The Antediluvian World
by Ignatius Donnelly


Introduction by J.B. Hare


Ignatius Donnelly (1831-1901), lawyer, land promoter, politician and virtuoso author, is today best known for his pioneering work on the subject of Atlantis, “Atlantis the Antediluvian World” (ATAW). Published in 1882, ATAW is one of the best constructed Atlantis theories, as it makes no recourse to occult or ‘channeled’ information. Donnelly’s lucid style and command of the facts (such as they were) make the book readable and compelling even today.

Donnelly started public service as Lieutenant-Governor of Minnesota, and then was elected to Congress in 1863. While in Washington D.C., he frequented the Library of Congress and did much of the research for ATAW. After returning to private life, he completed ATAW and finally published it in 1882, followed shortly by his other masterpiece ‘Ragnarök, the Age of Fire and Gravel’. Donnelly also wrote ‘The Great Cryptogram’, in which he proposed that Sir Francis Bacon was the real author of Shakespeare’s plays. However it was ATAW that secured Donnelly’s reputation. ATAW was an instant bestseller and has been in print ever since. ATAW inspired generations of occultists who claimed to ‘channel’ the Ultimate Truth from ancient Atlantis.

At the center of Donnelly’s thesis are a set of similarities between widely separated cultures. This he interpreted as evidence that all civilization diffused outward from a central point (a now sunken continent in the mid-Atlantic). He cites mythological, linguistic, ethnographic and other evidence for this theory, which at the time seemed to add up to an airtight case.

Donnelly proposes a literal interpretation of Plato’s account of Atlantis. He also ties Atlantis into the global flood myth-complex. These, until recently, have been two of the most compelling unsolved puzzles of history. What was Plato writing about when he described the prehistoric civilization of Atlantis, which disappeared overnight in a great catastrophe? Was this an actual historical account, or a philosophical fable? And why do widely separated cultures on every continent, Australia, the Americas, Europe and Asia all have a similar myth of a great flood from which only a few humans survived to restart civilization?

It is only in the past half century that proposals based in scientific fact have been proposed to solve these conundrums. It now appears that these two problems may actually be totally unrelated (although both have a spectacular origin related to catastrophes of geological scale).

The most commonly accepted hypothesis is that Plato’s account of Atlantis can be explained by the Thera catastrophe. A thriving Minoan-era culture in the Aegean was destroyed by a volcanic eruption on the scale of Krakatoa or Mt. Saint Helens, on the island of Thera circa 1500 B.C. This catastrophic explosion appears to have coincided with the start of the downfall of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, so it may have been accompanied by ash falls or tsunamis which destroyed coastal towns, reducing the viability of Minoan civilization (the economy was largely based on maritime activities).

The Thera discoveries have been extensively documented; portions of the city on Thera which the explosion covered with lava has been excavated and are eerily similar to Plato’s account. The layout of the Thera city had several circular canals surrounding a central acropolis just as Plato described (reduced in size by a factor of ten). The date was about 900 years prior to Plato, which is also a factor of ten less than the 9000 years that Plato gave for the destruction of Atlantis. So it is now accepted by mainstream archaeologists that an entire civilization could have been destroyed ‘in a single day’.

The global flood myth, although less well understood, may be a recollection of the rapid sea-level changes at the end of the Ice Age, when the sea rose 300 feet within a few hundred years. The chronology of the rise in sea levels 11,500 years ago has been verified recently by radio-isotope studies of ice cores extracted deep from the Greenland ice sheet. Areas significant for human migration such as the Indonesian archipelago, the English Channel, the Bering land-bridge and areas of the Caribbean were all flooded at this time. Ironically, this global flooding occurred fairly close to the time which Plato cited for the destruction of Atlantis (i.e., about 9,500 B.C.). This flooding was rapid only in geologic terms, and would be barely noticable in a human lifespan, except in one case that has come to light.

Recent submarine exploration of the Black Sea between Turkey and the Ukraine indicate that a natural dam at the isthmus leading to the Mediterranean burst during this period. Up to this point the Black Sea was much smaller than it is today. This rapid flooding appears to have overwhelmed a widespread Neolithic culture living in its basin in an extremely short time, possibly days or hours. The survivors may have migrated south to the Fertile Crescent, and the memory of the disaster evolved into the Biblical flood story.

At least Donnelly claimed that Atlantis was in the Atlantic, which at least makes logical sense if you take Plato at his word. The sole weak part of the Thera hypothesis is the hand waving required to explain away Plato’s unambiguous statement that Atlantis was “beyond the pillars of Hercules” and “larger than Libya and Asia [Minor] combined”. It is also remarkable that Plato’s description of the geography of the Atlantic is so accurate. He mentions that there is a continent on the other side of the Atlantic, beyond where Atlantis was situated, and describes the Mediterranean as ‘but a harbor’ compared to the rest of the ocean. This seems to indicate, at the very least, that someone had navigated the Atlantic in antiquity and returned to tell the tale.

Donnelly attaches a lot of significance to the mid-Atlantic ridge, which had just been discovered by the Challenger and Dolphin expeditions. The mid-Atlantic ridge when looked at without the covering ocean looks suggestively like a huge continental mass. However, we know today it is very different in origin: it is the result of the American, European and African tectonic plates colliding. It may be rising (albeit very slowly) instead of sinking. Unfortunately for Atlantis, most of this ridge lies at abysmal depths, and has probably never been above water at any time. This has been confirmed by the extremely deep sediments (hundreds of meters thick) that cover it, which can only be produced by millions of years of inundation.

As time has gone by, every nook and cranny of the globe has been claimed as the ‘real’ Atlantis: Bolivia, the North Sea off Denmark, Indonesia, the Bahamas and Antarctica are some of theories for the location.

Very little actual physical evidence has been presented for solutions other than Thera for the location of Atlantis. We don’t know of any sunken structures off the Azores, which would make the most sense if the mid-Atlantic area was Atlantis. There are submerged cyclopean stone roads in the Bimini area in the Bahamas, which may or may not be natural geological formations. These structures, discovered by scuba divers in 1968, are often cited as fulfilment of a prophecy of Edgar Cayce that Atlantis would be rediscovered (or possibly rise from the ocean depths) in the 1960s. Of course Cayce predicted that California would sink into the ocean about the same time, so I wouldn’t attach too much significance to it.

A reasonable explanation for the Bimini road might be that some unknown ice-age culture constructed the road (possibly for ceremonial reasons) when the sea-level was lower. The Bahamas, today a string of small islands, are surrounded by an extensive shelf area which was a fairly large island (the size of Cuba) during the ice-ages. Megalithic cultures in Malta were building similar structures at about the same time, so this was technologically feasible for the period. It doesn’t mean that this culture were the elusive Atlanteans, nor does it require any kind of extraterrestrial or advanced technology.

As noted, some have hypothesized that the Bimini road is just a natural geological formation. However, recent submerged finds off the coast of Japan which appear to be a megalithic ceremonial center reinforce the fact that we don’t yet have all of the evidence.

The North Sea was also flooded at the end of the Ice Ages and was certainly occupied by humans, as shown by the artifacts that come up in fishing nets occasionally. However there is no evidence that the inhabitants of the now sunken North Sea areas were anything but nomadic hunter-gatherers.

