Imagining Atlantis

Richard Ellis, Author
Richard Ellis, Author Alfred A. Knopf $27.5 (352p) ISBN 978-0-679-44602-6
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-375-70582-3
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Marine painter and explorer Ellis (Deep Atlantic) has produced a gracefully written, authoritative debunking of the myth of a ""lost continent"" of Atlantis. He regards Plato's tale of the flood-related destruction of a wondrous city as a parable on the demise of Periclean Athens, perhaps also as Plato's commentary on the plague that killed one of every four Athenians between 430 and 425 B.C. Tracing the snowballing of this legend in the writings of Sir Francis Bacon, Edward Cayce, Charles Berlitz and others, Ellis dismantles the Atlantean scenarios of occultists and New Agers, as well as the dubious claims of oceanographers, geologists, archeologists and historians who, on the slenderest evidence, have attempted to link Plato's fabled Atlantis with the destruction of Minoan Crete, the volcanic explosion of the island of Thera around 1450 B.C. or other putative sites of lost civilizations. He also examines Atlantis lore in movies, television, science fiction and tourism. Ellis's plausible interpretation of Atlantis as a myth of greed and retribution, a utopian fable adapted by successive cultures to suit their needs, makes his odyssey through the muddy shoals of Atlantean scholarship worthwhile. Photos. (July)
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