Wednesday, November 9, 2016
The Lost Atlantis By Alexander Wilder, M.D. 1906
The Lost Atlantis By Alexander Wilder, M.D. 1906
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WHO has penetrated to the sources of the sea, or passed through the depths of the abyss? Who can guide to the boundaries of the ancient Darkness, or knows the path to her domain? What skald was inspired to write the saga, narrating the exploits of those long forgotten— seemingly lost out of the world's memory? Gladly would we peruse some old Edda chronicling the deeds of these master-spirits that once bustled on this earth of ours, anterior to the dawn of the day indicated by our histories. How fraught with interest would be the annals of the Northman race, ever aspiring to the lordship of the universe; who, as heroes, filled Southern Europe with gods and demigods, and peopled their mythology; who, as Hellenes, subdued the shepherd and agricultural Pelasgians of Greece, Troy, and perhaps of Eastern Italy; who brought devastation to the heart of the Roman Empire and built the monarchies of Modern Europe.
[It is more probable that the inhabitants of Ilion were of a stock akin to the Assyrians. The names of the legendary personages, Ilos, Assaracus, and others seem to imply as much, although other appellations given by Homer are etymologically Aryan.—A. W.]
How far our explanations will solve the enigmas of the Past, is a matter of grave question. Parchment has proved too perishable for a record; we must interrogate the stones. Perhaps they will "cry out" and give us a testimony. But even then, we shall need a man who can understand their language—one, perhaps, who had "been in Eden the garden of God."
We interrogate the naturalist—him to whom the "elder Scripture," we would suppose to be "familiar as household words."
[Reference may be made to distinguished authority, which shows that there was a region beyond Gibraltar recognized in ancient times. Aristotle described a transatlantic island. Theopompos represents Silenos as discoursing about Atlantis to the Phrygians. Plutarch mentions the isle Ogygla, five days' sail westward from Britain, and three others at the northwest. There is "the continent by which the great sea is environed, distant from Ogygia 5,000 stadia." He also tells of ships returning from the Islands of the Blessed in that ocean. Diodoros relates the story of Phoenicians sailing westward to the Islands of Kronos, where were high mountains and a warm climate. He also tells of an island In the west which the Carthaginians had discovered, and to which they thought to emigrate. Saint Isidore, Strabo, Beda and St. Ambrose described Paradise the original home of Adam and Eve, as being in the West. So many statements must have had a tangible foundation, and be regarded as capable of being verified.]
Of him we learn that Nature has been always restless, unceasingly busy; that nothing, hardly, which we now see, bears the same form that it once had. Our globe, our solar system, our universe, are ever moving onward, nor know a Sabbath in their labors. Every atom is constantly divesting itself of its older, that it may put on a newer form. This city of Albany was once the bed of a beautiful lakelet; the gentle Hudson river an angry torrent. We ascend the Catskills and see there the evidences that even the "everlasting hills" must inevitably crumble into dust and descend into the valley below. Every mountain seems destined to be brought low, every valley to be filled. Pass to the seashore, and there, too, is change. The ocean is eating away the land, and homestead after homestead, deeded and recorded to "heirs and assigns forever," lies irrecoverably beneath the waves. So the old worlds seem fading out of existence, while corals are assiduously aiding to create new soils, new islands and new continents. Geologists have brought to knowledge the revolutions which our earth has undergone; yet, it is more than possible that they are but slight compared with those just now commencing, which are destined to occur.
How must this world have looked when the Titans, the Nephelim and giants of old legends, figured in its arena? Did behemoths and mastodons then rule any of these lands? Certainly they had their day and passed into extinction and forgetfulness, leaving their skeletons for monuments to show where they once lived and disported on the earth.
We mentioned the ancient Nephelim— "mighty men of old, men of renown." Concerning such as these we have not to enquire. Moses tells of Rephaim in the frontier regions of the Promised Land. Manetho and Eratosthenes assure us that they once swayed the scepter of Egypt. In the stories of the book of Genesis we are told that nations of them served King Chedorlaomer. Others of them are said to have been vanquished in Mount Seir by Esau, the warlike son of Isaac. There is much that is not known about these peoples but which is well worth the learning.
The legends of Athens are not devoid of interest. Whether the early Atticans were an autochthonic race or not, certain it is that they were of almost incredible antiquity. The dedication of the city to the blue-eyed goddess Pallas Athena, a North-maiden in her physiognomy, is perhaps from a fancy of a later period. The legend of her conflict with Poseidon, for the supremacy is in evidence.