As far as documentary evidence goes, the 15th century Piri Reis map is often cited as evidence of a technologically advanced prehistoric civilization. This Turkish map, which is reputedly based on a collection of earlier maps, apparently shows a surprisingly accurate representation of the coast of Antarctica–free of ice. It also purportedly shows accurate features of the North and South American continents which had not been explored by Europeans at the time.

As Antarctica was only recently discovered by modern explorers, and the coast has been covered with ice for a very long time (possibly hundreds of thousands of years), this is anomalous, to say the least. A vast southern continent resembling Antarctica was sketched in on maps from very ancient times; but this might be just a lucky guess. However, this “Terra Incognita Australis” was just a fantasy land at the edges of the map, with landforms that bear no resemblance to reality. The Piri Reis map appears to match modern knowledge of the subglacial coastline.

The position of the followers of Charles Hapgood (who studied the map extensively in the 1950s) is that the Earth’s crust shifted in the year 9600 B.C. At this time, Antarctica shifted several hundred miles south. Prior to the shift an ice-free Antarctica was home to–you guessed it, the Atlanteans. The publication of this theory ended Hapgood’s academic career, despite support from none other than Albert Einstein. Hapgood’s books ‘the Earth’s Shifting Crust’, ‘the Path of the Pole’, and the recently republished ‘Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings’ are required reading for anyone interested in lost continents. Recently Rand and Rose Flem-Ath have picked up the torch with their excellent book ‘When the Sky Fell’. Hapgood and the Flem-Aths support a modern version of the diffusionist theory of culture.

Donnelly’s diffusionist argument is based on an extensive but ultimately flimsy collation of poorly understood ethnographic, mythological and linguistic evidence that unfortunately has not stood the test of time. Much of the underpinnings of his thesis have been completely discredited. One prime example is the bogus Bishop Landa Mayan alphabet on which he bases an entire labored chapter trying to prove that the Atlanteans invented writing.

The diffusion theory which Donnelly develops in the last two thirds of ATAW is today very out of favor. Such items as the couvade, polytheism, burial and marriage customs, and circumcision rituals cited by Donnelly do not prove that all culture spread out from one center in the (comparatively recent) past. Some of these cultural traits may go back as far as the Paleolithic.

Furthermore, most of the linguistic evidence that Donnelly cites would not even stand up to 19th century methodology. He cites a jumble of accidental word similarities between unrelated languages, throwing in examples from Indo-European (which of course, are related); this creates an optical illusion of similarity where there is none. He makes no attempt to find a systematic connection between the vocabularies he presents. This is not to say that there might not be a connection between the languages he cites; it’s just that Donnelly presents no scientific, etymological proof that there is any. The balance of the linguistic evidence that he presents is just hearsay or speculation by non-experts.

It is now known that there was not exactly an airtight separation between the Old World and the New. Today even very conservative historians are comfortable with the idea that the Norse got to America earlier than Columbus, because of firm documentation and archaeological evidence from Newfoundland. There is accepted evidence (because of Thor Heyerdahl’s expeditions and research) that the Polynesians and South Americans, and possibly the Egyptians and the Meso-Americans could have had trans-ocean contact.

There is also a body of controversial but not completely implausible cultural, archeological and documentary evidence that Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Sub-Saharan Africans, Welsh, Irish, Japanese, and Chinese could have had contacts with New World cultures. There are quite a few (possibly hoaxed, possibly not) New World runic inscriptions, particularly in New England and the Great Lakes area. Other inscriptions resembling Phoenician have turned up in the New World. There are statues with African features in the Yucatan. Conversely, traces of tobacco and coca have turned up in Egyptian tombs, plants which were only thought to have existed on the other side of the Atlantic at the time. There are legends of Chinese explorers reaching the American southwest in antiquity. As the Chinese during their exploratory period sailed as far as Madagascar, this is not entirely out of the question. Recently a book was published suggesting links between the Zuñis and the Japanese, and the author was treated receptively by academic reviewers. In addition, some have suggested that there may have been very early oceanic migration into the New World from the European side of the Atlantic.

This is a fascinating subject, and makes for interesting speculation. However, nobody is claiming that this is evidence for a global Atlantean Empire, as Donnelly did.

Some parts of Donnelly’s writing today appear naively racist by today’s standards. He seems unduly concerned about documenting minor variations in skin color, the lighter the better. He has occasionally been accused of being a racist or an anti-semite, based on out-of-context quotes. To set the record straight, during Donnelly’s career in the Civil War era US House of Representatives he was a strong Lincoln loyalist and very vocal about the preserving the Union. After the publication of ATAW he became a leading figure in the Farmers’ Alliance, which later became the Populist Party, and wrote the platform for the Populist Party in the election of 1892. Donnelly was an early representative of the progressive political heritage of the upper midwest, the forerunner of such figures as Paul Wellstone. Keep in mind that by the standards of his time he was very progressive. And obviously we can’t hold him to a rigorous standard of 21st century political correctness.

However, the most flawed aspects of Donnelly’s diffusionist theory have been (consciously or unconsciously) echoed by such modern authors as Von Daniken and Zecharia Sitchen. These authors just substitute ‘Extraterrestrial’ for ‘Atlantean’. Unfortunately, they end up aping the worst aspects of the theory. Von Daniken finds it hard to believe that ‘primitive’ cultures such as the Meso- and South Americans could construct pyramids, erect cyclopean and megalithic stonework, invent writing, an accurate calendar, and a numeric system with a representation for ‘zero’. Why does there have to be some outside influence, be it Atlanteans, Great White Brothers or Extraterrestrials? I say this reeks of first world chauvinism, regardless of whether the Earth has been ‘visited’.

So most of Donnelly’s argument has been invalidated. Why then does this book continue to be so compelling? Perhaps it is because we don’t want Atlantis to go away. The image is seductive; the idea that somewhere there is a completely undiscovered lost civilization brimming with artifacts made from precious metals brings out the Indiana Jones in all of us.

 

http://www.sacred-texts.com/atl/ataw/index.htm

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ATLANTIS

THE ANTEDILUVIAN WORLD.

BY

IGNATIUS DONNELLY.

The world has made such comet-like advance
Lately on science, we may almost hope,
Before we die of sheer decay, to learn
Something about our infancy; when lived
That great, original, broad-eyed, sunken race,
Whose knowledge, like the sea-sustaining rocks,
Hath formed the base of this world’s fluctuous lore
FESTUS.

Frontpiece: The Profile of Atlantis

CONTENTS.

PART I.

THE HISTORY OF ATLANTIS.

I. THE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK

II. PLATO’S HISTORY OF ATLANTIS

III. THE PROBABILITIES OF PLATO’S STORY

IV. WAS SUCH A CATASTROPHE POSSIBLE?

V. THE TESTIMONY OF THE SEA

VI. THE TESTIMONY OF THE FLORA AND FAUNA

PART II.

THE DELUGE.

I. THE DESTRUCTION OF ATLANTIS DESCRIBED IN THE DELUGE LEGENDS

II. THE DELUGE OF THE BIBLE

III. THE DELUGE OF THE CHALDEANS

IV. THE DELUGE LEGENDS OF OTHER NATIONS

V. THE DELUGE LEGENDS OF AMERICA

VI. SOME CONSIDERATION OF THE DELUGE LEGENDS

PART III

THE CIVILIZATION OF THE OLD WORLD AND NEW COMPARED.

