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ABrief History of Atlantis

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The Atlantis story remains one of the most haunting and enigmatic tales from antiquity, and one t... Read More

Product Description

The Atlantis story remains one of the most haunting and enigmatic tales from antiquity, and one that still resonates very deeply with the modern imagination. But where did Atlantis come from, what was it like, and where did it go to?

Atlantis was first introduced by the Greek philosopher Plato in two dialogues the Timaios and Kritias, written in the fourth century BC. As he philosophises about the origins of life, the Universe and humanity, the great thinker puts forward a stunning description of Atlantis, an island paradise with an ideal society. But the Atlanteans degenerate and become imperialist aggressors: they fight against antediluvian Athens, which heroically repels their mighty forces, before a cataclysmic natural disaster destroys the warring states.

His tale of a great empire that sank beneath the waves has sparked thousands of years of debate over whether Atlantis really existed. But did Plato mean his tale as history, or just as a parable to help illustrate his philosophy?

The book is broken down into two main sections plus a coda - firstly the translations/commentaries which will have the discussions of the specifics of the actual texts; secondly a look at the reception of the myth from then to now; thirdly a brief round-off bringing it all together.

Why today's leaders should pay heed to Plato's tales of an ideal state, and its ruin

The myth of Atlantis has fascinated people for centuries. Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias imagine an enormous island paradise, home to a prosperous society. But the Atlanteans degenerate and engage Athens in an imperialist war, before a cataclysmic natural disaster plunges Atlantis beneath the waves.

This new translation of the dialogues, with commentary and critical discussion, makes clear their contemporary relevance. The author follows the quest for the island from Scandinavia to Antarctica, and also explores how the myth of Atlantis has been interpreted and manipulated by successive generations - used by the Conquistadors to justify their annexations in the sixteenth century, and by Himmler to prove the Aryan supremacy in the twentieth. Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

Plato's dialogues appear remarkably prescient in our 'post-truth' world. Not because they invite a search for a mysterious lost continent, but because of their warnings about the pernicious effects of wealth and power on a ruling class: Atlantis-style luxury, excess, corruption and imperialism can lead only to decay and disaster. The Timaeus and Critias should be prescribed reading for every political leader.

A new translation of two of Plato's dialogues, Timaios and Kritias, with commentary and critical discussion including an exploration of how the tale of Atlantis has been interpreted throughout history.Atlantis has been adapted to countless ideologies and agendas over time, serving the needs of every sort of reader - "harmless hippies or Heinrich Himmler", in Mr Kershaw's memorable phrase . . . Mr Kershaw closes this chilling chapter [on 'the white-supremacist thread in the Atlantis story'] with a quote from Hannah Arendt suggesting the larger importance of his topic. "The ideal subject of totalitarian rule," Arendt wrote, is "people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction . . . and the distinction between true and false . . . no longer exist." The tortured moves that Mr. Kershaw documents, by which the Atlantis myth has been recast as fact and willfully misread, remind us of how vital such distinctions are for a society striving to stay free.

Product Details

Title: ABrief History of Atlantis
Author: Stephen P. Kershaw
SKU: BK0257180
EAN: 9781472136992
Language: English
Binding: Paperback

About Author

Dr Stephen P. Kershaw has been a Classics tutor for some thirty years, teaching at all levels from beginner to PhD, currently operating out of the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, authoring and teaching undergraduate courses, and tutoring on the Masters in Literature and Art. Steve has also created Oxford University's online courses on Greek Mythology, The Fall of Rome and The Minoans and Mycenaeans. He lectures at the Victoria and Albert Museum and, as Professor of History of Art, runs the European Studies Classical Tour for Rhodes College and the University of the South. In addition to titles published by Robinson, A Brief Guide to the Greek Myths, A Brief History of the Roman Empire and A Brief History of Atlantis, he has edited The Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology. Steve was an expert contributor to the History Channel's Barbarians Rising series; former students include the Princess of Jordan; he translated the Greek inscription on Matthew Pinsent's fourth Olympic gold medal for him after his victory in Athens; and he is a guest speaker for the Royal Academy (through Cox & Kings). He lives in the Oxfordshire village of Deddington with his wife, the artist Lal Jones.

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