[Herodotos: II, 50. "Of him (Poseidon) the Greeks got their knowledge from the Libyans, by whom he has been always honored, and who were anciently the only people that had a god of the name."
The regions about the Mediterranean Sea, except Egypt, were regarded as in the domain of Poseidon after his admission into the circle of Olympian divinities. The wanderings of Odysseus or Ulysses, described by Homer, were in the region subject to him apart from ZeuB.—A. W.]
But the story of Atlantis, of which Plato has given us a record, owes its preservation to a tradition of a conflict of its people with the Athenians—a tradition, which the Athenians themselves seem to have known nothing about. We cite the story which is said to have been narrated to Solon, by an Egyptian priest.
"First of all let us recollect that it is about nine thousand years since war was proclaimed between those dwelling outside the Pillars of Hercules (Gibraltar) and all those within them, which war we must now describe. Of the latter party this city of Athens was the leader, and conducted the whole war; and of the former, the Kings of the Atlantic Island which we said was once larger than Libya (Northern Africa) and (Southwestern) Asia, but now, sunk by earthquakes, a mass of impervious mud which hinders all those sailing on the vast sea from effecting a passage hither.
"To the gods was once locally allotted the whole earth, and that too, without contention; for it would not be reasonable to suppose that the gods are ignorant of what suits each of themselves, or, that fully aware of what is rather the property of others, they -would try to get possession of it through strife. Obtaining then a country, they reared it, as their possessions, flocks and herds; and by working on the soul they governed the mortal by leading him according to their own mind. Hephaestos and Athena having a common nature, received this region of Attika as their common allotment, as being naturally familiar with and well adapted to virtue and wisdom; and having produced worthy men, autochthones or natives of the soil, they arranged the order of their government.
[These two divinities have been generally known to us by their names as Roman gods, Vulcan and Minerva. The Egyptian priests also attempted to Identify them with Ptah, the god of Memphis, and Neith, the goddess of Sais. But these identifications are chiefly fictitious, as the characteristics of the several divinities do not closely correspond. Hence writers like Grote, Gladstone, Max Muller and others disregard the practice and in most cases write the names as they were originally used. Thus we have Zeus, Hera, Leto, Aphrodite, Poseidon, Instead of Jupiter, Juno, Latona, Venus, Neptune.]
Of these men the names are preserved; though through their death and the long lapse of time all memory of their deeds has perished. The race that survived were unlettered mountaineers, who knew the names of the ruling people, but very little about tbeir deeds. In this way were preserved their names without their history.
"Solon said that the (Egyptian) priests, in describing the wars then waged, gave to those who were engaged in them such names as Kekrops, Erekhtheus, Erikhthonios, Erysikhthon; also the names of women. Besides, the figure and image of the goddess show that at that time both men and women entered in common on the pursuits of war; as in compliance with that custom an armed statue was dedicated to the goddess by the people of that day—a proof that all animals that consort together, females as well as males, have a natural tendency to pursue in common every suitable duty.
"In early times this country (Attika) had its boundary at the Isthmus (of Corinth) and on the side of the other continent as far as the heights of Kithaeron and Parnes, with Oropia on the right, and the Asopos, as a seaport limit, on the left. By the valor of this region the whole earth was vanquished (excelled), because it was then able to support the numerous army, collected from the people around.
* * "As many and extensive deluges happened in that period of nine thousand years, the earth that was loosened and that fell in these times and under these circumstances, did not as elsewhere, aggregate to form any elevation worth mentioning, but ever eddying round, vanished in the deep. * * Such was once the natural state of this country, and it was cultivated by real husbandmen, actually practicing their calling, lovers of honor and generous-minded, having a most excellent soil, great abundance of water, and a climate admirably tempered. It was at this time that the city of Athens was founded. * * *
"Poseidon, taking as his lot the Atlantic Island, begat children by a mortal woman, and settled in a spot on the island which we will describe. * * He also begat and brought up five pairs of twin male children; and after dividing all the Atlantic Island into ten parts, he bestowed on the first born of the eldest pair his mother's dwelling and allotment about it—this being the largest and best; and he appointed him king of all the rest, making the others subordinate rulers, and giving to each the dominion over many people and an extensive territory. To the eldest, the king, he gave the name of Atlas; and from him as the first sovereign, both the island and sea were termed Atlantic. * * All these, and their descendants, dwelt for many generations, as rulers in the sea of islands; and further extended their empire to all the country as far as Egypt and Tyrrhenia," (Italy).—Kritias: 4-9.