I. CIVILIZATION AN INHERITANCE

II. THE IDENTITY OF THE CIVILIZATIONS OF THE OLD WORLD AND THE NEW

III. AMERICAN EVIDENCES OF INTERCOURSE WITH EUROPE OR ATLANTIS

IV. CORROBORATING CIRCUMSTANCES

V. THE QUESTION OF COMPLEXION

VI. GENESIS CONTAINS A HISTORY OF ATLANTIS

VII. THE: ORIGIN OF OUR ALPHABET

VIII. THE BRONZE AGE IN EUROPE

IX. ARTIFICIAL DEFORMATION OF THE SKULL

PART IV.

THE MYTHOLOGIES OF THE OLD WORLD A RECOLLECTION OF ATLANTIS.

I. TRADITIONS OF ATLANTIS

II. THE KINGS OF ATLANTIS BECOME THE GODS OF THE GREEKS

III. THE GODS OF THE PHŒNICIANS ALSO KINGS OF ATLANTIS

IV. THE GOD ODIN, WODEN, OR WOTAN

V. THE PYRAMID, THE CROSS, AND THE GARDEN OF EDEN

VI. GOLD AND SILVER THE SACRED METALS OF ATLANTIS

PART V.

THE COLONIES OF ATLANTIS.

I. THE CENTRAL AMERICAN AND MEXICAN COLONIES

II. THE EGYPTIAN COLONY

III. THE COLONIES OF THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY

IV. THE IBERIAN COLONIES OF ATLANTIS

V. THE PERUVIAN COLONY

VI. THE AFRICAN COLONIES

VII. THE IRISH COLONIES FROM ATLANTIS

VIII. THE OLDEST SON OF NOAH

IX. THE ANTIQUITY OF SOME OF OUR GREAT INVENTIONS

X. THE ARYAN COLONIES FROM ATLANTIS

XI. ATLANTIS RECONSTRUCTED

ATLANTIS:

THE ANTEDILUVIAN WORLD.

PART I. THE HISTORY OF ATLANTIS.


CHAPTER I.

THE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK.

This book is an attempt to demonstrate several distinct and novel
propositions. These are:

1. That there once existed in the Atlantic Ocean, opposite the mouth of
the Mediterranean Sea, a large island, which was the remnant of an
Atlantic continent, and known to the ancient world as Atlantis.

2. That the description of this island given by Plato is not, as has
been long supposed, fable, but veritable history.

3. That Atlantis was the region where man first rose from a state of
barbarism to civilization.

4. That it became, in the course of ages, a populous and mighty nation,
from whose overflowings the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, the
Mississippi River, the Amazon, the Pacific coast of South America, the
Mediterranean, the west coast of Europe and Africa, the Baltic, the
Black Sea, and the Caspian were populated by civilized nations.

5. That it was the true Antediluvian world; the Garden of Eden; the
Gardens of the Hesperides; the Elysian Fields; the Gardens of Alcinous;
the Mesomphalos; the Olympos; the Asgard of the traditions of the
ancient nations; representing a universal memory of a great land, where
early mankind dwelt for ages in peace and happiness.

6. That the gods and goddesses of the ancient Greeks, the Phœnicians,
the Hindoos, and the Scandinavians were simply the kings, queens, and
heroes of Atlantis; and the acts attributed to them in mythology are a
confused recollection of real historical events.

7. That the mythology of Egypt and Peru represented the original
religion of Atlantis, which was sun-worship.

8. That the oldest colony formed by the Atlanteans was probably in
Egypt, whose civilization was a reproduction of that of the Atlantic
island.

9. That the implements of the “Bronze Age” of Europe were derived from
Atlantis. The Atlanteans were also the first manufacturers of iron.

10. That the Phœnician alphabet, parent of all the European alphabets,
was derived from an Atlantis alphabet, which was also conveyed from
Atlantis to the Mayas of Central America.

11. That Atlantis was the original seat of the Aryan or Indo-European
family of nations, as well as of the Semitic peoples, and possibly also
of the Turanian races.

12. That Atlantis perished in a terrible convulsion of nature, in which
the whole island sunk into the ocean, with nearly all its inhabitants.

13. That a few persons escaped in ships and on rafts, and, carried to
the nations east and west the tidings of the appalling catastrophe,
which has survived to our own time in the Flood and Deluge legends of
the different nations of the old and new worlds.

If these propositions can be proved, they will solve many problems which
now perplex mankind; they will confirm in many respects the statements
in the opening chapters of Genesis; they will widen the area of human
history; they will explain the remarkable resemblances which exist
between the ancient civilizations found upon the opposite shores of the
Atlantic Ocean, in the old and new worlds; and they will aid us to
rehabilitate the fathers of our civilization, our blood, and our
fundamental ideas-the men who lived, loved, and labored ages before the
Aryans descended upon India, or the Phœnician had settled in Syria, or
the Goth had reached the shores of the Baltic.

The fact that the story of Atlantis was for thousands of years regarded
as a fable proves nothing. There is an unbelief which grows out of
ignorance, as well as a scepticism which is born of intelligence. The
people nearest to the past are not always those who are best informed
concerning the past.

For a thousand years it was believed that the legends of the buried
cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were myths: they were spoken of as
“the fabulous cities.” For a thousand years the educated world did not
credit the accounts given by Herodotus of the wonders of the ancient
civilizations of the Nile and of Chaldea. He was called “the father of
liars.” Even Plutarch sneered at him. Now, in the language of Frederick
Schlegel, “the deeper and more comprehensive the researches of the
moderns have been, the more their regard and esteem for Herodotus has
increased.” Buckle says, “His minute information about Egypt and Asia
Minor is admitted by all geographers.”

There was a time when the expedition sent out by Pharaoh Necho to
circumnavigate Africa was doubted, because the explorers stated that
after they had progressed a certain distance the sun was north of them;
this circumstance, which then aroused suspicion, now proves to us that
the Egyptian navigators had really passed the equator, and anticipated
by 2100 years Vasquez de Gama in his discovery of the Cape of Good Hope.

If I succeed in demonstrating the truth of the somewhat startling
propositions with which I commenced this chapter, it will only be by
bringing to bear upon the question of Atlantis a thousand converging
lines of light from a multitude of researches made by scholars in
different fields of modern thought. Further investigations and
discoveries will, I trust, confirm the correctness of the conclusions at
which I have arrived.

CHAPTER II.

PLATO’S HISTORY OF ATLANTIS.

Plato has preserved for us the history of Atlantis. If our views are
correct, it is one of the most valuable records which have come down to
us from antiquity.

Plato lived 400 years before the birth of Christ. His ancestor, Solon,
was the great law-giver of Athens 600 years before the Christian era.
Solon visited Egypt. Plutarch says, “Solon attempted in verse a large
description, or rather fabulous account of the Atlantic Island, which he
had learned from the wise men of Sais, and which particularly concerned
the Athenians; but by reason of his age, not want of leisure (as Plato
would have it), he was apprehensive the work would be too much for him,
and therefore did not go through with it. These verses are a proof that
business was not the hinderance:

“‘I grow in learning as I grow in age.’

And again:

“‘Wine, wit, and beauty still their charms bestow,
Light all the shades of life, and cheer us as we go.’

