Mythos 75 – Diodorus Siculus v. Plato


The homeland of the Gorgons wasn’t described any detail, other than being a forested area, which would have included most of the Sahara at the time. The description of the destruction of the marshland that the “continent-island” of Cherronesus was in, seems reminiscent of the end of Atlantis, as was the record of the Amazonian conquest that followed.

As for Myrina, the account continues, she visited the larger part of Libya, and passing over into Egypt she struck a treaty of friendship with Horus, the son of Isis, who was king of Egypt at that time, and then, after making war to the end upon the Arabians and slaying many of them, she subdued Syria; but when the Cilicians came out with presents to meet her and agreed to obey her commands, she left those free who yielded to her of their free will and for this reason these are called to this day the “Free Cilicians.” She also conquered in war the races in the region of the Taurus, peoples of outstanding courage, and descended through Greater Phrygia to the sea; and then she won over the land lying along the coast and fixed the bounds of her campaign at the Caïcus River. And selecting in the territory which she had won by arms sites well suited for the founding of cities, she built a considerable number of them and founded one which bore her own name, but the others she named after the women who held the most important commands, such as Cymê, Pitana, and Prienê.

These, then, are the cities she settled along the sea, but others, and a larger number, she planted in the regions stretching towards the interior. She seized also some of the islands, and Lesbos in particular, on which she founded the city of Mitylenê, which was named after her sister who took part in the campaign. After that, while subduing some of the rest of the islands, she was caught in a storm, and after she had offered up prayers for her safety to the Mother of the Gods, she was carried to one of the uninhabited islands; this island, in obedience to a vision which she beheld in her dreams, she made sacred to this goddess, and set up altars there and offered magnificent sacrifices. She also gave it the name of Samothrace, which means, when translated into Greek, “sacred island,” although some historians say that it was formerly called Samos and was then given the name of Samothrace by Thracians who at one time dwelt on it. However, after the Amazons had returned to the continent, the myth relates, the Mother of the Gods, well pleased with the island, settled in it certain other people, and also her own sons, who are known by the name of Corybantes — who their father was is handed down in their rites as a matter not to be divulged; and she established the mysteries which are now celebrated on the island and ordained by law that the sacred area should enjoy the right of sanctuary.

In these times, they go on to say, Mopsus the Thracian, who had been exiled by Lycurgus, the king of the Thracians, invaded the land of the Amazons with an army composed of fellow-exiles, and with Mopsus on the campaign was also Sipylus the Scythian, who had likewise been exiled from that part of Scythia which borders upon Thrace. There was a pitched battle, Sipylus and Mopsus gained the upper hand, and Myrina, the queen of the Amazons, and the larger part of the rest of her army were slain. In the course of the years, as the Thracians continued to be victorious in their battles, the surviving Amazons finally withdrew again into Libya. And such was the end, as the myth relates, of the campaign which the Amazons of Libya made.- Diodorus Siculus (1)Diodorus Siculus (circa 100 AD) Bibliotheca historica, Book 3, Chapter 55:3-11

This account places the story in a time before Egyptian unification, when Upper Egypt was ruled by the Dynasty of the Disciples of Horus between 18,500 and 5,100 years ago, according to Egyptian Mytho-History.(2)Walter. B. Emery (1961) Archaic Egypt: Culture and Civilization in Egypt Five Thousand Years Ago This war sounds similar to Plato’s brief description of the Atlantean conquest of North Africa and the Mediterranean, ultimately being turned back by the Greeks.

For all that we have here, lying within the mouth of which we speak, is evidently a haven having a narrow entrance; but that yonder is a real ocean, and the land surrounding it may most rightly be called, in the fullest and truest sense, a continent. Now in this island of Atlantis there existed a confederation of kings, of great and marvellous power, which held sway over all the island, and over many other islands also and parts of the continent; and, moreover, of the lands here within the Straits they ruled over Libya as far as Egypt, and over Europe as far as Tuscany. So this host, being all gathered together, made an attempt one time to enslave by one single onslaught both your country and ours and the whole of the territory within the Straits. And then it was, Solon, that the manhood of your State showed itself conspicuous for valor and might in the sight of all the world. For it stood pre-eminent above all in gallantry and all warlike arts, and acting partly as leader of the Greeks, and partly standing alone by itself when deserted by all others, after encountering the deadliest perils, it defeated the invaders and reared a trophy; whereby it saved from slavery such as were not as yet enslaved, and all the rest of us who dwell within the bounds of Heracles it ungrudgingly set free. 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; wherefore also the ocean at that spot has now become impassable and unsearchable, being blocked up by the shoal mud which the island created as it settled down.- Plato (3)Plato (circa 350 BC) Timaeus, 25a-d

Traditional Interpretation of Plato's Island-of-Atlas

Traditional Interpretation of Plato’s Island-of-Atlas

There are obvious differences between Plato’s brief account that was apparently heard by Solon at the Temple of Neith in Egypt, and Diodorus’ much more elaborate Libyan mytho-history. The largest singular difference is Diodorus’ claimed that the conquest of North Africa and beyond was done by the Amazons; the Atlantians being a subject people. In Plato’s account the Atlanteans themselves were the aggressors, and there was no mention of a female dominated society. It is possible that these details did not survive in the Egyptian records. It is equally possible that the idea of an all female army sweeping across the known world did not seem believable to the Egyptian priests, and so was not passed on to Solon. It is unlikely that Plato would have included that aspect of the story in his narrative anyway, as he was using the ancient Empire as the setting for his idealized political state, which included gender equality.

References   [ + ]

1. Diodorus Siculus (circa 100 AD) Bibliotheca historica, Book 3, Chapter 55:3-11
2. Walter. B. Emery (1961) Archaic Egypt: Culture and Civilization in Egypt Five Thousand Years Ago
3. Plato (circa 350 BC) Timaeus, 25a-d