Plato’s Timaeus tells the legend of Atlantis, a great and powerful island civilization whose navies sought to conquer the peoples of the Mediterranean. According to Plato, this civilization met a terrible end as a result of a series of natural disasters that caused it to sink into the sea.
In Critias, Plato expounds upon the legend of the lost continent and recounts tales of a great war between Athens and Atlantis, which preceded its destruction. According to Plato, the Atlantean civilization enjoyed great riches, both those found within its own fertile boundaries, and those received by trade with other peoples. The capital city of Atlantis was surrounded by alternating concentric circles of land and water. Great bridges and canals were built from the center island to the outermost rings, making transportation easy between the great metropolis, with its royal palace and temple of Poseidon, and the lands beyond. With fountains flowing with hot and cold water, luxurious dwellings, and beautiful weather, Atlantis is described by Plato as an ancient paradise – a paradise fitted with a mighty navy and driven by great ambitions. Alas, the civilization was not to last. Its great strength and beauty were lost to the forces of earth and sea. It sank beneath the waves, lost to history and never to return. Well, maybe not. Atlantis, it seems, has enjoyed quite a bit of attention, despite its disastrous end and its failure to find a proper place in respectable versions of history. While much of that attention has come from those who treat Plato’s story as a myth or an allegory, like Francis Bacon in his New Atlantis, it has also received a great deal of attention as something much more.
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