The story of Atlantis
An investigation of Plato's account of Atlantis: its history, arts and sciences
In a previous article we introduced the subject of Atlantology—as the scientific study of Atlantis is termed. If you have not read it, now is the time to do so, to familiarise yourself with the subject. In this investigation we aim to present you with further facts about Atlantis, drawing primarily on Plato's account of the lost continent given in his dialogues Timaeus and Critias.
Some authors who have written about Atlantis have the gift of far-seeing vision, though in most cases it is employed unconsciously. We mentioned this in our review of some of H Rider Haggard's historical novels, which in parts contain accurate descriptions of Atlantis as it was at the height of its glory, as well as during its decline. So, our afterword will consist of some of his accounts of the arts, sciences and conditions which prevailed in Atlantis—possibly a million years ago—however unlikely that may seem.
Such methods of investigating the past are no less scientific—when properly conducted—as the researches of palaeontologists, archaeologists and historians. Indeed, they are often far more accurate, detailed and revealing. It is by such means that the Sages of ancient Egypt, of India and other places, obtained some of their knowledge of the distant past. But only after each separate account had been rigorously tested, compared and verified by countless generations of initiates, was it accepted and established as historical fact. Moreover, time is not what most people think it is. To the mind of the true seer, whether born or developed through mystical exercises, and whether it is consciously or unconsciously employed, the past, present and future are one, and if he or she is accomplished enough, the whole history of our earth and its peoples is an open book. This may seem far-fetched to some readers, but we assure you we write the truth.
But the main purpose of this investigation is to tell the story of Atlantis, as it was set down by Plato, nearly 2,400 years ago in his dialogues Timaeus and Critias, from which we have extracted the most important parts. You can find these dialogues in print and online (see further reading list in the sidebar). Before we begin, we wish to make it quite clear that there is nothing fanciful, imaginative or speculative in Plato's record, no matter what modern authorities may say to the contrary. Plato was an initiate of the Greek Mysteries and had also studied in the mystery schools of Egypt, a few of which still existed during the 4th century B.C., at a time when Egypt had thrown off the yoke of the Persian invaders and native pharaohs reigned once more over the land. As such, he would have learnt all there was to know in his times about Atlantis. But, owning to the strict vow of secrecy which was required of all those who were initiated into the Mysteries, Plato was compelled to conceal much of what he knew under the cloak of allegory, myth and symbolism in the time-honoured manner of all initiates. Unless we keep this firmly in mind, we are apt to fall into the same trap as those scholars, past and present, who see nothing more in his descriptions of Atlantis than a thinly-disguised political and social allegory for his 'ideal state'.
This 'ideal state' was Atlantis, and had already been and gone by the time he wrote his dialogues. But this is not something he could openly say, and so successful was he at hiding his true meaning that his own pupil, Aristotle, and almost every uninitiated philosopher and classical scholar since, has concluded that Timaeus and Critias are concerned solely with political philosophy and not historical fact. That swamp of contemporary nescience, Wikipedia, calls Plato's dialogues "an allegory on the hubris of nations." We would say that Wikipedia itself is an allegory of the hubris of our modern generation which daily swallows the camels of scientific orthodoxy, whilst straining at the tiniest of esoteric gnats, and considers that anything the ancients knew, it knows better, but let that pass.
So, bearing all this in mind let us sit at the feet of this peer among philosophers and see what the Athenian Sage had to say about the 'mythical' lost continent. We have interpolated a few explanatory comments here and there to make Plato's meaning clearer to our readers, and these appear in square [——] brackets. We begin with his Timaeus.
Plato's account of Atlantis in Timaeus
In the Egyptian Delta, at the head of which the River Nile divides, there is a certain district which is called the district of Sais, and the great city of the district is also called Sais, and is the city from which King Amasis came. [Amasis is the Greek transcription of the Egyptian name Ah-mes, or Ahmose. This pharaoh reigned during the 26th dynasty of Egypt, ca. 550 B.C.] The citizens have a deity for their foundress; she is called in the Egyptian tongue Neith [Net], and is asserted by them to be the same whom the Hellenes call Athene; they are great lovers of the Athenians, and say that they are in some way related to them. [This is true, for both the most ancient Greeks and the Egyptians were the descendants of Atlantean colonists].
