The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus (ca. 8th century AD) was one of the
most famous historians at that time. He was the author of the “Bibliotheca
Historica“ in which he recorded the legends of the Near East and the
Mediterranean area. Unfortunately, only fifteen out of fourty books have
In his third book, Siculus describes a wild female tribe known as the
Amazons today. He goes on saying that they lived on the farthest outskirts
of Western Libya. Their homeland was a huge and fertile island called
Hespera and was located in the marsh Tritonis. Nowadays, this piece of land
has been identified as a small ancient salt lake beside Syrte Minor in the
northern Sahara desert. Moreover, he says that the marsh Tritonis
disappeared when an earthquake separated the coastal areas.
When the militant Amazons had suppressed all
neighbouring nations they went to war against the most civilized people of
that area, the Atlantioi. In the City of Cerne, the Amazons defeated the
Atlantioi with a force of 30 000 infantry and 3 000 cavalry. The Atlantioi
submitted themselves to the Amazons and reluctantly agreed to do whatever
Myrina, the queen of the Amazons, demanded of them. Myrina showed mercy and
erected a new city on the remnants of Certe which she named Myrina. The
Atlantioi asked the Amazons to advance on the cruel Gorgons (exterminated by
the mythical Perseus), for the Gorgons were a threat to the area’s stability.
The Amazons dared to advance and took 3
000 prisoners but failed in their plan to kill the remaining Gorgons.
also writes that after the death of the Titan Hyperion the world was divided
among the sons of Uranus. In doing so, Cronus and Atlas were given the
regions along the Oceanus. A mountain was named after Atlas and the
inhabitants of that regions were now called Atlantioi. Siculus goes on
saying that the Atlantioi were the native inhabitans and that their big
cities were the birthplaces of the gods. It should be pointed out that in
his “Historia“, the ancient historian Herodot describes the Atlantean people
who lived in the Western Sahara desert.
What is remarkable here is that Atlas, son of Iapetus according to Greek
myths, was the son of Uranus. In his writings on Atlantis, Plato says that
Atlas was the son of Poseidon. According to Greek myths, the correct
genealogy would be as follows: Gaia and Uranus produced Cronus and Iapetus.
Cronus, with his sister Rhea, produced the sea god Poseidon, and Iapetus,
with his niece Clymene, produced the giant Atlas.
The name of the Amazon island is an issue of great importance. According
to Siculus, it was called Hesperus and was home of a great variety of fruit.
Moreover, it was one of Heracles‘ tasks to get the golden apples of the
Hesperides – he fulfilled this task with the help of Atlas who was there to
carry the world. Interestingly enough, in the Garden of the Hesperides, Hera
and Zeus were also given such golden apples by the earth mother Gaia on the
occasion of their marriage. Myths say that the garden of the mythical
Hesperid nymphs was located in the western part of the ocean. Another myth
that revolves around Nyx, the parent goddess, mentions the “Islands of the
Blessed“. Their daughters, the night nymphs, watched over a wonderful fruit
garden with golden fruits. And what is more, the writings of the famous poet
Hesiod (ca.8th century BC) also include the Hesperides. According to him,
the Hesperides were situated “beyond the famous ocean“.
Compiling all given facts leads to the following: situated on the western
outskirts of Europe or in the Atlantic Ocean a fertile island existed. It
was an “abode of the gods“ with big cities and a civilized population. The
people were called Atlantioi or Atlanteans, named after the giant Atlas.
Several myths, each independent from the other, have been dedicated to this
island. From that, one can deduce the influence of this island to the
Accordingly, Plato is not the only to mention an empire west of the
Atlantic Ocean – contrary to what some scholars would have us believe.
Whether it was called the island of the Hesperides, the Island of the
Blessed or Atlantis is not of interest because the Hesperides were daughters
of Atlas and ‘Atlantis‘ literally means ‘daughter of Atlas‘. Even Cronus,
father of Zeus, was banned to the western ocean after his extermination –
maybe back the divine abode, the “Islands of the Blessed“?