According to Plato the land of Atlantis (Aegeara) was already populated by the local autochthons when the 'Gods' arrived, so where did they come from? There are various theories about their origins, the Balkans, Macedonia, or the possibility they were extra-terrestrial 'Gods'. I cannot rule out any possibility definitively but an alternative springs to mind. Perhaps the Aegearans (Atlanteans) were ancestors of the Vikings. Aegeara would have been inaccessible to most due to it being surrounded by swamps, salt-flats and lakes. Quite what route they took to get to Aegeara is open to debate but their credentials fulfilled the criteria to access such a place.

One ability the Vikings had over other migratory marauders was being able to carry their ships overland. Initially I thought of this notion when reading about Jason. It is stated that in their escape from Colchis, the Argonauts carried their ship over land. This is not of great significance here save for the fact the Aegearans were not indigenous to Aegeara. In the Critias Dialogue, Evenor is described as the ancestor of the kings who ruled Atlantis. 

Evenor was among the original inhabitants of Aegeara born from the earth (autochthons). He lived with his wife Leucippe on a low hill in the centre of the island (Paros or Naxos), about fifty stadia from the sea. The couple had one daughter, Cleito. When Cleito reached marriageable age the god Poseidon is said to have slept with her and she became mother of five pairs of twin sons. Her oldest son, Atlas, became the first king of Atlantis, with the other sons as subordinate governors in other regions of Aegeara.

These 'demi-gods' became the rulers of all Aegeara on the death of Evenor and his wife. With the ancient use of metaphor it can be assumed the island was originally split into five administrative groups. This alone would not be enough to make a strong case but when looking at dialects and their eponymous origins the theory begins to make sense.

Hellen the progenitor of the Greek nation had three sons who were themselves progenitors of primary tribes of Greece: Aeolus the Aeolians, Dorus the Dorians, and Xuthus the Achaeans and Ionians through his sons Achaeus and Ion. The central area where Evenor dwelt would have inevitably passed to the Hellenes and evidence from dialects used in the region suggest the descendants of Ion took over that assigned to Evenor.

For a long time things on the Aegean landmass were as idyllic as was possible, yet tensions between the offspring of Hellen and / or their descendants grew as natural disasters increased in frequency. The main body of evidence coming from Crete just 125 miles to the south. The problems given by Plato are probably valid although they are mere 'reports' rather than an in depth analysis. As such they are open to interpretation not to mention 'coloured' by author bias. If the Hellenes were indeed among the first to colonise Aegeara, what caused a rift to grow between them?

Greed and excess is prevalent in society today, perhaps the Atlanteans were guilty of it too as suggested by the Egyptian priest. I found it hard to believe though and analysed the traits of the Hellenes. This was done simply by the looking at the variations and idiosyncrasies of the cultures where their dialects were dominant. The first thing that draws the attention is the fact the Ionians and Dorians were the two most dominant forces among the Hellenes. They were also very different culturally and most likely the chief protagonists in any disputes.

The priest also states:-

There were many special laws affecting the several kings inscribed about the temples, but the most important was the following: They were not to take up arms against one another, and they were all to come to the rescue if any one in any of their cities attempted to overthrow the royal house; like their ancestors, they were to deliberate in common about war and other matters, giving the supremacy to the descendants of Atlas. And the king was not to have the power of life and death over any of his kinsmen unless he had the assent of the majority of the ten.

Despite this 'law' being diluted as the Hellenes divided, migrated, and integrated with Pelasgians (the name given to indigenous peoples of mainland Greece), it was still very much in evidence in early Greek culture. The tale of the 300 Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae is perhaps the best indication. Hollywood as ever juggled with the truth as Leonidas of Sparta in 480 BC led a force of 7,000 Hellenes from various Greek States to repel an attack by 150,000-200,000 Persians. They were betrayed and Leonidas remained with 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians and 400 Thebans to fight to the death covering the retreat of the main force.

Another indicator of this disjointed unity, albeit more tenuous, is the cessation of hostilities during the Olympic and Pythian Games and various festivals. This is spurious as there was no actual truce during these times although competitors, priests and spectators making the pilgrimage were allowed safe passage.

The priest goes on:-

Such was the vast power which the god settled in the lost island of Atlantis; and this he afterwards directed against our land* for the following reasons, as tradition tells: For many generations, as long as the divine nature lasted in them, they were obedient to the laws, and well-affectioned towards the god, whose seed they were; for they possessed true and in every way great spirits, uniting gentleness with wisdom in the various chances of life, and in their intercourse with one another. They despised everything but virtue, caring little for their present state of life, and thinking lightly of the possession of gold and other property, which seemed only a burden to them; neither were they intoxicated by luxury; nor did wealth deprive them of their self-control; but they were sober, and saw clearly that all these goods are increased by virtue and friendship with one another, whereas by too great regard and respect for them, they are lost and friendship with them.

