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DIODORUS SICULUS ON THE TITAN RULERS OF ATLANTIS

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Gwen Parker
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« on: November 19, 2007, 11:12:02 pm »

DIODORUS SICULUS ON THE TITAN RULERS OF ATLANTIS

Ancient writers, such as Diodorus Siculus, who mention "Atlantis" or the "Atlanteans" are inevitably referring to the native tribes and Phoenician colonies of North-West Africa, in the vicinity of the Atlas mountain range. Some Greek and Roman writers describe this continental region as the largest of the "islands."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 3. 56. 1 - 57. 8 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"But since we have made mention of the Atlantioi (Atlantians) [i.e. their war with the Amazons, see section which follows], we believe that it will not be inappropriate in this place to recount what their myths relate about the genesis of the gods, in view of the fact that it does not differ greatly from the myths of the Greeks. Now the Atlantians, dwelling as they do in the regions on the edge of Okeanos (the Ocean) and inhabiting a fertile territory, are reputed far to excel their neighbours in reverence toward the gods and the humanity they showed in their dealings with strangers, and the gods, they say, were born among them. And their account, they maintain, is in agreement with that of the most renowned of the Greek poets [Homer, Iliad 14.200] when he represents Hera as saying : ‘For I go to see the ends of the bountiful earth, Okeanos source of the gods and Tethys divine their mother.’
This is the account given in their myth : Their first king was Ouranos (Heaven), and he gathered the human beings, who dwelt in scattered habitations, within the shelter of a walled city and caused his subjects to cease from their lawless ways and their bestial manner of living, discovering for them the uses of cultivated fruits, how to store them up, and not a few other things which are of benefit to man; and he also subdued the larger part of the inhabited earth, in particular the regions to the west and the north. And since he was a careful observer of the stars he foretold many things which would take place throughout the world; and for the common people he introduced the year on the basis of the movement of the sun and the months on that of the moon, and instructed them in the seasons which recur year after year. Consequently the masses of the people, being ignorant of the eternal arrangement of the stars and marvelling at the events which were taking place as he had predicted, conceived that the man who taught such things partook of the nature of the gods, and after he had passed from among men they accorded to him immortal honours, both because of his benefactions and because of his knowledge of the stars; and then they transferred his name to the firmament of heaven, both because they thought that he had been so intimately acquainted with the risings and the settings of the stars and with whatever else took place in the firmament, and because they would surpass his benefactions by the magnitude of the honours which they would show him, in that for all subsequent time they proclaimed him to be the king of the universe.
To Ouranos, the myth continues, were born forty-five sons from a number of wives, and, of these, eighteen, it is said, were by Titaia, each of them bearing a distinct name, but all of them as a group were called, after their mother, Titanes. Titaia, because she was prudent and had brought about many good deeds for the peoples, was deified after her death by those whom she had helped and her name was changed to Gę (Earth). To Ouranos were also born daughters, the two eldest of whom were by far the most renowned above the others and were called Basileia and Rhea, whom some also named Pandora. Of these daughters Basileia, who was the eldest and far excelled the others in both prudence and understanding, reared all her brothers, showing them collectively a mother’s kindness; consequently she was given the appellation of ‘Great Mother;’ and after her father had been translated from among men into the circle of the gods, with the approval of the masses and her brothers she succeeded to the royal dignity, though she was still a maiden and because of her exceedingly great chastity had been unwilling to unite in marriage with any man. But later, because of her desire to leave sons who should succeed to the throne, she united in marriage with Hyperion, one of her brothers, for whom she had the greatest affection. And when there were born to her two children, Helios (Sun) and Selenę (Moon), who were greatly admired for both their beauty and their chastity, the brothers of Basileia, they say, being envious of her because of her happy issue of children ad fearing that Hyperion would divert the royal power to himself, committed an utterly impious deed; for entering into a conspiracy among themselves they put Hyperion to the sword, and casting Helios, who was still in years a child, into the Eridanos river, drowned him. When this crime came to light, Selenę, who loved her brother very greatly, threw herself down from the roof, but as for his mother, while seeking his body along the river, her strength left her and falling into a swoon she beheld a vision in which she thought that Helios stood over her and urged her not to mourn the death of her children; for, he said, the Titanes would meet the punishment which they deserve, while he and his sister would be transformed, by some divine providence, into immortal natures, since that which had formerly been called ‘holy fire’ in the heavens would be called by men Helios (‘the sun’) and that addresses as ‘menę’ would be called Selenę (‘the moon’). When she was aroused from the swoon she recounted to the common crowd both the dream and the misfortunes which had befallen her, asking that they render to the dead honours like those accorded to the gods and asserting that no man should thereafter touch her body. And after this she became frenzied, and seizing such of her daughter’s playthings as could make a noise, she began to wander over the land, with her hair hanging free, inspired by the noise of the kettledrums and cymbals, so that those who saw her were struck with astonishment. And all men were filled with pity at her misfortune and some were clinging to her body, when there came a mighty storm and continuous crashes of thunder and lightning; and in the midst of this Basileia passed from sight, whereupon the crowds of people, amazed at this reversal of fortune, transferred the names and the honours of Helios and Selenę to the stars of the sky, and as for their mother, they considered her to be a goddess and erected altars to her, and imitating the incidents of her life by the pounding of the kettledrums and the clash of cymbals they rendered unto her in this way sacrifices and all other honours.”