To this city came Solon, and was received there with great honour; he asked the priests who were most skilful in such matters, about antiquity, and made the discovery that neither he nor any other Hellene knew anything worth mentioning about the times of old. On one occasion, wishing to draw them on to speak of antiquity, he began to tell about the most ancient things in our part of the world. Thereupon one of the priests, who was of a very great age, said: O Solon, Solon, you Hellenes are all children, and there is not an old man among you.
Solon in return asked him what he meant. I mean to say, the priest replied, that in mind you are all young; there is no old opinion handed down among you by ancient tradition, nor any science which is hoary with age. And I will tell you why. There have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; the greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fire and water, and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes.
The fact is, that. . .if there were any actions noble or great or in any other way remarkable, they have all been written down by us of old, and are preserved in our temples. Whereas just when you and other nations are beginning to be provided with letters and the other requisites of civilized life, after the usual interval, the stream from heaven, like a pestilence, comes pouring down, and leaves only those of you who are destitute of letters and education; and so you have to begin all over again like children, and know nothing of what happened in ancient times, either among us or among yourselves. [Here we have the principal reason why so little is known about Atlantis].
In the first place you remember a single deluge only, but there were many previous ones; in the next place, you do not know that there formerly dwelt in your land the fairest and noblest race of men which ever lived, and that you and your whole city are descended from a small seed or remnant of them which survived. And this was unknown to you, because, for many generations, the survivors of that destruction died, leaving no written word. For there was a time, Solon, before the greatest deluge of all, when the city which now is Athens was first in war and in every way the best governed of all cities, is said to have performed the noblest deeds and to have had the fairest constitution of any of which tradition tells, under the face of heaven [This probably refers to the destruction of the remaining parts of Atlantis 11,500 years ago, which we discussed in our previous article about the lost continent].
Many great and wonderful deeds are recorded of your state in our histories. But one of them exceeds all the rest in greatness and valour. For these histories tell of a mighty power which unprovoked made an expedition against the whole of Europe and Asia, and to which your city put an end. This power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean [i.e. they were Atlantean invaders], for in those days the Atlantic was navigable; and there was an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles [the modern Straits of Gibraltar]. The island was larger than Libya and Asia put together, and was the way to other islands, and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent which surrounded the true ocean [the Atlantic]; for this sea which is within the Straits of Heracles is only a harbour, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a real sea, and the surrounding land may be most truly called a boundless continent [North and South America].
Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent, and, furthermore, the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia [the west coast of Italy]. This vast power, gathered into one, endeavoured to subdue at a blow our country and yours and the whole of the region within the straits; and then, Solon, your country shone forth, in the excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind.
She was pre-eminent in courage and military skill, and was the leader of the Hellenes. And when the rest fell off from her, being compelled to stand alone, after having undergone the very extremity of danger, she defeated and triumphed over the invaders, and preserved from slavery those who were not yet subjugated, and generously liberated all the rest of us who dwell within the pillars. But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea. For which reason the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island.
