Since eons, the mystery of the lost city of Atlantis has engaged several generation of the historian fraternity in a seemingly endless debate regarding its existence. You must be wondering why and how the existence or non-existence of a city matter to humankind, which is jostling to come to terms with more threatening issues like global warming and weapons of mass destruction. In fact, it matters. If only we can join the parts of the jigsaw puzzle, which we call history, our chances of revisiting history and learning from it increases manifold.
How the legend was born
Solon (638 BC–558 BC), a renowned diplomat, lawmaker, and Lyric poet from Athens, claimed that an Egyptian priest related to him the story of an island that disappeared long before. The priest lamented that the people of Athens had forgotten their true history and roots owing to redundant occurrences of natural calamities.
However, it was Plato, the eminent Greek philosopher, who made the issue of the lost island so appealing. In one of his books, he vividly described the island and its culture, architecture and lifestyle of people in detail. His impeccable description of Atlantis made people believe in the legend. Those who discard the theory believe that his description was more a work of imagination rather than being based on historical evidences.
If Plato is to be believed, Atlantis was a formidable sea power located in the Atlantic Ocean. In terms of size, it was equal to ancient Libya and Asia Minor put together. With mountains in the north and running parallel to the coast, and a plain in the south, the island was endowed with splendid beauty.
It is a widely held perception that the island was ruled by the worthy descendents of Poseidon – the sea god. However, the later descendents failed to maintain the purity of their race. Plato states that the city had conquered almost all of Western Europe and Africa by 9600 BC. Post a failed attempt to conquer Athens, the island was submerged into the mighty sea ‘in a single day and night of misfortune.’
The most plausible theory
Those who foster apprehensions regarding the existence of the island, propounds a theory according to which Plato was actually speaking about the Minoan civilization on Crete and the island of Santorin lying in its vicinity. The island of Santorin was also struck by catastrophe.
The alleged city of Atlantis still captures the imagination of people world over. It is more likely to be legend than truth, but that doesn’t stop people with vivid imagination.