Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Remember When . . . You'd Hang a Left at Atlantis?

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I've already dedicated a few Remember When Wednesdays to my 20s historical set in Egypt, I know. But it occurred to me as I sat on the couch last night that I've talked about different aspects of Egypt, of the 20s, of tombs, of my research . . . and I haven't even brushed on one of the driving forces behind The Stars and the Sands. Atlantis!

We all know the popular ideas about a technologically advanced society that existed way back before most histories were recorded, which may or may not have destroyed itself with that technology, and which may or may not be buried somewhere under the waters of the Atlantic. It's the kind of story that captures the imagination. I mean, what's better for adventure than finding a Lost City?

Silly me keeps getting hung up on facts as I research Atlantis, though--the fact that it can't actually be where it's supposed to be leading the way. But the actual legend, which we get from Plato's Critias is really quite intriguing. So putting aside the question of whether it is (or was), let's have a little refresher course. =)

First, this came to us through a Greek, so it naturally starts with their gods. Poseidon, in this case, created an island, on which his descendants reigned. There were ten kings, and the chief of them was from the line of Atlas, Poseidon's oldest son. As the divine blood faded (those pesky humans, sullying it with mortality;-), the powerful Atlanteans grew greedy and lustful and pretty much decided to take over the world.

In typical Olympus fashion, the Gods weren't too keen on all their other little cities getting wiped off the map, so they wiped out the Atlanteans and sank the island-continent into the sea in a single day and night.

Apparently, though, this mystical world contained everything a heart could desire. Animals of all kinds, rich stones in blacks and reds, water and minerals, all kinds of foods, and a rare metal called "orichalum," which sparkles like fire. (I need to get me some of that!)

Interestingly, though this tale comes to us from a reputable source, there were a few centuries when Plato, being Greek and all, was deemed a stupid heathen and all his works were ignored. Stories of Atlantis went the way of other forgotten lore . . . until 1882, when a man named Ignatius Donnelly penned a tome called Atlantis: An Antediluvian World, which claimed that all societies descended from Atlantis, that it was wiped out in the Great Flood, but that "shared" technology on both sides of the world got their knowledge from Atlantis.

Though many of his claims have been disproven in recent years, he still managed to single-handedly resurrect the idea of Atlantis, so literature and Hollywood alike have Donnelly to thank for endless fodder for plotlines. And me! I have him to thank as well. Though I don't intend to make my characters find a city I'm none too sure is out there, they're going to have a lot of fun chasing it . . . and finding some other lost truths along the way.