Atlantis, part 3

In ancient times the people of Atlantis were blessed with wisdom. They used their advanced arts and sciences for the benefit of all, not to increase the power and comfort of the few. The Atlanteans harnessed the power of the sun, the water, and their own minds to achieve wondrous things. But over time, the comforts and ease of life that they gained made them selfish, petty and quarrelsome. As a people they became greedy and warlike, and used their knowledge to create new technology and terrible new weapons, with which they conquered other peoples and ruled over them like gods. The Atlanteans became masters of the planet, but in so doing they lost the wisdom that had once guided them. They forgot the true power that came from their own hearts and minds, and began instead to worship the machines that brought air, land and sea under their control.

According to Plato, Zeus grew angry at the aggression and arrogance of the Atlanteans and he punished them by destroying their island and sinking it under the waves. In our time, various prophets and visionaries have come up with their own explanations for the fall of Atlantis. In one such story, the Atlanteans developed a power source using immense crystals. At first the crystals were used for good, but an evil faction among the people took power and used the crystals wrecklessly, as weapons. The result was a catastrophic explosion that sank the island. Other writers suggest the island was struck by an asteroid or suffered some other natural disaster, like a tsunami.

These three stories illustrate three main ways in which the story of Atlantis has been made use of: first, to give a lesson on the power of the gods, secondly, to warn us of the dangers of our own arrogant over-reliance on technology, and thirdly, perhaps to suggest that nature itself has the final say, no matter how powerful we humans think we are.

It's no wonder the story of Atlantis has captivated our imaginations for centuries. Like any myth, it's a story that can have many meanings, and yet not be exhausted by the meanings that we find in it.