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Gwen Parker
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« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2007, 11:12:51 pm »

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 3. 60. 1 - 61. 6 :
[After a digression into Phrygian mythology following the passage above, Diodorus continues with his Atlantian story :]
"After the death of Hyperion, the myth relates, the kingdom was divided among the sons of Ouranos, the most renowned of whom were Atlas and Kronos. Of these sons Atlas received as his part the regions on the coast of Okeanos (the Ocean), and he not only gave the name of Atlantioi (Atlantians) to his peoples but likewise called the greatest mountain in the land Atlas. They also say that he perfected the science of astrology and was the first to publish to mankind the doctrine of the sphere; and it was for this reason that the idea was held that he entire heavens were supported upon the shoulders of Atlas, the myth darkly hinting in this way at his discovery and description of the sphere. There were born to him a number of sons, one of whom was distinguished above the others for his piety, justice to his subjects, and love of mankind, his name being Hesperos (Evening-Star). This king, having once climbed to the peak of Mount Atlas, was suddenly snatched away by mighty winds while he was making his observations of the stars, and never was seen again; and because of the virtuous life he had lived and their pity for his sad fate the multitudes accorded to him immortal honours and called the brightest of the stars of heaven after him.
Atlas, the myth goes on to relate, also had seven daughters, who as a group were called Atlantides after their father, but their individual names were Maia, Elektra, Ta˙getę, Steropę, Meropę, Halkyonę, and the last Kelaino. These daughters lay with the most renowned heroes and gods and thus became ancestors of the larger part of the race of human beings, giving birth to those who, because of their high achievements, came to be called gods and heroes; Maia the eldest, for instance, lay with Zeus and bore Hermes, who was the discoverer of many things for the use of mankind; similarly the other Atlantides also gave birth to renowned children, who became the founders in some instances of nations and in other cases of cities. Consequently, not only among certain barbarians but among the Greeks as well, the great majority of the most ancient heroes trace their descent back to the Atlantides. These daughters were also distinguished for their chastity and after their death attained to immortal honour among men, by whom they were both enthroned in the heavens and endowed with the appellation of Pleiades. The Atlantides were also called ‘nymphai’ because the natives of that land addressed their women by the common appellation of ‘nymphe.’
Kronos, the brother of Atlas, the myth continues, who was a man notorious for his impiety and greed, married his sister Rhea, by whom he begat that Zeus who was later called ‘Olympios.’ . . .
Zeus, the son of Kronos, emulated a manner of life the opposite of that led by his father, and since he showed himself honourable and friendly to all, the masses addressed him as ‘father.’ As for his succession to the kingly power, some say that his father yielded it to him of his own accord, but others state that he was chosen as king by the masses because of the hatred they bore towards his father, and that when Kronos made war against him with he aid of the Titanes, Zeus overcame him in battle, and on gaining supreme power visited all the inhabited world, conferring benefactions upon the race of men. He was pre-eminent also in bodily strength and in all the other qualities of virtue and for this reason quickly became master of the entire world. And in general he showed all zeal to punish impious and wicked men and to show kindness to the masses. In return for all this, after he had passed from among men he was given the name of Zęn [from the verb ‘to live’], because he was the cause of right ‘living’ among men, and those who had received his favours showed him honour by enthroning him in the heavens, all men eagerly acclaiming him as god and lord for ever of the whole universe.
These, then, are in summary the facts regarding the teachings of the Atlantioi (Atlantians) about the gods.”


