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Atlantis (Ἀτλαντὶς νῆσος, "island of Atlas") is a legendary island first mentioned in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written in c. 360 BC. According to Plato, Atlantis was a naval power lying "across the Pillars of Hercules" that conquered many parts of Western Europe and Africa 9,000 years before the time of the legendary Athenian lawgiver Solon, i.e. in the 10th millennium BC. After a failed attempt to invade Athens, Atlantis sank into the ocean "in a single day and night of misfortune."

The possible existence of Atlantis was discussed throughout classical antiquity, but it was usually rejected and occasionally parodied by later authors. Cameron stated: "It is only in modern times that people have taken the Atlantis story seriously; no one did so in antiquity". The Timaeus remained known in a Latin rendition by Calcidius through the Middle Ages, and the allegorical aspect of Atlantis was taken up by Humanists in utopian works of several Renaissance writers, such as Bacon's New Atlantis and More's Utopia. In the United States, Donnelly's 1882 publication Atlantis: the Antediluvian World unleashed widespread interests from pseudo-scientists. As a theme, Atlantis inspires today's light fiction, from science fiction to comic books to films. Its name has become a byword for any and all supposed advanced prehistoric lost civilizations.

In academia, the Atlantis story is seen as one of the many myths Plato incorporated into his work for stylistic reasons, in this case to represent his conceptualized ideal state (see The Republic) in action. Like the story of Gyges, it might have been inspired by older traditions or mythology. The frame story in Critias tells about an alleged visit of Solon to Egypt, where a priest of Sais translated the story of the purported war of ancient Athens and Atlantis into Greek. Although most classicists reject this way of tradition as implausible, some scholars argue that Egyptian records of the Thera eruption, the Sea Peoples invasion, or the Trojan War might have indeed influenced Plato in some way.

See also

Underwater geography:

Ancient sites:


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