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Written by Graham on Friday 26th January 2024.

The following text appears in the twelfth book of the 6th century AD Byzantine monk and envoy Cosmas Indicopleustes' Christian Topography. It contains numerous errors (particularly with regards to the high esteem in which Cosmas apparently sees Timaeus enjoying among Greek philosophers). Emphasis is, of course, mine.

In the Chaldaean books of Berosus and certain others it is thus written: that ten kings reigned over the Chaldaeans 2242 myriads of years, but, under their tenth king Xisuthrus, as they called him, there was a great flood, and that Xisuthrus being warned by God embarked in a ship with his wife and kindred and cattle, and that having been brought over in safety, as their story goes, to the mountains of Armenia, he offered sacrifices of thanksgiving to the Gods after the flood. These writers have thus presented in a new form nearly all the account given by Moses; for men continued to live in the earth beyond [the Ocean] 2242 years for a course of ten generations, and, under Noah who was the tenth the flood having occurred, they passed over to this earth by means of the Ark. For Noah is he whom they call Xisuthrus. But by having changed the days into years, they asserted that those ten kings had lived 2242 myriads of years, since the number of years reckoned by Moses to have elapsed from Adam to the deluge of Noah was 2242. In like manner the philosopher Timaeus also describes this earth as surrounded by the Ocean, and the Ocean as surrounded by the more remote earth. For he supposes that there is to westward an island, Atlantis, lying out in the Ocean, in the direction of Gadeira (Cadiz), of an enormous magnitude, and relates that the ten kings having procured mercenaries from the nations in this island came from the earth far away, and conquered Europe and Asia, but were afterwards conquered by the Athenians, while that island itself was submerged by God under the sea. Both Plato and Aristotle praise this philosopher, and Proclus has written a commentary on him. He himself expresses views similar to our own with some modifications, transferring the scene of the events from the east to the west. Moreover he mentions those ten generations as well as that earth which lies beyond the Ocean. And in a word it is evident that all of them borrow from Moses, and publish his statements as their own.


But though they (i.e. the Greeks - Graham) regard themselves as very superior persons and the wisest and foremost of men, they are nevertheless from their swelling vanity ignorant of many things. Wherefore one of the Egyptians, whose name was Solomon, said to Plato: The Greeks are always children, and no Greek is ever old, nor is there any learning among you that is of hoar antiquity. Yet some, for instance Dius and Menander, who translated the antiquities of the Tyrians into the Greek language, in the works they composed bear testimony to Solomon and the Jews; and further, the whole, I may almost say, of Ethiopia, and the regions to the south of it, bear testimony to divine scripture. But the Greeks alone, who are wise in their own conceit, know not wherein their salvation lies. Timaeus alone, who has been already mentioned, drawing from what source I know not, but perhaps from the Chaldaeans, recast the story of those ten kings, feigning that they came from the earth beyond the Ocean into the island of Atlantis, which he says was submerged below the sea, and that taking its inhabitants as mercenaries, and arriving in this earth, they conquered Europe and Asia - all which is a most manifest invention, for as he could not point out the island, he gave out that God had consigned it to a watery grave.

Sir Graham