Thursday, November 17, 2016
Atlantis in Scripture and Mythology by George Stanley Faber 1816
Atlantis in Scripture and Mythology by George Stanley Faber B.D. 1816
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Since the Ark and the Earth were equally typified by an island, and since (as we learn from Theopompus) it was an ancient sacred article of faith that Europe and Asia and Africa were each an island," we may naturally expect, that the submersion of an island would be employed to describe the submersion of the Earth at the time of the flood.
Of these legends one of the most curious is that of the island Atlantis.
According to Plato, when Solon was in Egypt, a learned priest of that country informed him, that there was once, at the entrance of the main ocean beyond the pillars of Hercules, an island larger than all Asia and Africa. The gods dividing the earth among them, this vast island, which was called Atlantis, fell to the lot of Neptune. In it that deity found a single man and woman, Euenor and his wife Leucippe, who sprang from the dust of the earth: and he espoused their only daughter Clito, who bore to him ten sons. Among these ten children Neptune divided his dominions. Atlas was the eldest of them, and gave his name to the island: and he, and his posterity after him, long reigned there with much glory and felicity. As for the country itself, it was a most delightful region; and its fertility and opulence were never equalled. The inhabitants were remarkable for their wisdom and virtue: and the ten princes of its ten provinces, anxious to promote the interests of religion, were wont to assemble in each fifth and sixth year alternately, to deliberate on the common weal and to offer sacrifices to the gods. But this original purity of manners was gradually corrupted; the Atlantians became men of blood and rapine; and a lawless ambition instigated them to acts of violence and aggression. Not satisfied with possessing a rich and beautiful country, and inflated with the pride of unbounded prosperity, they began to attempt the conquest of their neighbours. First they subdued Africa and all Europe as far as Tyrrhenia; and next they invaded Egypt and Greece. The Athenians alone resisted, and in the end triumphed over them: for Jupiter, enraged at their degeneracy, resolved upon their destruction. A tremendous earthquake took place, and a vast inundation followed it. In one night, both the warriors who were engaged in the conquest of Greece, and the island Atlantis itself, were swallowed up by the waters.
The particular manner of the island's submersion was as follows. The Mediterranean sea, at that time a large lake without any inlet into the ocean, was swelled above its usual level by an extraordinary influx of the great rivers which disembogue themselves into it. The weight of the waters, assisted by the earthquake, burst through the isthmus which then connected Europe and Africa; and by their sudden escape overwhelmed those extensive tracts of land, which once constituted the island Atlantis.
As far as I am able to judge, this curious tradition sufficiently explains itself. Indeed even M. Bailly, in the midst of his laborious attempt to prove the Atlantians a very ancient northern people far anterior either to the Hindus or the Phenicians or the Egyptians, cites a legend preserved by Cosmas Indico-Pleustes, which may additionally serve to teach us, who this primitive nation really were. Their claims to superior antiquity are indisputable, though not exactly on the principles of the French philosophist. The Atlantians were in fact the antediluvians; and the submersion of their country was no other than the submersion of the old world: hence the tradition of Cosmas rightly teaches us, that Noah formerly inhabited the island Atlantis, but that at the time of the deluge he was carried in an Ark to that continent which has ever since been occupied by his posterity. This voyage of the great father was not from an imaginary island in the Atlantic ocean to the eastern continent; but from the old world, the real island Atlantis, to that new world which his descendants now inhabit. And with this opinion, whatever be the fate of the legend preserved by Cosmas, the whole tradition respecting that supposed maritime region will be found minutely to correspond.
In the story, as it is told by Plato, the primitive man and woman, sprung from the earth, are plainly Adam and Eve; while in the ten children of Neptune, as in the ten patriarchal lords or Pitris of the Hindus, we recognize the ten antediluvian patriarchs through the line of Seth. The lawless violence of the degenerate Atlantians is the lawless violence of the scriptural giants: and the deluge, that overwhelms the country of the former, is the deluge, that inundated the old world and swept away the latter. The fiction of the invasion of Africa and Greece and of the successful resistance made by the Athenians has been patched to the genuine legend from a totally different history. It relates, I believe, to those early and violent irruptions of the Scythic or Gothic tribes; which established the dominion of the Shepherd-kings in Egypt, which founded the empire of the African Ethiopia, and which planted the Chasas under the name of Atlantians in the western region of Mauritania. From these originated the whole legend of the island: and they related the fortunes of their antediluvian forefathers in the phraseology of those Mysteries, which under Nimrod they first invented at Babylon. Hence it is, that we find Atlas and the Atlantians so well known in such very different quarters of the world: the same enterprizing race, who were the authors of the daring apostasy in the plains of Shinar, not only extended their empire generally over the other descendants of Noah, but likewise in a separate state planted their colonies equally in Africa, in Europe, in Phenicia, and in various parts of the interior of Asia. Atlas himself, like Cronus and Menu, is the transmigrating great father. The many points of resemblance between Adam and Noah produced their systematic deification under the same title. Atlas commonly appears as the latter; and sometimes his character melts into that of Enoch, considered as one of the various manifestations of Buddha or Menu: but here, as an antediluvian and as the eldest of the ten Atlantians, he is certainly the former. We are by no means, as I have just observed, to confine him to Africa and the fabled island Atlantis. The priests of Egypt were well acquainted with his history: the Phenicians, who were of the same race as the Shepherd-kings, have conspicuously introduced the astronomer Atlas into their mythology: the Greeks, who received their theology from the equally Scythic Pelasgi, Phenicians, and Pallic Egyptians, claimed him as their own, and reported him to have been the first king of Arcadia: and the Celts or Hyperboreans, who migrated from Asia under a Scythic nobility and priesthood, no less asserted him to have tenanted their northern country, where in the usual spirit of local appropriation they likewise placed the Paradisiaco-diluvian gardens of the Hesperides. He was famous alike in Britain and throughout the whole east under the name of Idris or Edris or Atri: and the mountain, on which he pursued his astronomical researches, whether situated in Wales or in Africa or in Cashgar, is but a transcript of the geographically coincident mountains of Eden and Ararat.