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Mistakes in Donovan's Atlantis Song

Thorwald C. Franke © 2010

Unfortunately, Donovan forgot a lot to say about Atlantis, and what he says is wrong in many ways. In the following, we will see, which errors were inserted in comparison with Plato's original Atlantis account, given in the two dialogues Timaeus and Critias.


The continent of Atlantis was an island
Which lay before the great flood
In the area we now call the Atlantic Ocean.

"the great flood": First of all, Plato writes not only of a flood, but especially of earth quakes; additionally he talks of earth quakes and floods in plural, not in singular (Timaeus 25c). Whereas the song text supports the misunderstanding, that Atlantis sank in the biblical flood, Plato's original text provides a totally different perspective. In Critias 108e Plato even talks only of earth quakes and says not a single word about floods.

So great an area of land, that from her western shores
Those beautiful sailors journeyed to the South
And the North Americas with ease
In their ships with painted sails.

"beautiful sailors" and "painted sails": Plato does not write of beautiful men of Atlantis, but of beautiful men in Athens (Critias 112e). Furthermore he does not mention any sailing ships or painted sails, but Triremes, which are driven by rowing (Critias 117d).

To the east, Africa was a neighbor,
Across a short strait of sea miles.

"Africa was a neighbor": According to Plato, the island lay before the straits of Gibraltar (Timaeus 24e), and Plato associates the region of Gadeira in Spain with the name of an Atlantean king (Critias 114b).

The great Egyptian age is but a remnant
Of the Atlantian culture.

"Egyptian age a remnant of the Atlantian culture": This cannot be, since Plato describes the foundation of Athens, Egypt and Atlantis as separate events (e.g. Critias 109b). Furthermore Atlantis waged a war against Egypt, and lost this war (Timaeus 25b+c), so Egypt according to Plato clearly was not a colony of Atlantis.

The antediluvian kings colonized the world;

"antediluvian": Again the misunderstanding, which associates the sinking of Atlantis with the biblical flood.
"colonized the world": Plato describes a kingdom of islands and a conquest within the region of the Mediterranean sea, but not a colonisation of the world (Timaeus 25a+b).

All the Gods who play in the mythological dramas
In all legends from all lands were from fair Atlantis.

"the gods were from Atlantis": Again this is fully wrong. The Atlantean kings were descendants of exactly one real god, Poseidon (Critias 113e), and Plato describes, that the divine heritage in them got lost step by step, until they waged war against Egypt and their downfall (Critias 121a+b). Furthermore the Atlanteans were punished by the gods, so how could they themselves be gods, then? (Critias 121b f.).

Knowing her fate, Atlantis sent out ships to all corners of the Earth.

"Knowing her fate": According to Plato the Atlanteans did not know their fate and did not send out ships to any place. The Atlantean culture got lost (Timaeus 25d), most probably because they were punished by the gods (Critias 121b f.).

On board were the Twelve:
The poet, the physician, the farmer, the scientist, the magician,
And the other so-called Gods of our legends,
Though Gods they were.

"the Twelve": These professions are not mentioned by Plato, and furthermore, there were ten Atlantean kings, not twelve (Critias 113e ff.).

And as the elders of our time choose to remain blind,
Let us rejoice and let us sing and dance and ring in the new ...
Hail Atlantis!

Way down below the ocean, where I wanna be, she may be ...
Way down below the ocean, where I wanna be, she may be ...

My antediluvian baby, oh yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah-yeah,
I want to see you some day.
My antediluvian baby, oh yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah-yeah,
My antediluvian baby.
My antediluvian baby, I love you, girl;
Girl, I want to see you some day.
My antediluvian baby, oh yeah,
I want to see you some day, oh,
My antediluvian baby.
My antediluvian baby, I want to see you;
My antediluvian baby — gotta tell me where she gone —
I want to see you some day,
Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, oh yeah;
Oh glub glub, down down, yeah ...

Last but not least: The original cover of the song's single from 1968 shows two symbols: A cross and a mirror-inverted swastika. Both symbols have nothing to do with Plato's Atlantis. Furthermore the swastika reminds unfortunately to the abuse of Plato's Atlantis by Nazi ideology. What a pity for this nice song!

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