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5. Did we bring it about, that ten thousand years ago a vast number of men burst forth from the island which is called the Atlantis of Neptune,32543254    In the Timæus of Plato, c. vi. st. p. 24, an old priest of Saïs, in Egypt, is represented as telling Solon that in times long gone by the Athenians were a very peaceful and very brave people, and that 9,000 years before that time they had overcome a mighty host which came rushing from the Atlantic Sea, and which threatened to subjugate all Europe and Asia. The sea was then navigable, and in front of the pillars of Hercules (Strait of Gibraltar) lay an island larger than Africa and Asia together: from it travellers could pass to other islands, and from these again to the opposite continent. In this island great kings arose, who made themselves masters of the whole island, as well as of other islands, and parts of the continent. Having already possessions in Libya and Europe, which they wished to increase, they gathered an immense host; but it was repelled by the Athenians. Great earthquakes and storms ensued, in which the island of Atlantis was submerged, and the sea ever after rendered impassable by shoals of mud produced by the sunken island. For other forms of this legend, and explanations of it, see Smith’s Dictionary of Geography, under Atlantis; [also Ancient America, p. 175, Harpers, 1872. This volume, little known, seems to me “stranger than fiction,” and far more interesting]. as Plato tells us, and utterly ruined and blotted out countless tribes? Did this form a prejudice against us, that between the Assyrians and Bactrians, under the leadership of Ninus and Zoroaster of old, a struggle was maintained not only by the sword and by physical power, but also by magicians, and by the mysterious learning of the Chaldeans? Is it to be laid to the charge of our religion, that Helen was carried off under the guidance and at the instigation of the gods, and that she became a direful destiny to her own and to after times? Was it because of our name, that that mad-cap Xerxes let the ocean in upon the land, and that he marched over the sea on foot? Did we produce and stir into action the causes, by reason of which one youth, starting from Macedonia, subjected the kingdoms and peoples of the East to captivity and to bondage? Did we, forsooth, urge the deities into frenzy, so that the Romans lately, like some swollen torrent, overthrew all nations, and swept them beneath the flood? But if there is no man who would dare to attribute to our times those things which took place long ago, how can we be the causes of the present misfortunes, when nothing new is occurring, but all things are old, and were unknown to none of the ancients?


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