YSTERIOUS WORLD: Spring 2002: The Legend of Atlantis Part I: A...http://mysteriousworld.com/Journal/2002/Spring/Atlantis/ 10/20/2007 5:35 PM
Phaeton in Apollo's sun chariot. FromBulfinch'sMythology: The Age of Fable - Phaeton
of many causes; the greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fireand water, and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes. There is astory, which even you have preserved, that once upon a timePhaeton...
having yoked the steeds in his father's chariot, because he was not able todrive them in the path of his father, burnt up all that was upon the earth, andwas himself destroyed by a thunderbolt. Now this has the form of a myth, butreally signifies a declination of the bodies moving in the heavens around theearth, and a great conflagration of things upon the earth, which recurs afterlong intervals; at such times those who live upon the mountains and in dryand lofty places are more liable to destruction than those who dwell by riversor on the seashore. And from this calamity the Nile, who is our never-failingsaviour, delivers and preserves us.
Interestingly, the priest actuallyexplained in plain terms that the Phaetonmyth was meant to symbolize
that took place inEarth's ancient past. At some time in thecommon heritage of both peoples, Earthhad endured a fiery disaster fromheaven. More important to this story,however, as the priest was about toexplain, there have been destructions notonly by fire, but by water as well:When, on the other hand, the gods purge the earth with a deluge of water, thesurvivors in your country are herdsmen and shepherds who dwell on themountains, but those who, like you, live in cities are carried by the rivers intothe sea. Whereas in this land, neither then nor at any other time, does thewater come down from above on the fields, having always a tendency tocome up from below; for which reason the traditions preserved here are themost ancient. The fact is, that wherever the extremity of winter frost or of summer does not prevent, mankind exists, sometimes in greater, sometimesin lesser numbers. And whatever happened either in your country or in ours,or in any other region of which we are informed — if there were any actionsnoble or great or in any other way remarkable, they have all been writtendown by us of old, and are preserved in our temples.
In either case, through fire or through water, when the destruction comes, the priestsof Egypt were consistently saved by the ever-reliable Nile, keeping them stable whenthe rest of the world was in chaos. However, it was one deluge in particular that wasan integral part of the story that was about to unfold, a destruction by water that wasawesome in its scope and effect upon the ancient world.Whereas just when you and other nations are beginning to be provided withletters and the other requisites of civilized life,
after the usual interval, thestream from heaven, like a pestilence, comes pouring down
, and leaves onlythose of you who are destitute of letters and education; and so you have tobegin all over again like children, and know nothing of what happened inancient times, either among us or among yourselves. As for those genealogiesof yours which you just now recounted to us, Solon, they are no better thanthe tales of children. In the first place you remember a single deluge only, butthere were many previous ones; in the next place, you do not know that thereformerly dwelt in your land the fairest and noblest race of men which everlived, and that you and your whole city are descended from a small seed orremnant of them which survived. And this was unknown to you, because, formany generations, the survivors of that destruction died, leaving no writtenword. For there was a time, Solon, before the great deluge of all, when thecity which now is Athens was first in war and in every way the best governed3