Tuesday, June 05, 2012

June 5, Atlantis, and Ignatius Donnelly

Atlantis map from a work by Athanasius Kircher

One wonders what the origin is of the human love of the unlikely, the irrational, bizarre and preposterous, but no amount of wonder will solve the puzzle. The chance that an advanced civilisation lies beneath the ocean, undetected by 21st-Century oceanography, satellite imaging, geology and any number of modern scientific aids, is slim indeed, but here we have a persistent legend which is probably believed by more people today than in the Middle Ages. I confess to having my own imp of fascination for many things to which I give no credence whatsoever. A hobgoblin, a tale from the crypt, a UFO or two can brighten the dreariest evening.

Atlantis, or so it is said, was a huge island lying beyond the Pillars of Hercules (now known as the Straits of Gibraltar) and its culture had dominated the Mediterranean nine thousand years before Solon, the lawmaker of Athens. From its ideal condition as an advanced culture, it deteriorated into a military aggressor, so the gods resolved to punish the civilisation. We have this on authority of Plato in his Timaeus and Critias (c. 350 BCE). He learned the story from his cousin, who got it from his grandfather, who heard it from his father, who got it from Solon himself, who heard it from the priests of Sais in Egypt in 590 BCE ...
Read on at the Atlantis page at the Scriptorium
Ignatius DonnellyIgnatius Donnelly
As an interesting sidelight, one of the most prominent 19th-century Atlantist authors (he made his fortune with Atlantis: the Antediluvian World) was Ignatius Donnelly (born Philadelphia, November 3, 1831), pictured, an idiosyncratic and somewhat quixotic American Congressman whose writings, particularly the utopian sci-fi novel, Cæsar's Column: A Story of the Twentieth Century, profoundly influenced the working class in pre-federation Australia. Perhaps ironically, he died in Minneapolis on January 1, 1901 (precisely 100 years before this Almanac was founded) on the first day of the century, the very day that Australia's federation took effect.

Donnelly is perhaps better known for his The Great Cryptogram: Francis Bacon's Cipher in Shakespeare's Plays about an alleged code in Shakespeare's work that reveals that Francis Bacon wrote much of Shakespeare's work.
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