Most of us have heard, and many are fascinated with, the legend surrounding the fictional lost city and realm of Atlantis. It would require the writing of a large book on its own, to properly speak to all the Atlantis depictions in popular culture. There is also a proliferation of Atlantis representations throughout the history of literature.
Many of those visiting my website www.plstuart.com have glimpsed, in the “An Early Look at the Maps” section, “The Drowned Kingdom of Atalantyx” map, shown not in full detail yet, but rather as a teaser. Logically, those curious about the title of the map, and seeing the island drawn there, have asked: will my novel, A Drowned Kingdom, be one of those literary depictions of Atlantis? Answer: Yes!
A Drowned Kingdom is a multifaceted work, containing many original motifs and concepts. My novel also features my own unique version of the well-known legend of Atlantis, as indeed evidenced by the map in question.
In this case, in A Drowned Kingdom, Atlantis is represented by “Atalantyx”, which is drawn on the first teaser map.
Origins of the Atlantis Legend.
Historically, the source material, and first known mention of Atlantis is provided by the famed Athenian philosopher Plato. Atlantis was noted first in Plato’s Timaeus, which consists predominantly of a monologue written from the viewpoint of the titular character, named Timaeus of Locri. But most of what we know of the origin story of the drowned island kingdom is told in Plato’s incomplete dialogue which followed Timaeus, called Critias.
The Creation of Atlantis.
Although the tragedy of its demise seems to get most of the attention, Plato’s version of Atlantis’ creation is equally fascinating. In Critias, Poseidon is known as one of the Twelve Olympians (major deities of Greek mythology), and god of the sea. Plato claims that Poseidon was bequeathed the island of Atlantis as his personal domain. According to Plato, Poseidon, in turn, gives Atlantis to his son, named Atlas, to rule. Atlas is one of Poseidon’s mortal offspring, and the eldest of five pairs of male twins that the mortal woman Cleito gave birth to, from her affair with the Greek god. Cleito was the daughter of Evenor and Leucippe (two of the original inhabitants of Atlantis). Atlas was declared king of the entire island by his father Poseidon, and legend claims that both the island and surrounding Atlantic Ocean were named after Atlas. Atlas’ numerous brothers from Cleito and Poseidon, in various levels of subinfeudation, were given swaths of territory on Atlantis as their fiefs under the overall rule of Atlas.
The Drowning of Atlantis in Critias.
Critias recounts the fall of Atlantis in detail, centering around Atlantis’ aspirations, as a dominant naval sea-power, to conquer ancient Athens, which ultimately fails, according to Plato. As per Plato, Athens was a Utopian, or ideal state, as Atlantis was once, but later Atlantis became morally bankrupt. It is precisely because of the paramountcy of Athenian society over all other societies, and Atlantis’ degradation, that Atlantis was unable to vanquish the Athenians.
The Athenians are described as industrious and virtuous. Plato notes that the Athenians excelled at every important aspect of life, such as devotion to the gods, artistic pursuits, and warfare. This contrasted with the Atlanteans, who were once noble and great, like the Athenians, however fell into disrepute. Plato claims that the once-good Atlantean society devolved into a place of greed, corruption, and lust for power. The supposed narrator, the philosopher Critias blamed the Atlanteans turning away from the gods, for their downfall. In Plato’s work, Critias says of the Atlanteans,
"...when the divine portion began to fade away, and became diluted too often and too much with the mortal admixture, and the human nature got the upper hand, they then, being unable to bear their fortune, behaved unseemly, and to him who had an eye to see grew visibly debased, for they were losing the fairest of their precious gifts; but to those who had no eye to see the true happiness, they appeared glorious and blessed at the very time when they were full of avarice and unrighteous power."
According to Plato, the citizens of Atlantis paid the ultimate price for their corruption. For, after losing the favour of the gods, the overlord god, Zeus, chose to destroy Atlantis by sinking it, along with its inhabitants, into the Atlantic Ocean.
Since Plato’s tale of Atlantis in Critias was first composed in approximately 360 B.C., the search for possible locations of sunken Atlantis, the belief in Atlantis as being a Utopian society, and the apocalyptic nature of its destruction, are all elements that have captured the imagination. Moreover, the legend of Atlantis has impacted contemporary literature in many significant ways.
Atlantis has inspired uncounted fictional works, including my own novel, A Drowned Kingdom.
In future blogs, I will speak to why I find Atlantis such a compelling topic, and what prompted me to include my version of Atlantis, called Atalantyx, described in my debut novel, A Drowned Kingdom, as part of the tale of Lord Othrun, Second Prince of the Atalanteans.
Please feel free to comment on this and future blogs and I will be sure to get back to you. Chat soon!
P.L. Stuart's Blog