“Plato, ambitious to cultivate and adorn the subject of the Atlantic
Island, as a delightful spot in some fair field unoccupied, to which
also he had some claim by reason of his being related to Solon, laid out
magnificent courts and enclosures, and erected a grand entrance to it,
such as no other story, fable, or Poem ever had. But, as he began it
late, he ended his life before the work, so that the more the reader is
delighted with the part that is written, the more regret he has to find
it unfinished.”

READ  1999: A Detailed Description of the of Atlantis & the Real Reason For Its Downfall

There can be no question that Solon visited Egypt. The causes of his
departure from Athens, for a period of ten years, are fully explained by
Plutarch. He dwelt, he tells us,

“On the Canopian shore, by Nile’s deep mouth.”

There be conversed upon points of philosophy and history with the most
learned of the Egyptian priests. He was a man of extraordinary force and
penetration of mind, as his laws and his sayings, which have been
preserved to us, testify. There is no improbability in the statement
that he commenced in verse a history and description of Atlantis, which
he left unfinished at his death; and it requires no great stretch of the
imagination to believe that this manuscript reached the hands of his
successor and descendant, Plato; a scholar, thinker, and historian like
himself, and, like himself, one of the profoundest minds of the ancient
world. The Egyptian priest had said to Solon, “You have no antiquity of
history, and no history of antiquity;” and Solon doubtless realized
fully the vast importance of a record which carried human history back,
not only thousands of years before the era of Greek civilization, but
many thousands of years before even the establishment of the kingdom of
Egypt; and he was anxious to preserve for his half-civilized countrymen
this inestimable record of the past.

We know of no better way to commence a book about Atlantis than by
giving in full the record preserved by Plato. It is as follows:

Critias. Then listen, Socrates, to a strange tale, which is, however,
certainly true, as Solon, who was the wisest of the seven sages,
declared. He was a relative and great friend of my great-grandfather,
Dropidas, as he himself says in several of his poems; and Dropidas told
Critias, my grandfather, who remembered, and told us, that there were of
old great and marvellous actions of the Athenians, which have passed
into oblivion through time and the destruction of the human race and one
in particular, which was the greatest of them all, the recital of which
will be a suitable testimony of our gratitude to you….

Socrates. Very good; and what is this ancient famous action of which
Critias spoke, not as a mere legend, but as a veritable action of the
Athenian State, which Solon recounted!

Critias. I will tell an old-world story which I heard from an aged man;
for Critias was, as he said, at that time nearly ninety years of age,
and I was about ten years of age. Now the day was that day of the
Apaturia which is called the registration of youth; at which, according
to custom, our parents gave prizes for recitations, and the poems of
several poets were recited by us boys, and many of us sung the poems of
Solon, which were new at the time. One of our tribe, either because this
was his real opinion, or because he thought that he would please
Critias, said that, in his judgment, Solon was not only the wisest of
men but the noblest of poets. The old man, I well remember, brightened
up at this, and said, smiling: “Yes, Amynander, if Solon had only, like
other poets, made poetry the business of his life, and had completed the
tale which he brought with him from Egypt, and had not been compelled,
by reason of the factions and troubles which he found stirring in this
country when he came home, to attend to other matters, in my opinion he
would have been as famous as Homer, or Hesiod, or any poet.”

“And what was that poem about, Critias?” said the person who addressed
him.

“About the greatest action which the Athenians ever did, and which ought
to have been most famous, but which, through the lapse of time and the
destruction of the actors, has not come down to us.”

“Tell us,” said the other, “the whole story, and bow and from whom Solon
heard this veritable tradition.”

He replied: “At the head of the Egyptian Delta, where the river Nile
divides, there is a certain district which is called the district of
Sais, and the great city of the district is also called Sais, and is the
city from which Amasis the king was sprung. And the citizens have a
deity who is their foundress: she is called in the Egyptian tongue
Neith, which is asserted by them to be the same whom the Hellenes called
Athene. Now, the citizens of this city are great lovers of the
Athenians, and say that they are in some way related to them. Thither
came Solon, who was received by them with great honor; and he asked the
priests, who were most skilful in such matters, about antiquity, and
made the discovery that neither he nor any other Hellene knew anything
worth mentioning about the times of old. On one occasion, when he was
drawing them on to speak of antiquity, he began to tell about the most
ancient things in our part of the world–about Phoroneus, who is called
‘the first,’ and about Niobe; and, after the Deluge, to tell of the
lives of Deucalion and Pyrrha; and he traced the genealogy of their
descendants, and attempted to reckon bow many years old were the events
of which he was speaking, and to give the dates. Thereupon, one of the
priests, who was of very great age; said, ‘O Solon, Solon, you Hellenes
are but children, and there is never an old man who is an Hellene.’
Solon, bearing this, said, ‘What do you mean?’ ‘I mean to say,’ he
replied, ‘that in mind you are all young; there is no old opinion handed
down among you by ancient tradition, nor any science which is hoary with
age. And I will tell you the reason of this: there have been, and there
will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes.
There is a story which even you have preserved, that once upon a time
Phaëthon, the son of Helios, having yoked the steeds in his father’s
chariot, because he was not able to drive them in the path of his
father, burnt up all that was upon the earth, and was himself destroyed
by a thunderbolt. Now, this has the form of a myth, but really signifies
a declination of the bodies moving around the earth and in the heavens,
and a great conflagration of things upon the earth recurring at long
intervals of time: when this happens, those who live upon the mountains
and in dry and lofty places are more liable to destruction than those
who dwell by rivers or on the sea-shore; and from this calamity the
Nile, who is our never-failing savior, saves and delivers us. When, on
the other hand, the gods purge the earth with a deluge of water, among
you herdsmen and shepherds on the mountains are the survivors, whereas
those of you who live in cities are carried by the rivers into the sea;
but in this country neither at that time nor at any other does the water
come from above on the fields, having always a tendency to come up from
below, for which reason the things preserved here are said to be the
oldest. The fact is, that wherever the extremity of winter frost or of
summer sun does not prevent, the human race is always increasing at
times, and at other times diminishing in numbers. And whatever happened
either in your country or in ours, or in any other region of which we
are informed–if any action which is noble or great, or in any other way
remarkable has taken place, all that has been written down of old, and
is preserved in our temples; whereas you and other nations are just
being provided with letters and the other things which States require;
and then, at the usual period, the stream from heaven descends like a
pestilence, and leaves only those of you who are destitute of letters
and education; and thus you have to begin all over again as children,
and know nothing of what happened in ancient times, either among us or
among yourselves. As for those genealogies of yours which you have
recounted to us, Solon, they are no better than the tales of children;
for, in the first place, you remember one deluge only, whereas there
were many of them; and, in the next place, you do not know that there
dwelt in your land the fairest and noblest race of men which ever lived,
of whom you and your whole city are but a seed or remnant. And this was
unknown to you, because for many generations the survivors of that
destruction died and made no sign. For there was a time, Solon, before
that great deluge of all, when the city which now is Athens was first in
war, and was preeminent for the excellence of her laws, and is said to
have performed the noblest deeds, and to have had the fairest
constitution of any of which tradition tells, under the face of heaven.’
Solon marvelled at this, and earnestly requested the priest to inform
him exactly and in order about these former citizens. ‘You are welcome
to hear about them, Solon,’ said the priest, ‘both for your own sake and
for that of the city; and, above all, for the sake of the goddess who is
the common patron and protector and educator of both our cities. She
founded your city a thousand years before ours, receiving from the Earth
and Hephæstus the seed of your race, and then she founded ours, the
constitution of which is set down in our sacred registers as 8000 years
old. As touching the citizens of 9000 years ago, I will briefly inform
you of their laws and of the noblest of their actions; and the exact
particulars of the whole we will hereafter go through at our leisure, in
the sacred registers themselves. If you compare these very laws with
your own, you will find that many of ours are the counterpart of yours,
as they were in the olden time. In the first place, there is the caste
of priests, which is separated from all the others; next there are the
artificers, who exercise their several crafts by themselves, and without
admixture of any other; and also there is the class of shepherds and
that of hunters, as well as that of husbandmen; and you will observe,
too, that the warriors in Egypt are separated from all the other
classes, and are commanded by the law only to engage in war; moreover,
the weapons with which they are equipped are shields and spears, and
this the goddess taught first among you, and then in Asiatic countries,
and we among the Asiatics first adopted.

