The Ocean occupies two-thirds of our planet – but what do we really know about it?
The last unconquered territory on Earth has always intrigued, long before we dive to its deepest depths and take photos of it from space. This wild, untamed environment has long provoked images of hideous monsters and vengeful gods – and with good reason. From a calm still sea on a moonlit night to an inexorable force of destruction within a matter of minutes, the ocean is unpredictable – and dangerous.
The Ancient Greeks feared Poseidon, god of seas and rivers – and the Titan Oceanus, who ruled over that great river that ran around the world. The Romans called him Neptune and, despite their widespread conquest, held a deep mistrust of the Mediterranean Sea.
It is Plato who captures the power of Poseidon in “Timaeus” and “Critias”. He describes the city of Atlantis, an island before the Pillars of Hercules:
“Now in this island of Atlantis there existed a confederation of kings, of great and marvelous power, which held sway over all the island, and over many other islands also and parts of the continent.”
But the tale turns sour. The island was ruled by Poseidon’s twins, Atlas and Eumelus, but the minds of the people turned to rampant conquest. They attacked the Athenians – with terrible consequences:
“But at a later time there occurred portentous earthquakes and floods, and one grievous day and night befell them, when the whole body of your warriors was swallowed up by the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner was swallowed up by the sea and vanished.”
This story comes from the Egyptians, a culture flourishing at the time of telling alongside the Minoans, another advanced Mediterranean civilisation. The similarities amongst disparate cultures at this time could be attributed to one founding wisdom – an advanced culture now lost, perhaps?
Of course, it may just be a story. Plato was trying to prove a philosophical point – perhaps he simply invented the whole thing?
But flood myths are surprisingly pervasive. From Genesis to Ancient Greece to South Asia to the Mayans, the stories of vengeful gods submerging lands – either permanently or temporarily – echo through the ages.
There are also specific myths of sunken cities and islands, from Ys in Brittany to Kumari Kandam, submerged in the Indian Ocean and fabled as the cradle of civilisation. We have evidence of actual sunken cities – Olous in Greece, the Cuban sunken city, and Herakleion-Thonis off the coast of Egypt.
So, what if it’s true? What if Atlantis was a prosperous city that sunk beneath the ocean? That would be the end of the story, right?
What if it wasn’t?
What if Poseidon saved his people from destruction and allowed them to live – but beneath the water? To eek out an existence from the heartless ocean, as their numbers dwindle and they fight to survive?
What if the surface dwellers have caught glimpses of them through the ages?
Welcome to The Underwater Realm.