In contrast to its present acception, the name of the Atlantic Ocean (or “Ocean of the Atlanteans”) embodied the whole ocean that encircled the ancient world (Eurasia and Africa). It consisted of the union of the coterminous Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The Atlantic Ocean of the ancients was also dubbed “Outer Ocean”, “Kronius Ocean”, “Mare Oceanum”, “Mare Magnum” or “World Encircling Ocean”, names that indeed disclose its circular nature.
- Not only Plato, but other contemporary writers such as Herodotus, Aristotle, Hecateus of Miletus and Skylax of Carianda explicitly utilized that name of “Atlantic Ocean”, which indeed dates from before the times of Plato. Plato specifically acknowledges the fact that the name is due to Atlas and the Atlanteans. Earlier authors such as Homer and Hesiod spoke of the Circular Ocean that surrounded the whole (ancient) world and which was the site of some sunken islands or a continent vaguely associated with Atlantis. The notion had come to Greece and Egypt from Indian traditions concerning the Axayana (“World Encircling Ocean”) and the paradisial sunken realms such as the “White Islands” (Saka-dvipa).
- Hindu traditions speak of partly sunken islands of the ocean called by names such as Atala, Patala, Shveta-Dvipa (“Pure Land”) or Saka-Dvipa (“White Islands”). These paradisial islands were the remains of a vast sunken continent which they called Rutas. This sunken continent they sited somewhere in the outer ocean that encircled the (ancient) world. The sinking of this vast continent was ascribed to the collapse of its Holy Mountain, called Meru or Atalas. This collapse also caused the skies to fall and to asphyxiate that paradisial land which subsequently sunk in the (Indian) ocean. It is from this myth of Atala and its Holy Mountain, Atalas, that the Greeks got their myths on Atlas and on Atlantis.
- Greek myths tell the legend of the Atlantides, the seven beautiful daughters of the Titan Atlas, the founding father of Atlantis. The Atlantides are also called Pleiades or Hesperides, and personify the seven Islands of the Blest, which the Greeks obscurely placed in the Outer Ocean (Atlantic). These Islands of the Blest became vaguely confused with the Canary Islands. But after these islands were discovered and proved rather barren, the Atlantic Islands receded to remoter regions, and figured just about everywhere in the ancient maps. But they kept the ancient tradition on the seven islands which were the remains of sunken Atlantis.
- In Greek myths, the Seven Pleiades (or Atlantides) were turned into the famous constellations after they drowned in the Outer Ocean, preferring death to dishonor in the hands of their cruel persecutor, Orion, the Hunter. As the Hesperides, the seven sisters were the guardians of the Seven Islands of the Blest, where stood the Gardens of Atlas, their father. The Garden of the Hesperides was placed, according to Eustatius, in agro Atlantis “in the fields of Atlas” (or Atlantis?), in the neighborhood of Mt. Atlas. More exactly, this fabulous garden was the Garden of Eden of the Judeo-Christians. It was also the Garden of Avalon of the Celts, the Garden of Idun of the Germans, the Hades (or Islands of the Blest) of the ancient Greeks, etc. All these were indeed disguises of Plato’s Atlantis which, after its sinking, became the Realm of the Dead, the paradisial islands that we now equate with Hell.