The Walls of Atlantis (cont.)
By Doug Fisher
Based on this corrected layout, here again we find that after crossing the three
harbors we come to a wall as was stated by Critias. If the wall being spoken
of was a fourth located at the sea 50 stades from the third outer harbor, instead of
Figure 3 -
Common misconception of a fourth wall lying 5.7 miles from the
city complex and completely encircling it. Interaction between those living on
this outer wall
and the merchant ships filling the canal would have been minimal, limited to the
entrance of the channel while there would
absolutely no interaction with the ships in the city's outer harbor, seemingly
conflicting with Plato's account.
"And after crossing the three outer harbors, [117e] one found a wall..."
It would have been more accurate to have stated:
"And after crossing the three outer harbors [and passing through the
channel] one found a wall..." Or perhaps even "And after crossing the
three outer harbors one found [the first of two walls...]"
But here is the clincher. If there was a fourth wall and it never came closer
than 5.7 miles from the multi-ringed city and its outermost harbor, instead only
coming in contact with a small portion of the channel at its seaward mouth as that
misinterpretation maintains, portions of the passage would seem a bit disconnected
and unnecessarily added.
"[117e] The whole of this wall had numerous houses built on to it, set close
together; while the sea-way and the largest harbor were filled with ships and
merchants coming from all quarters, which by reason of their multitude caused
clamor and tumult of every description and an unceasing din night and day."
Contextually the surrounding text is focused on a description of the wall and
it follows that this final portion of the passage addressing the endless clamor
should also pertain directly to the wall, describing the constant interaction
between those dwelling on the wall and the merchant ships that filled both the outer
harbor and the 50-stadium channel.
The only such interaction with the alleged fourth wall would be limited to a
very small area at the mouth of the channel near the sea. And in fact if there
were guard towers located on both sides of the entrance into the channel then
there would have been virtually no interaction between those that lived on the
wall and the merchant ships entering the channel. We would have to assume that
an extremely small group of people living on the wall were generating an 'unceasing din night and day'
for all the city at all times of the day. It also makes little sense for Critias
to mention the merchant ships in
the largest harbor since they would not have been visible at all from any point
along this vast wall, let alone for those dwelling on the wall to become so
ecstatic about their activity 5.7 miles away.
At the bottom of figure 3 you can see how truly isolated this
fourth wall would have been from the ships entering the channel and especially
from those ships in the outermost harbor. If you look closely the little white specs
on the blue water represent ships of about 120 feet (37 meters) in length, a general size
for Greek triremes used merely to provide a sense of over all scale.