“‘Then, as to wisdom, do you observe what care the law took from the
very first, searching out and comprehending the whole order of things
down to prophecy and medicine (the latter with a view to health); and
out of these divine elements drawing what was needful for human life,
and adding every sort of knowledge which was connected with them. All
this order and arrangement the goddess first imparted to you when
establishing your city; and she chose the spot of earth in which you
were born, because she saw that the happy temperament of the seasons in
that land would produce the wisest of men. Wherefore the goddess, who
was a lover both of war and of wisdom, selected, and first of all
settled that spot which was the most likely to produce men likest
herself. And there you dwelt, having such laws as these and still better
ones, and excelled all mankind in all virtue, as became the children and
disciples of the gods. Many great and wonderful deeds are recorded of
your State in our histories; but one of them exceeds all the rest in
greatness and valor; for these histories tell of a mighty power which
was aggressing wantonly against the whole of Europe and Asia, and to
which your city put an end. This power came forth out of the Atlantic
Ocean, for in those days the Atlantic was navigable; and there was an
island situated in front of the straits which you call the Columns of
Heracles: the island was larger than Libya and Asia put together, and
was the way to other islands, and from the islands you might pass
through the whole of the opposite continent which surrounded the true
ocean; for this sea which is within the Straits of Heracles is only a
harbor, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a real sea, and the
surrounding land may be most truly called a continent. Now, in the
island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire, which had
rule over the whole island and several others, as well as over parts of
the continent; and, besides these, they subjected the parts of Libya
within the Columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as
Tyrrhenia. The vast power thus gathered into one, endeavored to subdue
at one blow our country and yours, and the whole of the land which was
within the straits; and then, Solon, your country shone forth, in the
excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind; for she was
the first in courage and military skill, and was the leader of the
Hellenes. And when the rest fell off from her, being compelled to stand
alone, after having undergone the very extremity of danger, she defeated
and triumphed over the invaders, and preserved from slavery those who
were not yet subjected, and freely liberated all the others who dwelt
within the limits of Heracles. But afterward there occurred violent
earthquakes and floods, and in a single day and night of rain all your
warlike men in a body sunk into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in
like manner disappeared, and was sunk beneath the sea. And that is the
reason why the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable,
because there is such a quantity of shallow mud in the way; and this was
caused by the subsidence of the island.’ (“Plato’s Dialogues,” ii., 617,
Timæus.) . . .

“But in addition to the gods whom you have mentioned, I would specially
invoke Mnemosyne; for all the important part of what I have to tell is
dependent on her favor, and if I can recollect and recite enough of what
was said by the priests, and brought hither by Solon, I doubt not that I
shall satisfy the requirements of this theatre. To that task, then, I
will at once address myself.

“Let me begin by observing, first of all, that nine thousand was the sum
of years which had elapsed since the war which was said to have taken
place between all those who dwelt outside the Pillars of Heracles and
those who dwelt within them: this war I am now to describe. Of the
combatants on the one side the city of Athens was reported to have been
the ruler, and to have directed the contest; the combatants on the other
side were led by the kings of the islands of Atlantis, which, as I was
saying, once had an extent greater than that of Libya and Asia; and,
when afterward sunk by an earthquake, became an impassable barrier of
mud to voyagers sailing from hence to the ocean. The progress of the
history will unfold the various tribes of barbarians and Hellenes which
then existed, as they successively appear on the scene; but I must begin
by describing, first of all, the Athenians as they were in that day, and
their enemies who fought with them; and I shall have to tell of the
power and form of government of both of them. Let us give the precedence
to Athens. . . .

“Many great deluges have taken place during the nine thousand years, for
that is the number of years which have elapsed since the time of which I
am speaking; and in all the ages and changes of things there has never
been any settlement of the earth flowing down from the mountains, as in
other places, which is worth speaking of; it has always been carried
round in a circle, and disappeared in the depths below. The consequence
is that, in comparison of what then was, there are remaining in small
islets only the bones of the wasted body, as they may be called, all the
richer and softer parts of the soil having fallen away, and the mere
skeleton of the country being left. . . .

“And next, if I have not forgotten what I heard when I was a child, I
will impart to you the character and origin of their adversaries; for
friends should not keep their stories to themselves, but have them in
common. Yet, before proceeding farther in the narrative, I ought to warn
you that you must not be surprised if you should bear Hellenic names
given to foreigners. I will tell you the reason of this: Solon, who was
intending to use the tale for his poem, made an investigation into the
meaning of the names, and found that the early Egyptians, in writing
them down, had translated them into their own language, and he recovered
the meaning of the several names and retranslated them, and copied them
out again in our language. My great-grandfather, Dropidas, had the
original writing, which is still in my possession, and was carefully
studied by me when I was a child. Therefore, if you bear names such as
are used in this country, you must not be surprised, for I have told you
the reason of them.