The wealth of this dynasty is described as having been more abundant than had ever before been known. The island had many mines. The orichalkon was found there—a metal not now known.
[Many conjectures have been put forth In regard to the metal here named. The Greek term for copper is chalkos, but this hardly meets the sense of the statement. The name, orichalkos, however, seems to mean "desired," Implying value exceeding that of gold.]
A vast number of nutritious fruits were produced; elephants and other animals were numerous.
[Those who suppose Atlantis to have been the American continent, or territory contiguous to it, may find some explanation of this in the fact that the mammoth and mastodon, once abundant here, were of the elephant race.]
The arts were cultivated to a high degree of perfection. The subjected peoples of Europe and Africa paid a large tribute. The government consisted of ten confederated states, as established by Poseidon. For ages virtue, happiness and wealth reigned in the Atlantic Island. At length avarice and the lust of power swerved them from their ideal rectitude. But we will cite again the old story:
"Listen, now, Sokrates, to a story very strange indeed, but in every respect true, as it was related by Solon, the wisest of the seven. * * *
[The Seven Sages of Greece, before the rise of the Philosophers. The "Seven Wise Men" as enumerated by Plutarch, were Solon of Athens, Bias of Priene, Thales of Miletus. Anacharsis the Skythian, Kleobulos of Llndos, Pittakos of Mitylene, and Chllo of Lacedemon. Other writers include Periander of Corinth Instead of Anacharsis, who was not of Greece or Ionia.]
"In Egypt, in the Delta, where the streams of Egypt are divided, is the Saitical region,the chief city of which is Sais, whence sprung King Amasis.
[Amasis or Aah-mes, the second of the name, became king of Egypt after the deposing of Apries or the Pharoah Hophra, by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, for instigating the revolt of Zedekiah, the subject-king of Judea. (See Jeremiah 37; 43: 10-13; 44: 29. 30.) He took great pains to cultivate the friendship of the Greeks, and caused the priests to admit Thales, Pythagoras, Solon and others to their Instructions.]
Its deity is called in Egyptian, Neith-in Greek, Athena—and the people accordingly are great friends of the Athenians. Solon was received very honorably by them. On enquiring of the priests about ancient affairs, he perceived that neither himself nor the Greeks possessed, so to speak, any antiquarian knowledge at all. He once undertook to describe those events which had happened among us in days of yore, when one of the priests, an extremely aged man, exclaimed: 'Solon, Solon, you Greeks are always children, and there is not an aged Greek, * * * The transactions which you have related differ little from children's fables. In the first place, you speak of only one Deluge of the earth, whereas there have been many before.
[The deluge of Deukalion is described by ancient Grecian writers. It was probably the opening of a great Interior sea at the north, by an earthquake, to the Mediterranean, flooding the countries of Greece, creating the Aegean sea and converting a large territory into an archipelago with numerous Islands.]
In the next place, you are unacquainted with the most noble and excellent race of men who once inhabited your country, from whom your whole present inhabitants are descended, though only a small remnant of this admirable people are now remaining. Your ignorance in this matter results from the fact that their posterity for many generations died without having the use of letters. For, long before the Chief Deluge, there existed a city of Athenians, regulated by the best laws both in military and other matters, whose noble deeds are said to have been the most excellent of all that we have heard to exist under heaven.
"'Your state and ours were formed by the same goddess, yours having a priority of a thousand years over ours. The annals of our city have been preserved eight thousand years in our Sacred Writings. * * * Many and mighty deeds of your state are here recorded, and call forth our wonder. There is one surpassing them all; for these writings relate what a prodigious force your city once overcame when a mighty warlike power, rushing from the Atlantic Sea, spread itself with hostile fury over all Europe and Asia.
[It is not altogether Improbable that this account relates to the same event as has been preserved In the traditions of the Amazons. They are described as coming from Mauritania or Morocco, marching through Egypt, which contained a kindred people, and passing onward over Asia Minor, invading Greece. One tradition credits them with establishing Mystic Rites In different places.]
That Sea was then navigable, and had an island fronting that mouth which you call Pillars of Hercules; and the island was larger than Libya and Asia (Minor) put together. There was a passage from it for travelers to the rest of the islands, and from those islands to the whole opposite continent that surrounds the sea. For, as respects what is within the mouth here mentioned, it (the Mediterranean) appears to be a bay with a kind of narrow entrance; and that sea is a true sea, and the land that surrounds it may most truly and correctly be termed a continent.
