A legendary island said to be located in the Atlantic Ocean. While the myths and legends about Atlantis are not a part of mainstream Theosophy, the subject seems to have fascinated many people during the nineteenth century, and Theosophical literature includes many references to it. The earliest reference to Atlantis is in Plato’s dialogs Timaeus and Critias, where Egyptian priests, speaking with Solon (an Athenian statesman of about the sixth century BCE), described the island as a country bigger than Asia Minor and Libya, situated just beyond the Pillars of Hercules with a number of smaller islands beyond it. Plato states that Atlantis existed some 9000 years before his time, that it was an ideal commonwealth, and that its armies overran the Mediterranean region with only Athens resisting.
Medieval writers may have received other information about Atlantis from Arabian geographers, which encouraged their acceptance that such a country actually existed. Many widely scattered peoples have traditions about a deluge long ago, which some suggest may have been the memory of the submergence of Atlantis. When it was first published in 1882, Ignatius Donnelly’s Atlantis: the Antediluvian World caused an increased interest in the Atlantis myth.
H. P. BLAVATSKY, in The Secret Doctrine, writes at some length about the lost continent of Atlantis and its people; she suggests that both the Greeks and Romans are descended from them. She considered Atlanteans to have been a fourth ROOT RACE people who misused their considerable psychic powers, thus bringing catastrophe upon themselves. She also suggested that Atlantis was the source of the VEDAS, a suggestion disputed by the Brahman scholar, T. Subba Row (CW 3:402).
Psychic researchers claim to have discovered evidence of the former existence of Atlantis, but no evidence to that effect has convinced modern archaeologists. The perennial appeal of the Atlantis myth is not its role as history, but rather as archetypal symbolism (cf “Atlantis and Lemuria: Myth and History,” preface to Legends of Atlantis and Lemuria by W. Scott-Elliot, Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1990). Atlantis is an exotic variant of the Flood myth in the Book of Genesis.
Philip Sydney Harris