Atlantis was a city of great wealth, beauty, and economy. But was it really a city? Did it ever exist, or was it just another great Greek myth? Some researchers believe that Atlantis was similar to the Garden of Eden - a marvelous and magnificent place, until corruption consumed it. Others, the "nay" sayers, believe that it was merely a philosophical device created by Plato to teach the people of Greece a valuable lesson. Because of the fact that the need for credible evidence surpasses people's faith, Atlantis, if there really was an Atlantis, may never be found. (Christopher,20)
The source of Atlantis's story came from Plato, a Greek philosopher who lived from circa 427 to 347 BC. He was known as the "father of Western thought" (James, 92), and most scholars credit the idea of Atlantis to the Greek philosopher. The only extant references to this fabled civilization are two Socratic dialogues recorded by Plato (Becker, 20): "Timaeus" and "Critias."
George Constable and his coeditors state that "Timaeus" and "Critias," which were written circa 355 BC, were "sequels" to "The Republic," a dialogue in which Socrates and his followers worked out their ideal philosophy of government . This text may be connected with the parts of the two dialogues that have to do with Atlantis's model government.(Donegan,414)
According to Adam Green and Jason Grate, et al., in "Timaeus" and "Critias," Plato, through the character of Critias -- Plato's cousin, describes a vast island paradise rich in metals and dotted with luxurious gardens that existed somewhere off the coast of the Straits of Gibraltar. Poseidon, the God of the sea protected this city, which had conquered the surrounding regions with its mighty navy. However, when the island's inhabitants became corrupt and began to worship other gods, Poseidon punished them with 'a single day and night of misfortune in which the island of Atlantis disappeared into the depths of the sea' . (Debussy,181)
There was an Egyptian tale similar to Plato's story of Atlantis during Egypt's Middle Kingdom, which was from the year 2000 to 1750 BC. This papyrus now resides in Leningrad and tells the tale of "The Shipwrecked Traveler." The traveler was an Egyptian on his way to the Pharaoh's mines when his ship was hit by a big wave and broken into driftwood. All aboard drowned except for the traveler, who had clung to timber and was cast upon an unknown island. Here lived a golden dragon that carried him to its lair but did not harm him. The dragon told him that the island, a land of heart's desire where wealth abounded, was formerly home to seventy-five happy dragons of which he himself was the lone survivor. The rest had been burned to a crisp by a star that had fallen in his absence. The dragon prophesized that an Egyptian ship would soon rescue the traveler but said 'never more shall you see this island because it will be swallowed by the waves' . (Donegan,414)