Plato wrote over two thousand years ago about a prehistoric Atlantean civilization that existed more than nine thousand years before his time, or over eleven thousand years ago. Plato describes a civilization with a Bronze Age level of technology, centered on what was a large “Atlantic island” located somewhere outside the Mediterranean Sea in the Atlantic Ocean.
Plato wrote two works or “dialogues” called the Timaeus and Critias around 360 BCE and they are the only known works that describe the civilization of Atlantis in detail. They describe the travels to Egypt in about 570 BCE of the Athenian statesman Solon (638–558 BCE). While Solon was in Egypt, some senior Egyptian temple priests told him about the empire of Atlantis and its war against the nations of the eastern Mediterranean, including prehistoric Athens. The Mediterranean war occurred 9,000 years before Solon's time. After the war ended, the Atlantic Island sank and there were destructions of prehistoric Athens. Plato based his Atlantis dialogues on Solon's translation of the Egyptian story.
Historical Fact, or a Noble Lie?
In both the Timaeus and Critias, Plato repeatedly describes the Atlantis story as fact, not fiction. However, virtually from the time Plato wrote the dialogues in the 4th century BCE, many philosophers and scholars have argued that Plato created the Atlantis story as a fiction or “noble lie”. They claim that Plato created a fictitious Atlantis and prehistoric Athens as a metaphor and moral message for a discussion about ideal societies. However, if you take the time to read a translation of the Timaeus and Critias, you will find the degree of detail that Plato uses, particularly to describe the geography of the Atlantic Island and prehistoric Athens, is much more than necessary for a metaphor.
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