Is there any historical fact of the existence of Atlantis?
Atlantis is a legendary island first mentioned in Plato’s dialogues ‘Timaeus and ‘Critias’, written around 360 BC. According to Plato, Atlantis was a naval power lying “in front of the Pillars of Hercules,” today known as the Strait of Gibraltar, which separates Europe from Africa by 7.7 nautical miles.
The Empire of Atlantis allegedly conquered many parts of Western Europe and Africa around 9600 BC, according to Plato’s legend. After a failed attempt to invade Athens, however, Atlantis sank into the ocean “in a single day and night of misfortune”.
There is some dispute among scholars as to how much Plato’s story or account was truly inspired by older traditions.
In ‘Critias’, Plato claims that his accounts of ancient Athens and Atlantis stem from a visit to Egypt by the legendary Athenian lawgiver, Solon in the 6th century BC. While in Egypt, Solon met a priest of Sais, who had translated the history of ancient Athens and Atlantis, which had originally been recorded on papyri in Egyptian hieroglyphs, into Greek.
Some scholars argue Plato drew upon memories of much more recent historical events, such as the Thera volcano eruption or the Trojan War, while others insist that he took inspiration from even more contemporary events, like the destruction of Helike in 373 BC or the failed Athenian invasion of Sicily in 415-413 BC.
The existence of a real Atlantis was debated throughout classical antiquity, but it was usually rejected and actually parodied by later authors. Historian, Alan Cameron claims: “It is only in modern times that people have taken the Atlantis story seriously; no one did so in antiquity”.
A Latin translation by Calcidius of the Plato dialogue, ‘Timaeus’ was what was available to scholars throughout the Middle Ages, and Atlantis was taken up by Humanists as an allegory in the works of several Renaissance writers, such as Francis Bacon’s ‘New Atlantis’ and Thomas More’s ‘Utopia.’ Atlantis inspires today’s literature, from science fiction to comic books to films. Its name has become a byword for any and all supposed advanced prehistoric lost civilizations.