The History of Atlantis at Mount Shasta
The history of Atlantis begins with oral traditions in Ancient Greece. Atlantis was mentioned once before in Greek literature prior to Plato by the philosopher Proclus (410-485 BC). Proclus wrote that the historian Marcellus (266-208 BC) described how several islands in the Atlantic Ocean had preserved traditions from their submerged island where Poseidon, the brother of Zeus, ruled. Proclus believed that the island of Atlantis was once part of Ethiopia. However, the misidentified islands may have been the Canaries or the Azores.
Plato’s Historical Account of Atlantis
Plato’s Timaeus and Critias (1977) are the only independent sources on the history of Atlantis. According to Plato’s two accounts, Atlantis was destroyed about 9,000 to 10,000 years ago and warred with Athens. Though the Athenians forgot about this war, the priests of Saïs in Egypt recounted its events to Solon in about 600 BC, who later informed Plato. Plato describes Atlantis as wealthy, maritime and located to the west possessing natural resource like metals, gems, vegetables and herbs. There were ten kings that ruled Atlantis, all decedents of Poseidon, who was married to Cleito, a mortal woman. Atlantis was destroyed by the corruption of its inhabitants through natural forces, earthquakes and floods.
Plato’s Critias claims that Plato is telling a true story. At one time, Atlantis had power as far as Egypt and Italy and after the Athenians defeated the Atlanteans, both were susceptible to earthquakes and floods. However, Crantor (335-275 BC), the first commentator on Plato and Syrianus, accepted the story as truth as well as Pliny the Elder (23-79), who wrote the thirty-seven volume Natural History. Plato’s pupil, Aristotle, rejected the story of Atlantis as truth and taught it as allegorical. It is argued that Plato created the philosophical account of Atlantis to teach his students about the greatness of Athens and Greek life.
The strife between Athens and Atlantis 10,000 years ago demonstrates the conflict between Persia and Greece that was occurring at the time of Plato. For Plato, Atlantis becomes a story that tells the origins as well as a possible demise of Athens. Atlantis has also been identified with the ruins of the Minoan culture of Crete, which was destroyed by a volcano around 1500 BC. Similar to the description of Atlanteans given by Plato, Minoans were island dwellers, had fine houses, a thriving maritime commerce and were skillful ship builders. There is only one major inconsistency with ascribing Atlantis to Thera in that the Island of Thera does not lie beyond the Pillars of Hercules in the west.
According to Plato, Atlantis was located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean as a large island surrounded by smaller islands. When these islands sank into the ocean, it created mud and murk in the water. In Plato’s time the Atlantic Ocean was believed, in part at least, to be no longer navigable. Periplus of Scylax of Caryanda (300 BC to 200 BC) also notes difficulty navigating the Atlantic Ocean because of mud and seaweed. In about 515 BC Scylax was sent by the Persian king, Darius I of Persia to explore the course of the Indus River and returned by sea after thirty months.
In 500 BC, the Carthaginian navigator Himilco, sailed north from Hanno to Spain, Portugal and France and noted weeds and dangers lurking in the un-navigable Atlantic. Atlantis was a creation of philosophical romance, incited and aided by miscellaneous data out of history. For early explorers, the Atlantic Ocean was viewed as shallow, stagnant, weed infested and home to sea monsters. Later, William Reed legitimized these claims of in The Phantom of the Poles (1906) and wrote that sea monsters lived inside the earth and surfaced in the Atlantic.
By the time of Christ, Atlantis was placed beside the mythical Isles of Blest, sometimes called the Fortunate Isles. These were located in the Western Ocean. At the Isles of Blest, the souls of favored mortals were received by the gods and lived happily in a paradise. Belief in the islands long persisted and the Canaries Islands, Azores and Madeira Islands were sometimes identified with them.
Atlantis was also placed with the island of Ogygia. In Greek mythology, Ogygia is a fabled island controlled by the nymph Calypso. It was a tree covered, dark, depressing land where the temperature was cold and the beasts were frightening. Both the Isles of Blest and Ogygia are located beyond the Pillars of Hercules, today known as the Straights of Gibraltar.
In 30 BC, Diodorus Siculus wrote in The History of Diodorus Siculus the Amazons, Gorgons and Atlanteans were present in North Africa. He also discussed the Atlanteans’ ideas about the genesis of the gods and recounts Atlanteans as a historical people. The works of Siculus are now dismissed because of inaccuracies and contradictory material. Ammianus Marcellinus (330-395), a Roman historian and author of Roman History, discussed different types of earthquakes and referred to an island larger than Europe being swallowed up by the earth. Unlike Siculus, the works of Marcellinus are regarded as accurate and noted for their details of Roman military life.
Atlantis in America
Spanish explorer Francesco López de Gómara (1511-1564) was the first person to propose that Atlantis was in America (1587). Almost one-hundred years later, Francis Bacon wrote New Atlantis which also connected America to Atlantis. Later, Lewis Spence published Atlantis in America where evidence is in the “Atlantis culture-complex.” This includes Quetzalcoatl as a representative of Atlantis, religious aspects of Native American groups, witchcraft and similarity of myths of North and South American groups. The Mayan civilization is the best example of a culture that originated in the eastern and Atlantic regions. Nevertheless, this popular theory of Atlantis in America began to fall out of favor in the middle of the nineteenth century, probably because of the increased knowledge of North American history. In the later nineteenth century, the Atlanteans were associated with much more ancient peoples including the Goths, Gauls, Druids, Egyptians and Scyths.
Minnesota congressional representative Ignatius Donnelly is credited with re-introducing the subject of Atlantis. His book, Atlantis: The Antediluvian World was first published in 1882 and went through fifty reprints until 1949. He credits the Atlanteans with creating modern medicine and the alphabet. Donnelly recognizes evidence of Atlantis in the archaeological record. He claims that Atlanteans constructed monuments using huge blocks of stone without mortar, commonly found at Mycenae, Malta, Tiahuanaco, Ollantaytambo, Monte Alban, Stonehenge, and Osirion at Abydos.
In addition, Donnelly proposes Atlantis as a missing link to explain similarities in culture, art, architecture, legends and belief systems of distant cultures around the world – especially the pyramids. Donnelly argues that the original kings and queens of Atlantis have become confused for the gods and goddesses of the Greeks, Phoenicians, Hindus and Scandinavians. For Donnelly, myths of these pantheons have become confused with actual historical events.