*'our land' being Egypt, the Hyksos kings perhaps 1650-1550 BC

The story goes on to say as the bloodline became diluted corruption and materialism grew and was thus the downfall of the Atlanteans. It is probable the rising sea-levels caused the land to become over-populated and vying for habitable areas was more a source of conflict than actual greed. It could amount to the same thing with a loose translation.

All this comes at the very end of the Critias Dialogue the remainder of which was unfinished or lost. Plato / Solon / Sonchis gave the Atlanteans a divine origin but whether or not that is true is irrelevant at this juncture. What we know for sure is the Atlanteans / Hellenes were of different origin to the autochthons of the Aegean. The virtues of the Atlanteans were extolled initially and their downfall ultimately blamed on mixed-breeding. This cements the belief the Atlanteans were peaceful and a democracy was in place.

The last paragraph of the Dialogue descends into the type of nonsense sceptics relish. Zeus with his thunderbolts, and Poseidon with his earth-shaking taking punitive measures (the Flood of Dardanus?).

The accusations levelled at the Atlanteans mirrored the problems in Athens in the first half of the 1st Millennium BC so it is at this point the story may have been 'tampered with' by Sonchis, Solon, Socrates and / or Plato. The downfall was attributed to the Atlanteans making war with Athens but whether using the dates 1650 BC or the equally likely 1450 BC, it was a simple case of migration as their island home was destroyed. Looking at the accepted migratory patterns against those with Aegeara added, it is easy to see how Aegeara would fit in.

The Ionian dialect is common to Athens, renowned for a love of philosophy, art, democracy, and a somewhat hedonistic lifestyle. They were also elitist so mixed breeding would be abhorrent to them. Apollo and Athena were their most influential Gods. This was in stark contrast to the Dorians, linked closely with both Zeus and Poseidon, and more loosely with Hades. Zeus certainly had no qualms about interbreeding if we believe what we are told and similarly, Poseidon is reported as having spawned the kings of Atlantis with Cleito. the daughter of the mortal Evenor.

The Dorian dialect was common in Crete, Rhodes and areas of the Peloponnese and evidence shows the Dorians to be more militaristic by nature. The Achaean characteristic is one of being more in tune with nature than the other Hellenes. Their close association with the Arcadians hints at this. The Aeolians seem to be a combination of the others and despite the Ionians being the first to integrate on mainland Greece (Attica), the Aeolians were not far behind. Hellen was said to have taken up residence in Thessaly with his son Aeolus joining him at some point.

Whether the Ionians or the Dorians were right or wrong in their views is open to debate. The Atlanteans were obviously more technologically advanced than the Pelasgians on the Greek mainland. Perhaps the account by Sonchis of the Atlantean downfall was exactly what the Ionians feared would happen by diluting their bloodline. By contrast the Dorians may have foreseen the cataclysms and interbred for allegiance, a common practice in many cultures.

Life on Aegeara might have been Utopian before the waters rose too high but elsewhere in the region wars and skirmishes were commonplace. The Dorians, however peaceful in intent, recognised a military force was necessary for defence. They integrated with the people of the Peloponnese, Crete, and other islands in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Ionians had a different approach. They took wisdom and technology with them to Attica and in return the indigenous Pelasgians afforded them protection and provided them with an army.

This doesn't answer the burning question of who the Aegearans were or where they came from but at least we know they were the progenitors of the Hellenes / Ancient Greeks. However it does give us clues to pinpointing dates. The historical eras known as the Helladic Periods were named for Hellen. In brief, they are as follows:-

Early Helladic Period 2900-2000 BC

Historians will tell you nomadic tribes chose to settle down in central and southern Greece, but they state their origin is a mystery. Once again this is due to not taking into account the Aegean landmass. They brought with them new methods of agriculture. Little is known other than they were fully integrated with indigenous Greek tribes around 2000 BC.

Middle Helladic Period 2000-1550 BC

The Middle Helladic Civilization saw a number of city-states beginning to emerge. More significance was placed on warriors and maritime trade. A social order developed in Greece. This period shows Minoan influence and moves into the Mycenaean era.

Later Helladic Period 1500-1100 BC

The Later Helladic Civilization was dominated by Mycenaean politics. The rich culture and traditions of this era gave rise to the Classical Greek legends. There is much speculation surrounding the decline of the Helladic Civilization which began the Greek Dark Ages, internal strife, invasion, or a combination of both with a bit of natural disaster thrown in.

To summarise, during the Middle Helladic Period landmass - generally the most fertile land - was being lost all around the Mediterranean coasts. In the beginning the early Aegearan migrants were welcomed because of their knowledge but towards the end when space was a major concern, they were probably met with hostility by the mainland inhabitants.

From the geography of dialects and the logical dates for migration taken from archaeology, it can reasonably be assumed the Dorians were the forebears of the Minoans and the Ionians the forebears of the Mycenaeans.

12 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All