[Thus ends Plato's account of Atlantis in Timaeus. The last lines tell us that the flood which submerged Atlantis also inundated the Mediterranean Sea and caused widespread devastation as far as Egypt, a fact corroborated by the severe weathering on the body of the Sphinx on the Giza plateau, which some thinking archaeologists and Egyptologists consider was caused by water erosion during its lengthy submergence. Plato continues his account in Critias as follows:]
Plato's account of Atlantis in Critias
I have before remarked in speaking of the allotments of the gods, that they distributed the whole earth into portions differing in extent [the various continents described in the Puranas and other sacred texts] and made for themselves temples and instituted sacrifices. And Poseidon, receiving for his lot the island of Atlantis, begat children by a mortal woman [the Fourth, Atlantean Root Race as described by H. P. Blavatsky in volume 2 of The Secret Doctrine], and settled them in a part of the island, which I will describe. Looking towards the sea, but in the centre of the whole island, there was a plain which is said to have been the fairest of all plains and very fertile. Near the plain again, and also in the centre of the island at a distance of about fifty stadia [6 miles], there was a mountain not very high on any side. [A 'stadia' was a Greek measure for a distance of 600 feet, roughly equivalent to the modern furlong, or eighth of a mile]
In this mountain there dwelt one of the earth born primeval men of that country, whose name was Evenor, and he had a wife named Leucippe, and they had an only daughter who was called Cleito. The maiden had already reached womanhood, when her father and mother died; Poseidon fell in love with her and had intercourse with her, and breaking the ground, inclosed the hill in which she dwelt all round, making alternate zones of sea and land larger and smaller, encircling one another; there were two of land and three of water, which he turned as with a lathe, each having its circumference equidistant every way from the centre, so that no man could get to the island, for ships and voyages were not as yet. He himself, being a god, found no difficulty in making special arrangements for the centre island, bringing up two springs of water from beneath the earth, one of warm water and the other of cold, and making every variety of food to spring up abundantly from the soil. He also begat and brought up five pairs of twin male children; and dividing the island of Atlantis into ten portions, he gave to the first-born of the eldest pair his mother's dwelling and the surrounding allotment, which was the largest and best, and made him king over the rest; the others he made princes, and gave them rule over many men, and a large territory.
[We need hardly add that all this is an allegorical and symbolical rendering of what the Egyptian priests told Solon. 'Evenor' and 'Leucippe' remind us of Adam and Eve in Genesis. It is the age-old story of the 'Gods' (Poseidon) coming in to the daughters of man (Cleito) and instructing them in the Heavenly wisdom which is discussed at length in The Secret Doctrine. The rest of this part of Critias is a brief summary of the various nations of Atlantis, their distribution throughout the continent, and the development of agriculture, industry and civilisation. The mention of hot and cold water is interesting as the whole of the submerged Mid-Atlantic Ridge which once formed the backbone of Atlantis is peppered with clusters of volcanoes, some of immense size. The narrative continues:]
And he named them all; the eldest, who was the first king, he named Atlas, and after him the whole island and the ocean were called Atlantic. To his twin brother, who was born after him, and obtained as his lot the extremity of the island towards the Pillars of Heracles, facing the country which is now called the region of Gades [modern Cadiz in Spain] in that part of the world, he gave the name which in the Hellenic language is Eumelus, in the language of the country which is named after him, Gadeirus. Of the second pair of twins he called one Ampheres, and the other Evaemon. To the elder of the third pair of twins he gave the name Mneseus, and Autochthon to the one who followed him. Of the fourth pair of twins he called the elder Elasippus, and the younger Mestor. And of the fifth pair he gave to the elder the name of Azaes, and to the younger that of Diaprepes. All these and their descendants for many generations were the inhabitants and rulers of divers islands in the open sea; and also, as has been already said, they held sway in our direction over the country within the Pillars as far as Egypt and Tyrrhenia.
[The foregoing is a list of some of the major islands into which the main continent of Atlantis had already broken up prior to the great cataclysm which occurred 11,500 years ago, to which we referred earlier. From this it is clear that Plato deliberately mixed up what he knew of Atlantis, by conflating the much smaller Atlantic island of Poseidonis which we discussed in a previous article, with the main continent which had been submerged ages before.]
Now Atlas had a numerous and honourable family, and they retained the kingdom, the eldest son handing it on to his eldest for many generations; and they had such an amount of wealth as was never before possessed by kings and potentates, and is not likely ever to be again, and they were furnished with everything which they needed, both in the city and country. For because of the greatness of their empire many things were brought to them from foreign countries, and the island itself provided most of what was required by them for the uses of life. In the first place, they dug out of the earth whatever was to be found there, solid as well as fusile, and that which is now only a name and was then something more than a name, orichalcum, was dug out of the earth in many parts of the island, being more precious in those days than anything except gold.
