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The Atlantis myth is unique in the corpus of Greek mythology in that it has no antecedents, and it has no genealogical relationship to any earlier myths: the Greek myths are not ‘stand-alone’ stories, but form an intimately connected interconnected web of stories, but the Atlantis tale is entirely self-contained – it sprang fully-formed from the head of Plato rather like the birth of Athena from the head of Zeus. The fact that it appears from nowhere differentiates it from the rest of Greek mythology: as T. Wyatt points out, ‘If Atlantis had preclassical roots comparable to other myths, then one would expect some hints of them to have emerged from linguistic studies’,[1] but they have not done so. Plato’s Atlantis tale stands in splendid isolation. It is in the unfinished dialogue Critias (Kritias in Greek) that Plato, through the persona of Critias, gives us the details of how he imagines Atlantis to be.

There is a more up-to-date translation, with commentary, in the course text book: Kershaw, S.P., A Brief History of Atlantis: Plato's Ideal State, London: Robinson, 2016

[1] Wyatt, T., ‘Constraints on the Search for Atlantis’, in Papamarinopoulos, S. P. (ed.), Proceedings of the International Conference on “The Atlantis Hypothesis: Searching for a Lost Land” (ATLANTIS 2005) 11-13 July 2005, Milos Island, Greece, Athens: Heliotropos Publications, 2007, p.65.



Date created: 
Monday, January 29, 2018
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