We first hear of Atlantis in the ‘Timaeus’ and ‘Critias’; dialogues by the Greek philosopher Plato, written about 350BC. Claiming to have heard the story from Solon, who heard it from a priest of ancient Egypt, Atlantis was a fantastic island beyond the ‘Pillars of Hercules.’
Existing in the deep past, it had an ideal government and boasted immense wealth and power. Having superior technology, the Atlanteans were the ultimate of humanity, but eventually their growing corruptness led to their destruction, the island eventually sinking below the sea.
Derided by later Greek philosophers such as Aristotle, the story was seen as a simple myth until 1882 when US Congressman Ignatius Donnelly took an interest. Donnelly was fascinated by the similarities between ancient Egyptian culture and that of Central and South America.
Arguing that both cultures had a single source, he theorised that they were the products of the survivors of the destruction of Atlantis which, to him, was located in the Atlantic Ocean.
About the same time, the medium and founder of the Theosophical Society, Madame Helena Blavatsky argued that the Atlanteans were a psychically developed people known as the Fourth Root Race. A previous evolutionary stage of man, they were an expression of the assent (or descent?) from celestial beings.
Occult philosopher Rudolf Steiner advanced the psychical nature of the Atlanteans by describing them as physically weak but with immense intellect, memory and psychic powers that enabled them to control the universal life force that permeated all things.
Descended from the fabled Lemurians who communicated telepathically, the At1anteans had a greater grasp on the physicality of the wor1d, and devised the first languages.
American medium Edgar Cayce was the next to enter the Atlantis debate. From the ‘life readings’ of 1,600 people, he realised that many individuals were reincarnated Atlanteans. He, himself, had been an Atlantean in a previous life, as well as a high priest of Egypt 10,600 years ago.
To him, the Atlanteans gained power through the use of crystals, but their increasing materialism and self-indulgence led to their destruction. As to the location of Atlantis, he cited Bimini in the Bahamas, close to the Florida coast.
In 1940 he predicted that part of Atlantis would rise up from the sea in 1968. This did not occur, but in that year strange, geometric ruins were discovered on the sea bed close to Bimini. Controversy reins to this day whether the structures are natural or man made.
It is easy to dismiss the ideas of Blavatsky, Steiner and Cayce as wild speculations, and in the late 1960s this seemed to be confirmed with the theory of a Greek archaeologist who offered a logical and almost certainly true foundation to the Atlantis myth.
Around 1500BC a huge volcanic eruption destroyed the island of Santorini, laying waste coastal regions of eastern Greece and northern Crete. Practically destroying the pre-Greek Minoan culture, survivors went on to populate Greece and laid the foundations of Greek society.
The Minoans were known to be advanced for their time, and when added to the known sinking of Santorini, it is attractive to see this as the genesis of Atlantean mythology.
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