[Although Plato clearly states that the fabulous metal 'orichalcum' was mined as a metallic ore, we incline to the view that it was probably an alloy of copper and zinc, similar to modern brass. Why do we say this? For three reasons. Firstly, because there is no room in the Periodic table of elements for an extra metal. Copper has the atomic number 29, zinc is next door at number 30, whilst gold and silver are numbered 79 and 47 respectively. Starting from boron, which has the atomic number 5, all the way to number 84, polonium, there are no gaps in the table. This is not to say that an extra metallic element does not exist, or could not have existed in the past, but it seems unlikely to us, and as our regular readers know, we try never to speculate, but stick to facts only.
The second reason is that Plato may have deliberately concealed the fact that orichalcum was an alloy, the secret manufacture of which was lost in his times. As we discussed in our article on the Egyptian colonists in England, the manufacture of alloys was a closely-guarded secret in ancient times, and with good reason, as it would give the possessor an enormous advantage in both warfare and commerce. The third reason is that in 2015, 39 ingots believed to be made of this fabulous metal were discovered in a sunken vessel off the coast of Sicily which have been dated at 2,600 years old. They turned out to be an alloy consisting of 75-80 per cent copper, 15-20 per cent zinc, and smaller percentages of nickel, lead, and iron. This date coincides closely with the composition of Plato's dialogues about Atlantis and it is possible that the ingots were the product of Atlantean colonists who did know the secret of its manufacture. Now we must continue with Plato's description of Atlantis.]
There was an abundance of wood for carpenter's work, and sufficient maintenance for tame and wild animals. Moreover, there were a great number of elephants in the island; for as there was provision for all other sorts of animals, both for those which live in lakes and marshes and rivers, and also for those which live in mountains and on plains. Also whatever fragrant things there now are in the earth, whether roots, or herbage, or woods, or essences which distil from fruit and flower, grew and thrived in that land...all these that sacred island which then beheld the light of the sun, brought forth fair and wondrous and in infinite abundance. With such blessings the earth freely furnished them; meanwhile they went on constructing their temples and palaces and harbours and docks. And they arranged the whole country in the following manner:
First of all they bridged over the zones of sea which surrounded the ancient metropolis, making a road to and from the royal palace. And at the very beginning they built the palace in the habitation of the god and of their ancestors, which they continued to ornament in successive generations, every king surpassing the one who went before him to the utmost of his power, until they made the building a marvel to behold for size and for beauty. And beginning from the sea they bored a canal of three hundred feet in width and one hundred feet in depth and fifty stadia [6 miles] in length, which they carried through to the outermost zone, making a passage from the sea up to this, which became a harbour, and leaving an opening sufficient to enable the largest vessels to find ingress.
Moreover, they divided at the bridges the zones of land which parted the zones of sea, leaving room for a single trireme to pass out of one zone into another, and they covered over the channels so as to leave a way underneath for the ships; for the banks were raised considerably above the water. Now the largest of the zones into which a passage was cut from the sea was three stadia in breadth [1,800 feet!], and the zone of land which came next of equal breadth; but the next two zones, the one of water, the other of land, were two stadia [1,200 feet], and the one which surrounded the central island was a stadium [600 feet] only in width. [These stupendous engineering achievements find their pale imitation in the aqueducts and canals built by the Romans millennia later, who undoubtedly inherited these skills from the Atlantean colonists, who as Plato tells us, spread out all over the Mediterranean.]
The stone which was used in the work they quarried from underneath the centre island, and from underneath the zones, on the outer as well as the inner side. One kind was white, another black, and a third red, and as they quarried, they at the same time hollowed out double docks, having roofs formed out of the native rock. [Possibly limestone, basalt and granite respectively.] Some of their buildings were simple, but in others they put together different stones, varying the colour to please the eye, and to be a natural source of delight. The entire circuit of the wall, which went round the outermost zone, they covered with a coating of brass, and the circuit of the next wall they coated with tin, and the third, which encompassed the citadel, flashed with the red light of orichalcum.
