Atlantis is a mythical city that appears in 2 of Plato’s works titled Timaeus and Critias. It is used by Plato to convey certain political and philosophical ideas. There is a considerable amount of debate as to whether the city of Atlantis truly existed, but that takes nothing away from the beauty of the myth.
After the Gods of Olympus overthrew the Titans, they split parts of the Earth among themselves. Atlantis was an island, comparable in size to North Africa and the Middle East combined. Perhaps due to the fact that it was surrounded by the sea, this piece of land was given to Poseidon.
Poseidon was extremely satisfied with Atlantis. This was not only because of the splendour of the land but also because of one of its inhabitants. Cleito was a beautiful woman who captured both Poseidon’s attention and affection. The god had 5 sets of twins with Cleito and constructed a magnificent palace for her in the centre of the Island.
The first-born of the first set of twins was named Atlas. He was proclaimed the first king of the Atlanteans. All other children of Cleito and Poseidon received plots of land within Atlantis, which they ruled wisely and fairly.
The city of Atlantis was said to be one of the most bountiful cities in ancient history. It had a wide range of wildlife ranging from stags to elephants, it had rich deposits of many precious metals such as Gold and Silver. Atlantis had a temperate climate and fertile soil which allowed the citizens to remain well-fed throughout the years.
Inside the city, there was a giant temple dedicated to Poseidon. Within the temple was a massive statue that displayed the glory of the god of the seas. The rulers of Atlantis always ensured that sufficient offerings were made to the gods, and in return the gods watched over Atlantis.
This sounds like the beginning of an incredibly boring story about a kingdom that flourished for centuries, but according to Plato, that was not to be. The riches of Atlantis were not enough to satisfy the citizens. They got greedy and decided to conquer foreign lands instead of simply engaging in fair trade.
Wars took place between the Atlanteans and foreign kingdoms. These foreign kingdoms were located within the pillars of Hercules, so in modern terms they would be the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea.
No single kingdom could have taken on the Atlanteans. Thus, they formed a coalition of nations, led by the kingdom of Athens. According to Plato, Athens was a model of the ideal civilisation. It was a republic that was watched over by Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war.
The Atlanteans’ greed had led to them losing the favour of the gods. As a result, they were unable to defeat the kingdoms that were backed by Athena. The Atlanteans tasted a bitter defeat for the first time and had to retreat to their island nation.
The gods were thoroughly displeased by the actions of the Atlanteans. Probably the unhappiest of them all was Poseidon, as he decided that the island he once loved so much had to be destroyed.
Poseidon sent an earthquake that reduced the city of Atlantis to rubble, drowning all its inhabitants. No god wished to stop this, and why should they? As the Atlanteans were neither pious nor virtuous. In the end the great city became a pile of rubble that would block sailors from venturing further into the great ocean for many years to come.