Atlantis: The Antediluvian World. By Ignatius Donnelly. Illustrated. New York: Harper & Brothers. Pp. 490.
Mr. Donnelly, who writes with an enthusiasm which only an unquestioning faith in his theory can beget, undertakes to establish in this book—
That there once existed in the Atlantic Ocean, opposite the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea, a large island, which was the remnant of an Atlantic Continent, and known to the ancients as Atlantis; that Plato's description of such an island was not fable, but veritable history; that it was the region where man first rose to civilization, and became a populous and mighty nation, whence settlements were made, all around the Mediterranean, and in Western Europe and Africa, in the regions of the Baltic, Black, and Caspian Seas, and in parts of America; that it was the true Antediluvian world, the seat of the gods, and the happy lands, under whatever name the ancients of different nations called them; that the gods and goddesses of the ancient Greek and other nations were the kings, queens, and heroes of ancient Atlantis, and that the acts attributed to them in mythology are confused recollections of historical events; that the Peruvian and ancient Egyptian mythologies represented an original Atlantean sun worship; that Egypt and Egyptian civilization were derived directly from Atlantis; that the implements of the "Bronze age" were also derived thence, and iron was first used there; that the Phœnician alphabet, the parent of all the European alphabets, and the Maya alphabet of Mexico, were derived from there; that this island was the original seat of the Aryan and Semitic families of nations, and possibly also of the Turanians; and that the nation perished in a convulsion by which the whole island was sunk into the ocean with most of its inhabitants, but that a few escaped in ships or on rafts, and spread the news through the world, whence the flood legends of the various nations.
A semi-historical support is claimed for the principal feature of this theory in Plato's record of what the Egyptian priests are said to have told Solon of Atlantis and its destruction, and in corroborative incidents in other ancient literature. The possibility of such a catastrophe as the destruction of the island is affirmed upon geological evidence. The deep-sea surveys have furnished evidence of the existence of an immense elevation in the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, the contour and profile of which are in harmony with the descriptions of the ancient Atlantis. Some peculiarities of the flora and fauna of the two continents which have puzzled naturalists could be easily accounted for if the existence of an intermediate continent as an original center of distribution could be predicated. The flood legends of all nations are quoted and examined by Mr. Donnelly, and shown to be reconcilable with this theory, and through it with each other. Numerous remarkable features of community in the civilizations of the Old World and the New—seeming evidences of former intercourse between the two continents, which seem to be constantly increasing—and many now hard problems in anthropology would no longer be difficult to account for, but would appear quite natural if we were allowed to suppose that men have radiated in all directions from a primary home in Atlantis. Numerous legends in the mythologies of Eastern and Western nations, curiously like each other in some features, seem to point to such a place. The Book of Genesis is found by Mr. Donnelly to be a fairly good history of Atlantis. The origin of bronze has been an impenetrable mystery. In the nature of things, copper, and perhaps tin, must have been first used separately; yet no evidence of the use of either has ever been found, except of copper in the neighborhood of Lake Superior, where implements of that metal and the marks of ancient workings of the mines have been found. Mr. Donnelly postulates as a solution of the mystery, that the Atlanteans invented bronze and introduced it into other parts of the world, and that they may have been acquainted with Lake Superior copper. Hundreds of coincidences are traced between features of the monuments, traditions, and customs of the ancient Eastern nations and of the ancient Americans, and are referred to Atlantis for explanation. Mr. Donnelly gives especial attention to lingual and alphabetic analogies, and devotes a whole chapter to tracing resemblances between the Maya alphabet, as