The palaces in the interior of the citadel were constructed on this wise: in the centre was a holy temple dedicated to Cleito and Poseidon [Mother-Father God?], which remained inaccessible, and was surrounded by an enclosure of gold; this was the spot where the family of the ten princes first saw the light, and thither the people annually brought the fruits of the earth in their season from all the ten portions, to be an offering to each of the ten. Here was Poseidon's own temple which was a stadium in length, and half a stadium in width, and of a proportionate height, having a strange barbaric appearance. [It is interesting that Plato says the main temple of this part of Atlantis was 'inaccessible', meaning that only the priests and nobility had access to it, just as was the case in ancient Egypt, Peru, and other places.]
All the outside of the temple, with the exception of the pinnacles, they covered with silver, and the pinnacles with gold. In the interior of the temple the roof was of ivory, curiously wrought everywhere with gold and silver and orichalcum; and all the other parts, the walls and pillars and floor, they coated with orichalcum. In the temple they placed statues of gold: there was the god himself standing in a chariot—the charioteer of six winged horses—and of such a size that he touched the roof of the building with his head. . . .[this seems wrong, as the number of the sacred planets among both the ancient Egyptians and Hindus was seven, not six, and this would fit in with the symbolism of the Sun—the giver of Life and Light—surrounded by the seven planets, which Plato may have deliberately obfuscated.] There were also in the interior of the temple other images which had been dedicated by private persons. And around the temple on the outside were placed statues of gold of all the descendants of the ten kings and of their wives [we find the same in ancient Egypt].
In the next place, they had fountains, one of cold and another of hot water, in gracious plenty flowing. They constructed buildings about them and planted suitable trees, also they made cisterns, some open to the heavens, others roofed over. [Similar underground reservoirs have been found in Persia and other places, some of vast size]. The water which ran off they carried some to the grove of Poseidon, where were growing all manner of trees of wonderful height and beauty, owing to the excellence of the soil, while the remainder was conveyed by aqueducts along the bridges to the outer circles; and there were many temples built and dedicated to many gods; also gardens and places of exercise. The docks were full of triremes and naval stores, and all things were quite ready for use. [All this tells us that the Atlanteans lived in considerable comfort and luxury in no way inferior to our own modern 'civilisation'.]
I have described the city and the environs of the ancient palace nearly in the words of Solon, and now I must endeavour to represent the nature and arrangement of the rest of the land. The whole country was said by him to be very lofty and precipitous on the side of the sea, but the country immediately about and surrounding the city was a level plain, itself surrounded by mountains which descended towards the sea; it was smooth and even, and of an oblong shape, extending in one direction three thousand stadia, but across the centre inland it was two thousand stadia. [These dimensions, which roughly equate to 360 by 240 miles in our measurements, can hardly have applied to such a vast continent as Atlantis was in the beginning of its history. Consequently, we incline to the view that Plato deliberately mixed up the accounts given to him by the Egyptian priests about the small island of Poseidonis which still existed some 12,000 years ago, with the larger landmass of Atlantis which broke up into several islands over a long course of time as we discussed in our previous article. But let Plato continue his account of Poseidonis.]
I will now describe the plain, as it was fashioned by nature and by the labours of many generations of kings through long ages. It was for the most part rectangular and oblong, and where falling out of the straight line followed the circular ditch. The depth, and width, and length of this ditch were incredible, and gave the impression that a work of such extent, in addition to so many others, could never have been artificial. Nevertheless I must say what I was told. It was excavated to the depth of a hundred, feet, and its breadth was a stadium everywhere; it was carried round the whole of the plain, and was ten thousand stadia in length. It received the streams which came down from the mountains, and winding round the plain and meeting at the city, was there let off into the sea. Further inland, likewise, straight canals of a hundred feet in width were cut from it through the plain, and again let off into the ditch leading to the sea: these canals were at intervals of a hundred stadia, and by them they brought down the wood from the mountains to the city, and conveyed the fruits of the earth in ships, cutting transverse passages from one canal into another, and to the city.
