THE MORAL OF ATLANTIS


Atlantis was a mythical kingdom of great power and achievement in the ancient world. Where it was situated remains something of a mystery. The standard book on the subject, The End of Atlantis (1969) by J.V.Luce of Trinity College, Dublin, placed Atlantis on the volcanic island of Thera in the Greek Aegean. An important book by Jürgen Spanuth, Atlantis of the North (1979), suggested that Atlantis was centred on the Scandinavian island of Heligoland, and achieved its significance and prosperity in times when northern lands were warmer and more fertile. Others have placed Atlantis off the coasts of Brittany, or even in mid-Atlantic.
          Wherever Atlantis may have been, one common thread runs through the imagery (from Homer to Plato and beyond) associated with the Atlanteans (or people of that land). Having reached an extraordinarily wealthy and civilised level, that society was destroyed virtually overnight by some cataclysmic destructive force, which left all that they had achieved a mere folk memory for later generations.
          J.V.Luce sees that “cataclysmic destructive force” as being volcanic eruption. Others have surmised (which seems an attractive proposition to me) that Atlantean wealth and technical expertise derived from having learnt to harness the power of the sun for human benefit and advancement. And then greed for more led the Atlanteans to try to increase their refractory harvesting of the sun’s heat; and in the process they blew themselves literally into smithereens.
          COVID-19 has not yet (!) achieved the situation where nothing at all is left of what went before. To that limited extent we are luckier than the Atlanteans of yore. But too much are we obsessed with the notion of “getting back to normal, to where we were before”. We should pay heed to the moral of Atlantis, and try to reshape a “new world”.
          Living in closely-packed cities is a recipe for chaos. Relying on air-travel as a norm is ultimately destructive and self-defeating. Above all we need to reverse the deeply-engrained Victorian idea of “Onwards and Upwards for ever” - an impossible dream! And we need to cultivate as primary the native American ideal of “hambeday” - a very difficult word to define, but including the ideas of silence before nature, reverence for nature, and har¬monious living in and with nature - see the important 2002 book ‘Light on the Indian World: The Essential Writings of Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa).
          Then possibly - just possibly - we may deserve to survive in some form into the future.



Dr.Martin Pulbrook




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