The Legend of Atlantis


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Atlantis sinking

In his dialogues Timaeus and Critias, the ancient Greek philosopher Plato described the legendary island of Atlantis- a rich, advanced civilization. According to him, the half-god, half-human creators made it a utopia. It was a collection of mountainous islands, surrounded by rings of sea and land. Atlantis produced an abundance of trees, food, and metals. Those who called it home lived well. They domesticated animals irrigated crops, and lived in cities of bronze, complete with bridges, canals, walls, and gates. In many ways, it was an ideal civilization.

Atlantis was a prosperous city, but its downfall would be quick and gory. The people living there soon became greedy and immoral. They began wanting more than they already had, conquering lands in the Mediterranean area. Eventually, the Atlantians provoked the gods enough to sprawl fire, floods, and earthquakes upon the land, sinking it to its very watery end.

If not invented by Plato himself, many would consider the myth to be an interpretation of Egyptian records in which a volcanic eruption occurred on the island of Thera, followed by a series of earthquakes and tsunamis. Though perhaps the most popular theory is that Plato, being not a historian, but a philosopher, made the story up to convey his thoughts and moral ideas- through metaphors, as fables often do.

The story of Atlantis is most likely untrue, so the actual question isn’t whether it’s real or not, but why it is still being told after more than 2,000 years. James Romm, a Professor of Classics at Bard College in Annandale, New York, certainly has his take on it. “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,” he explains.

Despite the numerous pieces of evidence concluding that Atlantis is not real, people have still been seeking it out for centuries. For instance, in 2018, a filmmaking team announced: “CONCRETE proof that Atlantis existed.” One of their key pieces of evidence was a series of hidden circles in Spanish wetlands. It seemed almost to be the remains of a long-lost civilization- perhaps Atlantis, even. However, they merely turned out to be experimental ponds for a zooplankton study. Professor of Anthropology Kenneth Feder has dealt with these claims for most of his professional life. Although there is no evidence that Atlantis existed, those interested in the story can be pulled into learning actual archeology. “If what we’re stuck with is people seeing documentaries about Atlantis or ancient aliens, and that’s what gets them curious, then … we need to be able to run with that,” says Feder.