[This confirms the vast scale and excellence of the massive hydraulic works constructed by the Atlantean engineers and scientists over many generations. We referred to this in our previous article when we told you about similar works discovered in Tartessos in Spain by the 20th century English archaeologist E. M. Whishaw and described in her remarkable book Atlantis in Andalucia. These are engineering feats which we have only been able to replicate during the last few centuries; so much for progress! But not everything that the Atlanteans did is worthy of such admiration, as Plato now tells us].
For many generations, as long as the divine nature lasted in them, they were obedient to the laws, and well-affectioned towards the god, whose seed they were; for they possessed true and in every way great spirits, uniting gentleness with wisdom in the various chances of life, and in their intercourse with one another. They despised everything but virtue, caring little for their present state of life, and thinking lightly of the possession of gold and other property, which seemed only a burden to them; neither were they intoxicated by luxury; nor did wealth deprive them of their self-control; but they were sober, and saw clearly that all these goods are increased by virtue and friendship with one another, whereas by too great regard and respect for them, they are lost and friendship with them.
[But, alas, humanity is frail, and easily led astray from the path of virtue, and this came to pass in Atlantis too, and ultimately led to the practise of black magic which we discussed in our previous article, as Plato now makes clear.]
By such reflections and by the continuance in them of a divine nature, the qualities which we have described grew and increased among them; but when the divine portion began to fade away, and became diluted too often and too much with the mortal admixture, and the human nature got the upper hand, they then, being unable to bear their fortune, behaved unseemly, and to him who had an eye to see grew visibly debased, for they were losing the fairest of their precious gifts; but to those who had no eye to see the true happiness, they appeared glorious and blessed at the very time when they were full of avarice and unrighteous power. Zeus, the god of gods, who rules according to law, and is able to see into such things, perceiving that an honourable race was in a woeful plight, and wanting to inflict punishment on them, that they might be chastened and improve, collected all the gods into their most holy habitation, which, being placed in the centre of the world, beholds all created things. And when he had called them together, he spake as follows——
[Here Critias ends abruptly. The rest of the text has been lost, or perhaps it was deliberately destroyed. However, we can tell you what Critias said next, for The Secret Doctrine describes what befell the earth in those days in full payment for man's wilfulness, selfishness and greed, which we have rendered in our own words.]
And when he had called them together, he spake as follows: "The sins of men have become so black that all the earth suffers from their wickedness. One night and two days only shall the Sorcerers live on this patient land. She is doomed, and they have to descend with her. The hour has struck, the black night is ready, let the destiny of the wicked be accomplished that they might learn what awaits those who break the laws of God and Man. And Atlantis vanished and was buried beneath the terror of the all-embracing Waters of the Sea."
We dwell in similar times today and there are ominous signs and portents of the harvest to come if man does not learn the lessons of the past. So we say to all our readers, watch and pray, for the signs are very ominous, lest it be said of you, as it was said of the foolish virgins in the Bible: "And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh" (Matthew: 25:10-13).
Thomas Cole — The Consummation of Empire — oil on canvas, 1836
In January to March 2019, we published a three-part investigation into the migrations of the Atlanteans and the colonies they founded around the world. In the three afterwords to this new investigation we explore the Oera Linda Book in considerable depth. Our regular readers will recall we briefly reviewed this remarkable book in our first article about the Lost Continent. Readers who are interested in exploring the rich legacy of Atlantis and the Ancient Wisdom contained in the Oera Linda Book further, will be sure to enjoy this extension of our studies of Atlantis. Meanwhile, we hope this article has opened your eyes to the wonders and terrors of the past—for—as the Bible tells us: "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
© Copyright occult-mysteries.org. Article added 17 July 2018. Updated 19 January 2021.