Sacred Texts  Atlantis  Index  Previous  Next 

Testimony of Ancient Writers

It only remains now to summarize some of the evidence obtainable from ancient writers, from early race traditions, and from archaic flood-legends.

Aelian in his Varia Historia,[1] states that Theopompus (400 B.C.) recorded an interview between the King of Phrygia and Silenus, in which the latter referred to the existence of a great continent beyond the Atlantic, larger than Asia, Europe and Libya together.

Proclus quotes an extract from an ancient writer who refers to the islands in the sea beyond the Pillars of Hercules (Straits of Gibraltar), and says that the inhabitants of one of these islands had a tradition from their ancestors of an extremely large island called Atlantis, which for a long time ruled over all the islands of the Atlantic Ocean.

Marcellus speaks of seven islands in the Atlantic, and states that their inhabitants preserve the memory of a much greater island, Atlantis, "which had for a long time exercised dominion over the smaller ones."

Diodorus Siculus relates that the Phoenicians discovered "a large island in the Atlantic Ocean beyond the Pillars of Hercules several days' sail from the coast of Africa."

But the greatest authority on this subject is Plato. In the Timaeus he refers to the island continent, while the Critias or Atlanticus is nothing less than a detailed account of the history, arts, manners and customs of

[1. Lib. iii., ch. xviii.]

the people. In the Timaeus he refers to "a mighty warlike power, rushing from the Atlantic sea and spreading itself with hostile fury over all Europe and Asia. For at that time the Atlantic sea was navigable and had an island before that mouth which is called by you the Pillars of Hercules. But this island was greater than both Libya and all Asia together, and afforded an easy passage to other neighbouring islands, as it was likewise easy to pass from those islands to all the continents which border on this Atlantic sea."

There is so much of value in the Critias that it is not easy to choose, but the following extract is given, as it bears on the material resources of the country: "They had likewise everything provided for them which both in a city and every other place is sought after as useful for the purposes of life. And they were supplied indeed with many things from foreign countries, on account of their extensive empire; but the island afforded them the greater part of everything of which they stood in need. In the first place the island supplied them with such things as are dug out of mines in a solid state, and with such as are melted: and orichalcum, which is now but seldom mentioned, but then was much celebrated, was dug out of the earth in many parts of the island, and was considered as the most honourable of all metals except gold. Whatever, too, the woods afforded for builders the island produced in abundance. There were likewise sufficient pastures there for tame and savage animals; together with a prodigious number of elephants. For there were pastures for all such animals as are fed in lakes and rivers; on mountains and in plains. And in like manner there was sufficient aliment for the largest and most voracious kind of animals. Besides this, whatever of odoriferous the earth nourishes at present, whether roots, or grass, or wood, or juices, or gums, flowers or fruits-these the island produced and produced them well."

The Gauls possessed traditions of Atlantis which were collected by the Roman historian, Timagenes, who lived in the first century, B.C. Three distinct peoples apparently dwelt in Gaul. First, the indigenous population (probably the remains of a Lemurian race), second, the invaders from the distant island of Atlantis, and third, the Aryan Gauls.*

The Toltecs of Mexico traced themselves back to a starting-point called Atlan or Aztlan; the Aztecs also claimed to come from Aztlan.[2]

The Popul Vuh[3] speaks of a visit paid by three sons of the King of the Quiches to a land "in the east on the shores of the sea whence their fathers had come," from which they brought back amongst other things "a system of writing."[4]

Amongst the Indians of North America there is a very general legend that their forefathers came from a land "toward the sun-rising." The Iowa and Dakota Indians, according to Major J. Lind, believed that "all the tribes of Indians were formerly one and dwelt together on an island . . . towards the sunrise." They crossed the sea from thence "in huge

[1. See Pre-Adamites, p. 380.

2. See Bancroft's Native Races, vol. v. pp. 221 and 321.

3. Page 294.

4. See also Bancroft, Vol. V., p. 553.]

skiffs in which the Dakotas of old floated for weeks, finally gaining dry land."

The Central American books state that a part of the American continent extended far into the Atlantic Ocean, and that this region was destroyed by a series of frightful cataclysms at long intervals apart. Three of these are frequently referred to.[1] It is a curious confirmation that the Celts of Britain had a legend that part of their country once extended far into the Atlantic and was destroyed. Three catastrophes are mentioned in the Welsh traditions.

Quetzalcoatl, the Mexican Deity, is said to have come from "the distant east." He is described as a white man with a flowing beard. (N.B.-The Indians of North and South America are beardless.) He originated letters and regulated the Mexican calendar. After having taught them many peaceful arts and lessons he sailed away to the east in a canoe made of serpent skins.[2] The same story is told of Zamna, the author of civilization in Yucatan.

The marvellous uniformity of the flood legends on all parts of the globe, alone remains to be dealt with. Whether these are some archaic versions of the story of the lost Atlantis and its submergence, or whether they are echoes of a great cosmic parable once taught and held in reverence in some common centre whence they have reverberated throughout the world, does not immediately concern us. Sufficient for our purpose is it to show the universal acceptation of these legends. It would be needless waste of time and space

[1. See Baldwin's Ancient America, p. 176.

2. See Short's North Americans of Antiquity, pp. 268-271.]

to go over these flood stories one by one. Suffice it to say, that in India, Chaldea, Babylon, Media, Greece, Scandinavia, China, amongst the Jews and amongst the Celtic tribes of Britain, the legend is absolutely identical in all essentials. Now turn to the west and what do we find? The same story in its every detail preserved amongst the Mexicans (each tribe having its own version), the people of Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and almost every tribe of North American Indians. It is puerile to suggest that mere coincidence can account for this fundamental identity.

The following quotation from Le Plongeon's translation of the famous Troano MS., which may be seen in the British Museum, will appropriately bring this part of the subject to a close. The Troano MS. appears to have been written about 3,500 years ago, among the Mayas of Yucatan, and the following is its description of the catastrophe that submerged the island of Poseidonis:--"In the year 6 Kan, on the 11th Muluc in the month Zac, there occurred terrible earthquakes, which continued without interruption until the 13th Chuen. The country of the hills of mud, the land of Mu was sacrificed: being twice upheaved it suddenly disappeared during the night, the basin being continually shaken by volcanic forces. Being confined, these caused the land to sink and to r' se several times and in various places. At last the surface gave way and ten countries were torn asunder and scattered. Unable to stand the force of the convulsions, they sank with their 64,000,000 of inhabitants 8060 years before the writing of this book."

Next: The Occult Records