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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
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Plato's TIMAEUS : Atlantis against Athens

Timaeus 21a-27b  * Greek Fonts


Page 5

Many great and wonderful deeds are recorded of your state in our histories. But one of them exceeds all the rest in greatness and valour. For these histories tell of a mighty power which unprovoked made an expedition against the whole of Europe and Asia, and to which your city put an end. This power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean, for in those days the Atlantic was navigable; and there was an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles; the island was larger than Libya and Asia put together, and was the way to other islands, and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent which surrounded the true ocean; for this sea which is within the Straits of Heracles is only a harbour, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a real sea, and the surrounding land may be most truly called a boundless continent. Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent, and, furthermore, the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia. This vast power, gathered into one, endeavoured to subdue at a blow our country and yours and the whole of the region within the straits; and then, Solon, your country shone forth, in the excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind. She was pre-eminent in courage and military skill, and was the leader of the Hellenes. And when the rest fell off from her, being compelled to stand alone, after having undergone the very extremity of danger, she defeated and triumphed over the invaders, and preserved from slavery those who were not yet subjugated, and generously liberated all the rest of us who dwell within the pillars. But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea. For which reason the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island.

πολλὰ μὲν οὖν ὑμῶν καὶ μεγάλα ἔργα τῆς πόλεως τῇδε γεγραμμένα θαυμάζεται͵ [24e] πάντων μὴν ἓν ὑπερέχει μεγέθει καὶ ἀρετῇ· λέγει γὰρ τὰ γεγραμμένα ὅσην ἡ πόλις ὑμῶν ἔπαυσέν ποτε δύναμιν ὕβρει πορευομένην ἅμα ἐπὶ πᾶσαν Εὐρώπην καὶ Ἀσίαν͵ ἔξωθεν ὁρμηθεῖσαν ἐκ τοῦ Ἀτλαντικοῦ πελάγους. τότε γὰρ πορεύσιμον ἦν τὸ ἐκεῖ πέλαγος· νῆσον γὰρ πρὸ τοῦ στόματος εἶχεν ὃ καλεῖτε͵ ὥς φατε͵ ὑμεῖς Ἡρακλέους στήλας͵ ἡ δὲ νῆσος ἅμα Λιβύης ἦν καὶ Ἀσίας μείζων͵ ἐξ ἧς ἐπιβατὸν ἐπὶ τὰς ἄλλας νήσους τοῖς τότε ἐγίγνετο πορευομένοις͵ [25a] ἐκ δὲ τῶν νήσων ἐπὶ τὴν καταντικρὺ πᾶσαν ἤπειρον τὴν περὶ τὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκεῖνον πόντον. τάδε μὲν γάρ͵ ὅσα ἐντὸς τοῦ στόματος οὗ λέγομεν͵ φαίνεται λιμὴν στενόν τινα ἔχων εἴσπλουν· ἐκεῖνο δὲ πέλαγος ὄντως ἥ τε περιέχουσα αὐτὸ γῆ παντελῶς ἀληθῶς ὀρθότατ΄ ἂν λέγοιτο ἤπειρος. ἐν δὲ δὴ τῇ Ἀτλαντίδι νήσῳ ταύτῃ μεγάλη συνέστη καὶ θαυμαστὴ δύναμις βασιλέων͵ κρατοῦσα μὲν ἁπάσης τῆς νήσου͵ πολλῶν δὲ ἄλλων νήσων καὶ μερῶν τῆς ἠπείρου· πρὸς δὲ τούτοις ἔτι τῶν ἐντὸς τῇδε Λιβύης μὲν ἦρχον μέχρι πρὸς Αἴγυπτον͵ τῆς δὲ Εὐρώπης μέχρι Τυρρηνίας. αὕτη δὴ πᾶσα συναθροισθεῖσα εἰς ἓν ἡ δύναμις τόν τε παρ΄ ὑμῖν καὶ τὸν παρ΄ ἡμῖν καὶ τὸν ἐντὸς τοῦ στόματος πάντα τόπον μιᾷ ποτὲ ἐπεχείρησεν ὁρμῇ δουλοῦσθαι. τότε οὖν ὑμῶν͵ ὦ Σόλων͵ τῆς πόλεως ἡ δύναμις εἰς ἅπαντας ἀνθρώπους διαφανὴς ἀρετῇ τε καὶ ῥώμῃ ἐγένετο· πάντων γὰρ προστᾶσα εὐψυχίᾳ καὶ τέχναις ὅσαι κατὰ πόλεμον͵ [25c] τὰ μὲν τῶν Ἑλλήνων ἡγουμένη͵ τὰ δ΄ αὐτὴ μονωθεῖσα ἐξ ἀνάγκης τῶν ἄλλων ἀποστάντων͵ ἐπὶ τοὺς ἐσχάτους ἀφικομένη κινδύνους͵ κρατήσασα μὲν τῶν ἐπιόντων τρόπαιον ἔστησεν͵ τοὺς δὲ μήπω δεδουλωμένους διεκώλυσεν δουλωθῆναι͵ τοὺς δ΄ ἄλλους͵ ὅσοι κατοικοῦμεν ἐντὸς ὅρων Ἡρακλείων͵ ἀφθόνως ἅπαντας ἠλευθέρωσεν. ὑστέρῳ δὲ χρόνῳ σεισμῶν ἐξαισίων καὶ κατακλυσμῶν γενομένων͵ μιᾶς ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτὸς χαλεπῆς ἐπελθούσης͵ [25d] τό τε παρ΄ ὑμῖν μάχιμον πᾶν ἁθρόον ἔδυ κατὰ γῆς͵ ἥ τε Ἀτλαντὶς νῆσος ὡσαύτως κατὰ τῆς θαλάττης δῦσα ἠφανίσθη· διὸ καὶ νῦν ἄπορον καὶ ἀδιερεύνητον γέγονεν τοὐκεῖ πέλαγος͵ πηλοῦ κάρτα βραχέος ἐμποδὼν ὄντος͵ ὃν ἡ νῆσος ἱζομένη παρέσχετο.

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