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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsThe Life And Voyages Of Christopher Columbus_volume 2 - Appendix - No. 24
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The Life And Voyages Of Christopher Columbus_volume 2 - Appendix - No. 24 Post by :hafizladhani Category :Nonfictions Author :Washington Irving Date :April 2012 Read :1373

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The Life And Voyages Of Christopher Columbus_volume 2 - Appendix - No. 24

Appendix. No. XXIV.

Of the Atlantis of Plato.


The island Atalantis is mentioned by Plato in his dialogue of Timaeus. Solon, the Athenian lawgiver, is supposed to have traveled into Egypt. He is in an ancient city on the Delta, the fertile island formed by the Nile, and is holding converse with certain learned priests on the antiquities of remote ages, when one of them gives him a description of the island of Atalantis, and of its destruction, which he describes as having taken place before the conflagration of the world by Phaeton.

This island, he was told, had been situated on the Western Ocean, opposite to the Straits of Gibraltar. There was an easy passage from it to other islands, which lay adjacent to a large continent, exceeding in size all Europe and Asia. Neptune settled in this island, from whose son Atlas its name was derived, and he divided it among his ten sons. His descendants reigned here in regular succession for many ages. They made irruptions into Europe and Africa, subduing all Libya as far as Egypt, and Europe to Asia Minor. They were resisted, however, by the Athenians, and driven back to their Atlantic territories. Shortly after this there was a tremendous earthquake, and an overflowing of the sea, which continued for a day and a night. In the course of this the vast island of Atalantis, and all its splendid cities and warlike nations, were swallowed up, and sunk to the bottom of the sea, which, spreading its waters over the chasm, formed the Atlantic Ocean. For a long time, however, the sea was not navigable, on account of rocks and shelves, of mud and slime, and of the ruins of that drowned country.

Many, in modern times, have considered this a mere fable; others suppose that Plato, while in Egypt, had received some vague accounts of the Canary Islands, and, on his return to Greece, finding those islands so entirely unknown to his countrymen, had made them the seat of his political and moral speculations. Some, however, have been disposed to give greater weight to this story of Plato. They imagine that such an island may really have existed filling up a great part of the Atlantic, and that the continent beyond it was America, which, in such case, was not unknown to the ancients. Kircher supposes it to have been an island extending from the Canaries to the Azores; that it was really ingulfed in one of the convulsions of the globe, and that those small islands are mere shattered fragments of it.

As a farther proof that the New World was not unknown to the ancients, many have cited the singular passage in the Medea of Seneca, which is wonderfully apposite, and shows, at least, how nearly the warm imagination of a poet may approach to prophecy. The predictions of the ancient oracles were rarely so unequivocal.

Venient annis
Saecula seris, quilms Oceanus
Vincula rerum laxet, et ingens
Patent tellus, Typhisque novos
Detegat orbes, nee sit terris
Ultima Thule.

Gosselin in his able research into the voyages of the ancients, supposes the Atalantis of Plato to have been nothing more nor less than one of the nearest of the Canaries, viz. Fortaventura or Lancerote.

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Appendix. No. XXIII.The Zones.The zones were imaginary bands or circles in the heavens producing an effect of climate on corresponding belts on the globe of the earth. The polar circles and the tropics mark these divisions.The central region, lying beneath the track of the sun, was termed the torrid zone; the two regions between the tropics and the polar circles were termed the temperate zones, and the remaining parts, between the porlar circles and the poles, the frigid zones.The frozen regions near the poles were considered uninhabitable and unnavigable on account of the extreme cold. The burning zone, or rather
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