“The tale, which was of great length, began as follows: I have before
remarked, in speaking of the allotments of the gods, that they
distributed the whole earth into portions differing in extent, and made
themselves temples and sacrifices. And Poseidon, receiving for his lot
the island of Atlantis, begat children by a mortal woman, and settled
them in a part of the island which I will proceed to describe. On the
side toward the sea, and in the centre of the whole island, there was a
plain which is said to have been the fairest of all plains, and very
fertile. Near the plain again, and also in the centre of the island, at
a distance of about fifty stadia, there was a mountain, not very high on
any side. In this mountain there dwelt one of the earth-born primeval
men of that country, whose name was Evenor, and he had a wife named
Leucippe, and they had an only daughter, who was named Cleito. The
maiden was growing up to womanhood when her father and mother died;
Poseidon fell in love with her, and had intercourse with her; and,
breaking the ground, enclosed the hill in which she dwelt all round,
making alternate zones of sea and land, larger and smaller, encircling
one another; there were two of land and three of water, which he turned
as with a lathe out of the centre of the island, equidistant every way,
so that no man could get to the island, for ships and voyages were not
yet heard of. He himself, as he was a god, found no difficulty in making
special arrangements for the centre island, bringing two streams of
water under the earth, which he caused to ascend as springs, one of warm
water and the other of cold, and making every variety of food to spring
up abundantly in the earth. He also begat and brought up five pairs of
male children, dividing the island of Atlantis into ten portions: he
gave to the first-born of the eldest pair his mother’s dwelling and the
surrounding allotment, which was the largest and best, and made him king
over the rest; the others he made princes, and gave them rule over many
men and a large territory. And he named them all: the eldest, who was
king, he named Atlas, and from him the whole island and the ocean
received the name of Atlantic. To his twin-brother, who was born after
him, and obtained as his lot the extremity of the island toward the
Pillars of Heracles, as far as the country which is still called the
region of Gades in that part of the world, he gave the name which in the
Hellenic language is Eumelus, in the language of the country which is
named after him, Gadeirus. Of the second pair of twins, he called one
Ampheres and the other Evæmon. To the third pair of twins he gave the
name Mneseus to the elder, and Autochthon to the one who followed him.
Of the fourth pair of twins he called the elder Elasippus and the
younger Mestor. And of the fifth pair he gave to the elder the name of
Azaes, and to the younger Diaprepes. All these and their descendants
were the inhabitants and rulers of divers islands in the open sea; and
also, as has been already said, they held sway in the other direction
over the country within the Pillars as far as Egypt and Tyrrhenia. Now
Atlas had a numerous and honorable family, and his eldest branch always
retained the kingdom, which the eldest son handed on to his eldest for
many generations; and they had such an amount of wealth as was never
before possessed by kings and potentates, and is not likely ever to be
again, and they were furnished with everything which they could have,
both in city and country. For, because of the greatness of their empire,
many things were brought to them from foreign countries, and the island
itself provided much of what was required by them for the uses of life.
In the first place, they dug out of the earth whatever was to be found
there, mineral as well as metal, and that which is now only a name, and
was then something more than a name–orichalcum–was dug out of the
earth in many parts of the island, and, with the exception of gold, was
esteemed the most precious of metals among the men of those days. There
was an abundance of wood for carpenters’ work, and sufficient
maintenance for tame and wild animals. Moreover, there were a great
number of elephants in the island, and there was provision for animals
of every kind, both for those which live in lakes and marshes and
rivers, and also for those which live in mountains and on plains, and
therefore for the animal which is the largest and most voracious of
them. Also, whatever fragrant things there are in the earth, whether
roots, or herbage, or woods, or distilling drops of flowers or fruits,
grew and thrived in that land; and again, the cultivated fruit of the
earth, both the dry edible fruit and other species of food, which we
call by the general name of legumes, and the fruits having a hard rind,
affording drinks, and meats, and ointments, and good store of chestnuts
and the like, which may be used to play with, and are fruits which spoil
with keeping–and the pleasant kinds of dessert which console us after
dinner, when we are full and tired of eating–all these that sacred
island lying beneath the sun brought forth fair and wondrous in infinite
abundance. All these things they received from the earth, and they
employed themselves in constructing their temples, and palaces, and
harbors, and docks; and they arranged the whole country in the following
manner: First of all they bridged over the zones of sea which surrounded
the ancient metropolis, and made a passage into and out of they began to
build the palace in the royal palace; and then the habitation of the god
and of their ancestors. This they continued to ornament in successive
generations, every king surpassing the one who came before him to the
utmost of his power, until they made the building a marvel to behold for
size and for beauty. And, beginning from the sea, they dug a canal three
hundred feet in width and one hundred feet in depth, and fifty stadia in
length, which they carried through to the outermost zone, making a
passage from the sea up to this, which became a harbor, and leaving an
opening sufficient to enable the largest vessels to find ingress.
Moreover, they divided the zones of land which parted the zones of sea,
constructing bridges of such a width as would leave a passage for a
single trireme to pass out of one into another, and roofed them over;
and there was a way underneath for the ships, for the banks of the zones
were raised considerably above the water. Now the largest of the zones
into which a passage was cut from the sea was three stadia in breadth,
and the zone of land which came next of equal breadth; but the next two,
as well the zone of water as of land, were two stadia, and the one which
surrounded the central island was a stadium only in width. The island in
which the palace was situated had a diameter of five stadia. This, and
the zones and the bridge, which was the sixth part of a stadium in
width, they surrounded by a stone wall, on either side placing towers,
and gates on the bridges where the sea passed in. The stone which was
used in the work they quarried from underneath the centre island and
from underneath the zones, on the outer as well as the inner side. One
kind of stone was white, another black, and a third red; and, as they
quarried, they at the same time hollowed out docks double within, having
roofs formed out of the native rock. Some of their buildings were
simple, but in others they put together different stones, which they
intermingled for the sake of ornament, to be a natural source of
delight. The entire circuit of the wall which went round the outermost
one they covered with a coating of brass, and the circuit of the next
wall they coated with tin, and the third, which encompassed the citadel
flashed with the red light of orichalcum. The palaces in the interior of
the citadel were constructed in this wise: In the centre was a holy
temple dedicated to Cleito and Poseidon, which remained inaccessible,
and was surrounded by an enclosure of gold; this was the spot in which
they originally begat the race of the ten princes, and thither they
annually brought the fruits of the earth in their season from all the
ten portions, and performed sacrifices to each of them. Here, too, was
Poiseidon’s own temple, of a stadium in length and half a stadium in
width, and of a proportionate height, having a sort of barbaric
splendor. All the outside of the temple, with the exception of the
pinnacles, they covered with silver, and the pinnacles with gold. In the
interior of the temple the roof was of ivory, adorned everywhere with
gold and silver and orichalcum; all the other parts of the walls and
pillars and floor they lined with orichalcum. In the temple they placed
statues of gold: there was the god himself standing in a chariot–the
charioteer of six winged horses–and of such a size that he touched the
roof of the building with his head; around him there were a hundred
Nereids riding on dolphins, for such was thought to be the number of
them in that day. There were also in the interior of the temple other
images which had been dedicated by private individuals. And around the
temple on the outside were placed statues of gold of all the ten kings
and of their wives; and there were many other great offerings, both of
kings and of private individuals, coming both from the city itself and
the foreign cities over which they held sway. There was an altar, too,
which in size and workmanship corresponded to the rest of the work, and
there were palaces in like manner which answered to the greatness of the
kingdom and the glory of the temple.

