis ? Dad let’s figure out. pic.twitter.com/S1ZNAhapyZ
— Khushboo S (@KhushbooRS) May 10, 2018
Charles Orser, curator of history at the New York State Museum in Albany, states:
Pick a spot on the map, and someone has said that Atlantis was there. Every place you can imagine.
As well as this, few, if any, scientists think Atlantis actually existed.
Ocean explorer Robert Ballard, the National Geographic explorer-in-residence who discovered the wreck of the Titanic in 1985, notes ‘no Nobel laureates’ have said what Plato wrote about Atlantis, is true.
Still, Ballard says, the legend of Atlantis is a ‘logical’ one.
This is because destructive floods and volcanic explosions have happened throughout history – including one which bared similarities with the story of how Atlantis was destroyed.
Over 3,000 years ago, a huge volcanic eruption devastated the island of Santorini, near Greece.
At the time, a highly advanced society of Minoans lived on Santorini and the Minoan civilisation disappeared suddenly at about the same time as the volcanic eruption.
Yet Ballard states there’s one big reason as to why he doesn’t think Santorini was Atlantis – this is because, the time of the eruption on the island, doesn’t coincide with when Plato said Atlantis was destroyed.
Professor Romm believes Plato created the story of Atlantis to convey some of his philosophical theories, stating:
He was dealing with a number of issues, themes that run throughout his work. His ideas about divine versus human nature, ideal societies, the gradual corruption of human society—these ideas are all found in many of his works.
Atlantis was a different vehicle to get at some of his favourite themes.
While Orser concluded the legend of Atlantis is a story about moral, spiritual people, but they became greedy, petty, and ‘morally bankrupt’, and for the Gods:
[They] became angry because the people had lost their way and turned to immoral pursuits. [As punishment, they sent] one terrible night of fire and earthquakes.
Who knows? My head’s getting dizzy just thinking about it. If you do like your conspiracy theories though, check out UNILAD‘s video below:
Think that’s enough for one day!
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A sports enthusiast with a BA (Hons) in Sports Journalism, who can be found predominantly at Villa Park. Having completed a Masters in Broadcast Journalism, she then went on to work at Sky Sports, the BBC, and the Mirror. When not engrossed in sport, it’s animals, guitars, and Liam Gallagher which take main focus.