July 9, 2007 | 3 comments
Image Credit: Lloyd K. Townsend
I believe that Atlantis was a real civilization. That's not saying much, though, for very little is really known about the lost island, save that it was destroyed by earthquake and flood a very long time ago. In fact, our only real source of historical information comes from Plato. We are introduced to Atlantean civilization in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias. Written around 360 B.C., they were our first, and only, historical account of the story of Atlantis. In the dialogues, a character named Critias recounts a tale given to him by his ancestor, Solon, who received it from an Egyptian priest. It is the account of a war between Atlantis and Athens. Athens is cast in the role of the ideal State, as described in Plato's republic, and how such an ideal society would interact with another, less than ideal society. As such he describes how Atlantis, a once mighty power, full of virtue, descended into corruption, and was eventually destroyed by the gods.
Plato's account placed the island west of the "Pillars of Hercules", which would put it in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 9000 years before Plato's own time. Since then Atlantis has been the source of unending speculation and investigation. Scientists and adventurers of every stripe have tried to locate it, in areas as diverse as the Mediterranean, to Asia Minor, Mexico, Brazil, Europe, and even Antarctica. The list of theorized locations is almost as long as the list of men who have tried to find it, actually. The theories that place Atlantis in these locations have been equally diverse: starting with Plato's account as fact, to Plato got the math wrong, to cross referencing with the stories of Mu and Lemuria, to psychic visions and messages from aliens.
Plato's description of Atlantis is that of an island state, with a mountain in the middle of a central plain, upon and around which the capital city of Atlantis was built. The city was surrounded by moats, accessed by bridges, and very well defended by walls and towers. The Atlanteans dug a great canal to the sea, such that ships could come straight to the city. At some point the Atlanteans proceeded to conquer and enslave parts of Libya as far as Egypt, and the European continent as far as Central Italy, including the city state of Athens. Athens led a revolt, but as the coalition of rebels dissolved, wound up fighting Atlantis alone. The Athenians prevailed, and managed to liberate the conquered lands. It was just after this that Atlantis suffered violent earthquakes and floods, and sank into the sea, never to seen again.
In modern thought, believers in the Atlantean story claim that it was an ancient super civilization, with ships and aircraft powered by some form of crystal based energy. Others believe that the Atlanteans were in fact from another star system, and seeded the Earth with their descendants. There are dozens of other theories, some a variation or combination of these two, others wholly unique and individual in their ideas. However, all we really have are Plato's accounts, and a wide variety of theories and speculation. The unfortunate truth is that there is little, if any, credible evidence that Atlantis ever existed, except in the imagination of a brilliant dialogist, an allegory used to make a point in a story.
What is it about Atlantis that has so captured our collective imaginations, such that even after 2400 years, we still pursue the story with passion and ardour? Is it simple gold fever, the lust after the untold treasures of a fallen civilization, ripe for the taking? Is it the simple allure of an unknowable mystery, teasing our insatiable curiosity? Or is it something else entirely?
The story of Atlantis is rich enough to make us believe, but not so detailed that we might think that we know all. Her story, like that of a beautiful woman, reveals only enough to arouse our passions, and make us desire more. She inspires us to imagine the impossible as possible, the unknowable as knowable, and the unattainable as attainable. She tantalizes us with her precious treasures, but makes it clear that they are not for the common man. Her gifts are reserved for the truly courageous, the bold, the worthiest of men, and none other. She challenges us to extend our reach, to dream larger dreams, and consider life as more than a dull drudge spent trapped in the canyons of steel and concrete that we call our homes. She provides for us a receptacle for our hidden dreams, an outlet for our wildest imaginings, and a mythos in which our fears have no power to hold us back. It is for these reasons that Atlantis continues to live on in our consciousness, despite 2400 years of theory, with no definitive proof of her existence. Was Atlantis real? Yes, I say, and again Yes! Atlantis was, and will continue to be, as real as we need her to be. For without her tender embrace, where would our dreams find the courage to fly?
Marc Berry is co-founder of NewBranes.com
, a blog that provides insightful commentary on the paranormal, ufo's and alternate points of view. For more great articles like this, visit NewBranes.com
. Reprinting this article is permitted with this footer included.