READ  2006: Sembe, Ancient Persian Time Traveller

“In the next place, they used fountains both of cold and hot springs;
these were very abundant, and both kinds wonderfully adapted to use by
reason of the sweetness and excellence of their waters. They constructed
buildings about them, and planted suitable trees; also cisterns, some
open to the heaven, other which they roofed over, to be used in winter
as warm baths, there were the king’s baths, and the baths of private
persons, which were kept apart; also separate baths for women, and
others again for horses and cattle, and to them they gave as much
adornment as was suitable for them. The water which ran off they
carried, some to the grove of Poseidon, where were growing all manner of
trees of wonderful height and beauty, owing to the excellence of the
soil; the remainder was conveyed by aqueducts which passed over the
bridges to the outer circles: and there were many temples built and
dedicated to many gods; also gardens and places of exercise, some for
men, and some set apart for horses, in both of the two islands formed by
the zones; and in the centre of the larger of the two there was a
race-course of a stadium in width, and in length allowed to extend all
round the island, for horses to race in. Also there were guard-houses at
intervals for the body-guard, the more trusted of whom had their duties
appointed to them in the lesser zone, which was nearer the Acropolis;
while the most trusted of all had houses given them within the citadel,
and about the persons of the kings. The docks were full of triremes and
naval stores, and all things were quite ready for use. Enough of the
plan of the royal palace. Crossing the outer harbors, which were three
in number, you would come to a wall which began at the sea and went all
round: this was everywhere distant fifty stadia from the largest zone
and harbor, and enclosed the whole, meeting at the mouth of the channel
toward the sea. The entire area was densely crowded with habitations;
and the canal and the largest of the harbors were full of vessels and
merchants coming from all parts, who, from their numbers, kept up a
multitudinous sound of human voices and din of all sorts night and day.
I have repeated his descriptions of the city and the parts about the
ancient palace nearly as he gave them, and now I must endeavor to
describe the nature and arrangement of the rest of the country. The
whole country was described as being very lofty and precipitous on the
side of the sea, but the country immediately about and surrounding the
city was a level plain, itself surrounded by mountains which descended
toward the sea; it was smooth and even, but of an oblong shape,
extending in one direction three thousand stadia, and going up the
country from the sea through the centre of the island two thousand
stadia; the whole region of the island lies toward the south, and is
sheltered from the north. The surrounding mountains he celebrated for
their number and size and beauty, in which they exceeded all that are
now to be seen anywhere; having in them also many wealthy inhabited
villages, and rivers and lakes, and meadows supplying food enough for
every animal, wild or tame, and wood of various sorts, abundant for
every kind of work. I will now describe the plain, which had been
cultivated during many ages by many generations of kings. It was
rectangular, and for the most part straight and oblong; and what it
wanted of the straight line followed the line of the circular ditch. The
depth and width and length of this ditch were incredible and gave the
impression that such a work, in addition to so many other works, could
hardly have been wrought by the hand of man. But I must say what I have
heard. It was excavated to the depth of a hundred feet, and its breadth
was a stadium everywhere; it was carried round the whole of the plain,
and was ten thousand stadia in length. It received the streams which
came down from the mountains, and winding round the plain, and touching
the city at various points, was there let off into the sea. From above,
likewise, straight canals of a hundred feet in width were cut in the
plain, and again let off into the ditch, toward the sea; these canals
were at intervals of a Hundred stadia, and by them they brought, down
the wood from the mountains to the city, and conveyed the fruits of the
earth in ships, cutting transverse passages from one canal into another,
and to the city. Twice in the year they gathered the fruits of the
earth–in winter having the benefit of the rains, and in summer
introducing the water of the canals. As to the population, each of the
lots in the plain had an appointed chief of men who were fit for
military service, and the size of the lot was to be a square of ten
stadia each way, and the total number of all the lots was sixty thousand.

“And of the inhabitants of the mountains and of the rest of the country
there was also a vast multitude having leaders, to whom they were
assigned according to their dwellings and villages. The leader was
required to furnish for the war the sixth portion of a war-chariot, so
as to make up a total of ten thousand chariots; also two horses and
riders upon them, and a light chariot without a seat, accompanied by a
fighting man on foot carrying a small shield, and having a charioteer
mounted to guide the horses; also, he was bound to furnish two
heavy-armed men, two archers, two slingers, three stone-shooters, and
three javelin men, who were skirmishers, and four sailors to make up a
complement of twelve hundred ships. Such was the order of war in the
royal city–that of the other nine governments was different in each of
them, and would be wearisome to narrate. As to offices and honors, the
following was the arrangement from the first: Each of the ten kings, in
his own division and in his own city, had the absolute control of the
citizens, and in many cases of the laws, punishing and slaying
whomsoever he would.

“Now the relations of their governments to one another were regulated by
the injunctions of Poseidon as the law had handed them down. These were
inscribed by the first men on a column of orichalcum, which was situated
in the middle of the island, at the temple of Poseidon, whither the
people were gathered together every fifth and sixth years alternately,
thus giving equal honor to the odd and to the even number. And when they
were gathered together they consulted about public affairs, and inquired
if any one had transgressed in anything, and passed judgment on him
accordingly–and before they passed judgment they gave their pledges to
one another in this wise: There were bulls who had the range of the
temple of Poseidon; and the ten who were left alone in the temple, after
they had offered prayers to the gods that they might take the sacrifices
which were acceptable to them, hunted the bulls without weapons, but
with staves and nooses; and the bull which they caught they led up to
the column; the victim was then struck on the head by them, and slain
over the sacred inscription. Now on the column, besides the law, there
was inscribed an oath invoking mighty curses on the disobedient. When,
therefore, after offering sacrifice according to their customs, they had
burnt the limbs of the bull, they mingled a cup and cast in a clot of
blood for each of them; the rest of the victim they took to the fire,
after having made a purification of the column all round. Then they drew
from the cup in golden vessels, and, pouring a libation on the fire,
they swore t hat they would judge according to the laws on the column,
and would punish any one who had previously transgressed, and that for
the future they would not, if they could help, transgress any of the
inscriptions, and would not command or obey any ruler who commanded them
to act otherwise than according to the laws of their father Poseidon.
This was the prayer which each of them offered up for himself and for
his family, at the same time drinking, and dedicating the vessel in the
temple of the god; and, after spending some necessary time at supper,
when darkness came on and the fire about the sacrifice was cool, all of
them put on most beautiful azure robes, and, sitting on the ground at
night near the embers of the sacrifices on which they had sworn, and
extinguishing all the fire about the temple, they received and gave
judgement, if any of them had any accusation to bring against any one;
and, when they had given judgment, at daybreak they wrote down their
sentences on a golden tablet, and deposited them as memorials with their
robes. There were many special laws which the several kings had
inscribed about the temples, but the most important was the following:
That they were not to take up arms against one another, and they were
all to come to the rescue if any one in any city attempted to over.
throw the royal house. Like their ancestors, they were to deliberate in
common about war and other matters, giving the supremacy to the family
of Atlas; and the king was not to have the power of life and death over
any of his kinsmen, unless he had the assent of the majority of the ten
kings.

“Such was the vast power which the god settled in the lost island of
Atlantis; and this he afterward directed against our land on the
following pretext, as traditions tell: For many generations, as long as
the divine nature lasted in them, they were obedient to the laws, and
well-affectioned toward the gods, who were their kinsmen; for they
possessed true and in every way great spirits, practising gentleness and
wisdom in the various chances of life, and in their intercourse with one
another. They despised everything but virtue, not caring for their
present state of life, and thinking lightly on the possession of gold
and other property, which seemed only a burden to them; neither were
they intoxicated by luxury; nor did wealth deprive them of their
self-control; but they were sober, and saw clearly that all these goods
are increased by virtuous friendship with one another, and that by
excessive zeal for them, and honor of them, the good of them is lost,
and friendship perishes with them.

“By such reflections, and by the continuance in them of a divine nature,
all that which we have described waxed and increased in them; but when
this divine portion began to fade away in them, and became diluted too
often, and with too much of the mortal admixture, and the human nature
got the upper-hand, then, they being unable to bear their fortune,
became unseemly, and to him who had an eye to see, they began to appear
base, and had lost the fairest of their precious gifts; but to those who
had no eye to see the true happiness, they still appeared glorious and
blessed at the very time when they were filled with unrighteous avarice
and power. Zeus, the god of gods, who rules with law, and is able to see
into such things, perceiving that an honorable race was in a most
wretched state, and wanting to inflict punishment on them, that they
might be chastened and improved, collected all the gods into his most
holy habitation, which, being placed in the centre of the world, sees
all things that partake of generation. And when he had called them
together he spake as follows:”

[Here Plato’s story abruptly ends.]