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« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2007, 11:13:48 pm »

DIODORUS SICULUS ON THE ATLANTIAN-AMAZON WAR
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 3. 53. 1 - 55. 3 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"We are told, namely, that there was once in the western parts of Libya, on the bounds of the inhabited world, a race which was ruled by women and followed a manner of life unlike that which prevails among us. For it was the custom among them that the women should practise the arts of war and be required to serve in the army for a fixed period, during which time they maintained their virginity . . .
As mythology relates, their home was on an island which, because it was in the west, was called Hespera (Evening), and it lay in the marsh Tritonis. This marsh was near Okeanos which surrounds the earth and received its name from a certain river Triton which emptied into it; and this marsh was also near Aithiopia and that mountain by the shore of Okeanos which is the highest of those in the vicinity and impinges upon Okeanos and is called by the Greeks Atlas. The island mentioned above was of great size and full of fruit-bearing trees of every kind, from which the natives secured their food . . .
The Amazones, then, the account continues, being a race superior in valour and eager for war, first of all subdued all the cities on the island except one called Menę (Moon), which was considered to be sacred and was inhabited by Aithiopian Ikhthyophagoi, and was also subject to great eruptions of fire and possessed a multitude of the precious stones which the Greeks call anthrax, sardion, and smaragdos; and after this they subdued many of the neighbouring Libyans and nomad tribes, and founded within the marsh Tritonis a great city which they named Kheronesos (Peninsular) after its shape.
Setting out from the city of Kherronesos, the account continues, the Amazones embarked upon great ventures, a longing having come over them to invade many parts of the inhabited world. The first people against whom they advanced, according to the tale, was the Atlantioi (Atlantians), the most civilized men among the inhabitants of those regions, who dwelt in a prosperous country and possessed great cities; it was among them, we are told, that mythology places the birth of the gods, in the regions which lie along the shore of Okeanos, in this respect agreeing with those among the Greeks who relate legends, and about this we shall speak in detail a little later.
Now the queen of the Amazones, Myrina, collected, it is said, an army of thirty thousand foot-soldiers and three thousand cavalry, since they favoured to an unusual degree the use of cavalry in their wars. For protective devices they used the skins of large snakes, since Libya contains such animals of incredible size, and for offensive weapons, swords and lances; they also used bows and arrows, with which they struck not only when facing the enemy but also when in flight, by shooting backwards at their pursuers with good effect. Upon entering the land of the Atlantioi (Atlantians) they defeated in a pitched battle the inhabitants of the city of Kernę, as it is called, and making their way inside the walls along with the fleeing enemy, they got the city into their hands; and desiring to strike terror into the neighbouring peoples they treated the captives savagely, put to the sword the men from the youth upward, led into slavery the children and women, and razed the city. But when the terrible fate of the inhabitants of Kernę became known among their fellow tribesmen, it is related that the Atlantioi (Atlantians), struck with terror, surrendered their cities on terms of capitulation and announced that they would do whatever should be commanded them, and that the queen Myrina, bearing herself honourably towards the Atlantioi, both established friendship with them and founded a city to bear her name [i.e. Myrina] in place of the city which had been razed; and in it she settled both the captives and any native who so desired. Whereupon the Atlantioi presented her with magnificent presents and by public decree voted to her notable honours, and she in return accepted their courtesy and in addition promised that she would show kindness to their nation. And since the natives were often being warred upon by the Gorgones, as they were named, a folk which resided upon their borders, and in general had that people lying in wait to injure them, Myrina, they say, was asked by the Atlantioi to invade the land of the afore-mentioned Gorgones. But when the Gorgones drew up their forces to resist them a mighty battle took place in which the Amazones, gaining the upper hand, slew great numbers of their opponents and took no fewer than three thousand prisoners; and since the rest had fled for refuge into a certain wooded region, Myrina undertook to set fire to the timber, being eager to destroy the race utterly, but when she found that she was unable to succeed in her attempt she retired to the borders of her country . . .
The story is also told that the marsh Tritonis disappeared from sight in the coruse of an earthquake, when those parts of it which lay towards Okeanos were torn asunder.”
[N.B. For the Libyan Amazones, Diodorus combines accounts of the mythical Hesperides and the legendary women warriors of the Makhlyes tribe of Lake Tritonis. The Gorgones are based on the monsters encountered by the hero Perseus, who is actually mentioned in the passage which follows. Here he encounters the Gorgon tribe some time after the Amazon-Atlantian-Gorgon war occurred. Herakles is mentioned in the same context visiting the Hesperides. The Atlantians are either an indigenous people dwelling about Mount Atlas in North Africa or are based on the Phoenician colonies of the region. Diodorus also refers to Plato's story of the sinking of Atlantis in the last line of the passage quoted above. The unusual combination of myths and legends is an Hellenistic Greek attempt to rationalize a variety of stories and present them as true history.]

