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- The Antediluvian World - 5/73 -
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, arid 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.]
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, be 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 Ęgean 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; be 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 Phnician 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 be 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.
Plato tells us, "The whole country was 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." One has but to look at the profile of the "Dolphin's Ridge," as revealed by the deep-sea soundings of the Challenger, given as the frontispiece to this volume, to see that this is a faithful description of that precipitous elevation. "The surrounding mountains," which sheltered the plain from the north, are represented in the present towering peaks of the Azores.
Plato tells us that the destruction of Atlantis filled the sea with mud, and interfered with navigation. For thousands of years the ancients believed the Atlantic Ocean to be "a muddy, shallow, dark, and misty sea, Mare tenebrosum." ("Cosmos," vol. ii., p. 151.)
The three-pronged sceptre or trident of Poseidon reappears constantly in ancient history. We find it in the hands of Hindoo gods, and at the base of all the religious beliefs of antiquity.
"Among the numerals the sacred three has ever been considered the mark
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