CHAPTER III.

THE PROBABILITIES OF PLATO’S STORY.

There is nothing improbable in this narrative, so far as it describes a
great, rich, cultured, and educated people. Almost every part of Plato’s
story can be paralleled by descriptions of the people of Egypt or Peru;
in fact, in some respects Plato’s account of Atlantis falls short of
Herodotus’s description of the grandeur of Egypt, or Prescott’s picture
of the wealth and civilization of Peru. For instance, Prescott, in his
“Conquest of Peru” (vol. i., p. 95), says:

“The most renowned of the Peruvian temples, the pride of the capital and
the wonder of the empire, was at Cuzco, where, under the munificence of
successive sovereigns, it had become so enriched that it received the
name of Coricancha, or ‘the Place of Gold.’ . . . The interior of the
temple was literally a mine of gold. On the western wall was emblazoned
a representation of the Deity, consisting of a human countenance looking
forth from amid innumerable rays of light, which emanated from it in
every direction, in the same manner as the sun is often personified with
us. The figure was engraved on a massive plate of gold, of enormous
dimensions, thickly powdered with emeralds and precious stones. . . .
The walls and ceilings were everywhere incrusted with golden ornaments;
every part of the interior of the temple glowed with burnished plates
and studs of the precious metal; the cornices were of the same material.”

There are in Plato’s narrative no marvels; no myths; no tales of gods,
gorgons, hobgoblins, or giants. It is a plain and reasonable history of
a people who built temples, ships, and canals; who lived by agriculture
and commerce: who in pursuit of trade, reached out to all the countries
around them. The early history of most nations begins with gods and
demons, while here we have nothing of the kind; we see an immigrant
enter the country, marry one of the native women, and settle down; in
time a great nation grows up around him. It reminds one of the
information given by the Egyptian priests to Herodotus. “During the
space of eleven thousand three hundred and fort years they assert,” says
Herodotus, “that no divinity has appeared in human shape, . . . they
absolutely denied the possibility of a human being’s descent from a
god.” If Plato had sought to draw from his imagination a wonderful and
pleasing story, we should not have had so plain and reasonable a
narrative. He would have given us a history like the legends of Greek
mythology, full of the adventures of gods and goddesses, nymphs, fauns,
and satyrs.

Neither is there any evidence on the face of this history that Plato
sought to convey in it a moral or political lesson, in the guise of a
fable, as did Bacon in the “New Atlantis,” and More in the “Kingdom of
Nowhere.” There is no ideal republic delineated here. It is a
straightforward, reasonable history of a people ruled over by their
kings, living and progressing as other nations have lived and progressed
since their day.

Plato says that in Atlantis there was “a great and wonderful empire,”
which “aggressed wantonly against the whole of Europe and Asia,” thus
testifying to the extent of its dominion. It not only subjugated Africa
as far as Egypt, and Europe as far as Italy, but it ruled “as well over
parts of the continent,” to wit, “the opposite continent” of America,
“which surrounded the true ocean.” Those parts of America over which it
ruled were, as we will show hereafter, Central America, Peru, and the
Valley of the Mississippi, occupied by the “Mound Builders.”

Moreover, he tells us that “this vast power was gathered into one;” that
is to say, from Egypt to Peru it was one consolidated empire. We will
see hereafter that the legends of the Hindoos as to Deva Nahusha
distinctly refer to this vast empire, which covered the whole of the
known world.

Another corroboration of the truth of Plato’s narrative is found in the
fact that upon the Azores black lava rocks, and rocks red and white in
color, are now found. He says they built with white, red, and black
stone. Sir C. Wyville Thomson describes a narrow neck of land between
Fayal and Monte da Guia, called “Monte Queimada” (the burnt mountain),
as follows: “It is formed partly of stratified tufa of a dark chocolate
color, and partly of lumps of black lava, porous, and each with a large
cavity in the centre, which must have been ejected as volcanic bombs in
a glorious display of fireworks at some period beyond the records of
Acorean history, but late in the geological annals of the island”
(“Voyage of the Challenger,” vol. ii., p. 24). He also describes immense
walls of black volcanic rock in the island.

The plain of Atlantis, Plato tells us, “had been cultivated during many
ages by many generations of kings.” If, as we believe, agriculture, the
domestication of the horse, ox, sheep, goat, and bog, and the discovery
or development of wheat, oats, rye, and barley originated in this
region, then this language of Plato in reference to “the many ages, and
the successive generations of kings,” accords with the great periods of
time which were necessary to bring man from a savage to a civilized
condition.

In the great ditch surrounding the whole land like a circle, and into
which streams flowed down from the mountains, we probably see the
original of the four rivers of Paradise, and the emblem of the cross
surrounded by a circle, which, as we will show hereafter, was, from the
earliest pre-Christian ages, accepted as the emblem of the Garden of
Eden.

We know that Plato did not invent the name of Poseidon, for the worship
of Poseidon was universal in the earliest ages of Europe;
“Poseidon-worship seems to have been a peculiarity of all the colonies
previous to the time of Sidon” (“Prehistoric Nations,” p. 148.) This
worship “was carried to Spain, and to Northern Africa, but most
abundantly to Italy, to many of the islands, and to the regions around
the Ægean Sea; also to Thrace.” (Ibid., p. 155.)

Poseidon, or Neptune, is represented in Greek mythology as a sea-god;
but he is figured as standing in a war-chariot drawn by horses. The
association of the horse (a land animal) with a sea-god is inexplicable,
except with the light given by Plato. Poseidon was a sea-god because he
ruled over a great land in the sea, and was the national god of a
maritime people; he is associated with horses, because in Atlantis the
horse was first domesticated; and, as Plato shows, the Atlanteans had
great race-courses for the development of speed in horses; and Poseidon
is represented as standing in a war-chariot, because doubtless wheeled
vehicles were first invented by the same people who tamed the horse; and
they transmitted these war-chariots to their descendants from Egypt to
Britain. We know that horses were the favorite objects chosen for
sacrifice to Poseidon by the nations of antiquity within the Historical
Period; they were killed, and cast into the sea from high precipices.
The religious horse-feasts of the pagan Scandinavians were a survival of
this Poseidon-worship, which once prevailed along all the coasts of
Europe; they continued until the conversion of the people to
Christianity, and were then suppressed by the Church with great
difficulty.

We find in Plato’s narrative the names of some of the Phœnician deities
among the kings of Atlantis. Where did the Greek, Plato, get these names
if the story is a fable?

Does Plato, in speaking of “the fruits having a hard rind, affording
drinks and meats and ointments,” refer to the cocoa nut?

Again: Plato tells us that Atlantis abounded in both cold and hot
springs. How did he come to hit upon the hot springs if he was drawing a
picture from his imagination? It is a singular confirmation of his story
that hot springs abound in the Azores, which are the surviving fragments
of Atlantis; and an experience wider than that possessed by Plato has
taught scientific men that hot springs are a common feature of regions
subject to volcanic convulsions.

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