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« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2007, 11:14:36 pm »

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 3. 10. 11 :
"[Diodorus briefly discusses sources for the ancient Greek histories of Egypt, sub-Saharan Africa, Libya and the Atlas region--the last three are all referred to as 'Aithiopia' :] Concerning the historians, we must distinguish among them, to the effect that many have composed works on both Egypt and Aithiopia, of whom some have given credence to false report and others have invented many tales out of their own minds for the delectation of their readers, and so may justly be distrusted."


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« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2007, 11:15:21 pm »

OTHER ANCIENT WRITERS ON ATLANTIS
Aelian, On Animals 15. 2 (trans. Scholfield) (Greek natural history C2nd A.D.) :
"Those who live on the shores of Okeanos [i.e. on the Atlantic coast of North Africa] tell a fable of how the ancient kings of Atlantis, sprung from the seed of Poseidon, wore upon their head the bands from the male Ram-fish, as an emblem of their authority, while their wives, the queens, wore the curls of the females as a proof of theirs."

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 6. 199 (trans. Rackham) (Roman encyclopedia C1st A.D.) :
"There is reported to be another island off [African] Mount Atlas [in the Atlantic], itself also called Atlantis, from which a two days’ voyage along the coast reaches the desert district in the neighbourhood of the Western Aethiopes [i.e. black Africans] and the cape mentioned above as the Horn of the West, the point at which the coastline begins to curve westward in the direction of the Atlantic."


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« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2007, 11:16:30 pm »

Plutarch, Life of Solon 26. 1 (trans. Perrin) (Greek historian C1st - C2nd A.D.) :
"He [Solon] also spent some time in studies with Psenophis of Heliopolis [in Egypt] and Sonkhis of Sais, who were very learned priests. From these, as Plato says, he heard the story of the lost Atlantis, and tried to introduce it in a poetical form to the Greeks."

Plutarch, Life of Solon 32. 1 :
"Plato, ambitious to elaborate and adorn the subject of the lost Atlantis, as if it were the soil of a fair estate unoccupied, but appropriately his by virtue of some kinship with Solon, began the work by laying out great porches, enclosures, and courtyards, such as no story, tale, or poesy ever had before.  But he was late in beginning, and ended his life before his work. Therefore the greater our delight in what he actually wrote, the greater is our distress in view of what he left undone. For as the Olympieion in the city of Athens, so the tale of the lost Atlantis in the wisdom of Plato is the only one among many beautiful works to remain unfinished."

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« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2007, 11:17:11 pm »

Sources:

Plato, Timaeus - Greek Philosophy C4th B.C.
Plato, Critias - Greek Philosophy C4th B.C.
Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History - Greek History C1st B.C.
Plutarch, Lives - Greek Historian C1st-2nd A.D.
Aelian, On Animals - Greek Natural History C2nd - C3rd A.D.
Pliny the Elder, Natural History - Latin Natural History C1st A.D.

http://www.theoi.com/Phylos/Atlantes.html
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