"'In this Atlantic Island there existed a powerful confederacy of sovereigns, who had conquered the entire island, together with many others, and also parts of the continent. Besides this, they had subjected the inland parts of Africa as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia (Italy). The whole of this force, being confederated, undertook at one blow to enslave your country and ours, and all the territory lying within the mouth. At this period your country was universally celebrated for its courage and strength; for surpassing all others in greatness and marvelous skill, sometimes taking the lead of all the Grecians, and at others, left alone by their defection, and thus involved in extreme danger, it still prevailed, vanquished the assailants, protected those who were not enslaved, and for the rest of us who dwelt within the Pillars of Hercules it ensured the amplest liberty.
"'Afterward violent earthquakes and deluges brought speedy destruction. In a single day and night the whole of your warlike race was swallowed up by the earth, and the Atlantic Island itself was plunged beneath the sea, disappearing entirely. Since then that sea is neither navigable nor capable of being explored, being blocked up by the great depth of mud which the sinking island produced.'" —Plato, Timaeos, 4-6.
This story is referred to by several writers, some going so far as to declare it a fable. It would, perhaps, be demanding too much credulity to require us to believe it all fictitious. We pause, therefore, to enquire whether it was plausible. The story of the invasion does not greatly conflict with those of the old irruptions into the known world of the ancients. We have seen an attempt to show that the Atlantean people were ancient Northmen, who had sailed, as at subsequent periods, around the European coast and come into the Mediterranean—a circumstance which led the Egyptians to suppose that they were from some unknown territory not far from the Strait of Gibraltar. Others still, and we have been inclined to favor the opinion, have supposed that our own Western Continent, older than the Eastern by ages, was the real Atlantis that sent invaders to Europe and Africa long before history began. The subsequent dark period, during which the memory of this great people was well-nigh lost, would account for the declaration that the territory was submerged by a catastrophe not widely different in character from that which overthrew Sodom, Pompeii and Euphemia.
It is certain that in Spanish America hoary-headed antiquity had a splendid home. Remains of cities, architecture resembling the Pelasgic, ornaments like those worn by the Trojans and Greeks, religious emblems—all bespeak such to be the most reasonable solution of the enigma.
[Not only the bird, the cross and kindred emblems, and even the pyramid, have been noted, but the Swastika, now accredited to the Buddhists, yet found by Schliemann at ancient Troy, and also In Norway.]
Stucco work and paintings resembling Italian frescoes have been found in Central America. Trees a thousand years old are growing over ancient palaces. In Yucatan have been found ruins of magnificent houses, adorned with fresco paintings of blue and green, apparently fresh. The skulls of men of the ancient races have been examined, containing teeth, some plugged and others artificial. Mines have been opened which had been wrought by the laborers of that remote period. The sacred lotus flower was also found among the sculptures.
Indeed, it must be conceded that there are very plausible reasons for supposing that a continent or vast island, or perhaps a former part of our continent, once occupied a large portion of the Atlantic Ocean. Clavigero declares that between Brazil and Africa are seen remains of a sunken body of land; that they are also seen at the Cape Verde Islands and their vicinity, and he cites the sand-banks found by Bauche. The conformation of our shores indicates a sinking of the land, particularly along the Gulf of Mexico. It may be that the space now occupied by that body of water was once solid earth, of which the West India Islands are now all that is left. It is no great stretch of fancy to suppose the Azore, Canary and Cape de Verde Islands to have in like manner contributed the mountainous and higher portions of the lost Atlantis. Immense quantities of sea-weed may be seen floating in the water all along that region of the ocean.
[The body of still water in the midst of the North Atlantic is here alluded to. It received from Spanish navigators the name of "Sargasso Sea," on account of the vast quantity of sea-weed with which it abounds. It is elliptical in form, and has an area almost as large as Europe. It lies between 20° and 30° north latitude, and between 30° and 60° west longitude from Greenwich. It is never navigated, and in it is collected a large proportion of the drift or wreck which floats about the ocean.]
Every student in the classics knows of Atlas, king in the extreme West, who held the sky on his shoulders. It may be this was a recollection of that ancient, wise and opulent people whom the ocean buried, leaving to the storm to chant their requiem, and Teneriffe to stand as their monument. If the souls of the dead beneath the waters and their inhabitants could speak, they might tell the story. The matter may be veiled in the thick cloud that conceals the primeval Past. Yet it may also be permitted to mortals to learn the matter; and the lords of the universe, restless as is Nature herself, may yet know the secret history which old Ocean hides beneath the waves.