It’s exactly 1 month and 8 days until the release of ‘The Immortal City’ and so I thought I’d change the usual blog format up to talk about Atlantis, in particular, two historical figures that are mentioned in the book; Plato and Helena Blavatsky.
Let’s start with Plato, the Greek Grand Daddy of all Atlantis theory and the closest primary source that we have on Atlantis. For those who don’t know, Plato was an Athenian philosopher that was born in Greece around 423 BC. He is considered one of the most important figures in Ancient Greek History and was the student of Socrates. Atlantis appears in Timaeus and Critias, two of Plato’s dialogues, recorded conversations of a group consisting of Socrates, Critias, Timaeus, Hermocrates and himself. Plato writes about an ancient Athens as an Ideal State, and its conflict with Atlantis, an advanced, mighty island nation. The God Zeus decides to punish Atlantis for its hubris and in the process, ancient Athens is also destroyed (because Zeus is a jerk like that).
In the dialogues, Plato writes that this smackdown from Zeus destroyed ancient Athens and Atlantis 9000 years ago, and that its history was lost during the disaster. It’s not until Solon, a wise sage of Greece and friend of the grandfather Critias, traveled to Egypt, specifically to the learned priests at Sais, sometime between 590-580 BC, that the story of Atlantis is re-discovered.
It’s in Critias that the full story of Atlantis comes out; an island nation created and beloved by Poseidon, ruled by his ten sons. We get a lot of history about how it was constructed, the nature and intelligence of its people. They were well known throughout the Aegean and Egypt through trade and its military prowess. Long story short, the peace between Athens and Atlantis disintegrates and after the war, earthquakes and volcanos destroy Atlantis, pulling it into the sea in a single day and night. Athens is also destroyed in the earthquakes and flooding, which is why it’s only in Egypt that the story of the nation and its conflict survives.
Sorry guys, magical crystals aren’t featured at all in Plato 🙂
(FYI- if you want to know more about those, beyond Disney’s Atlantis flick, look up Edgar Cayce)
So where does Thevetat and the conflict with the white priests/ magicians come into the story?? Well, that’s Helena Blavatsky’s area of expertise.
HPB, as she liked to style herself, is one of the most fascinatingly random figures involved with the Atlantis stories. Born in Russia in 1831, she was an occultist, philospher and co-founder of the Theosophical Society. She was a world traveller, who claimed she spent seven years studying in Tibet under Masters, she had a seance business in Cairo, lived in Paris and New York, and published multiple works including the 1885 book, The Secret Doctrine, The Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy. This work contains HPB’s version of Atlantis, one vastly different to Plato’s. Claiming that she recieved the history of Atlantis in trances, it goes alot into the first men or root races (theories that the Nazi’s would eventually latch onto) but I won’t bog you down in the complex theory of these, only to say that the Atlanteans were one of them.
The Secret Doctrine also talks about how the downfall of Atlantis came about when some of their peoples started using bad magic taught to them by a demon called Thevetat. This demon worship and practices were opposed by good magicians/ priests and a war broke out, and continued right up until the day Atlantis was destroyed. It also descibes how some of the good magicians managed to get to ships and flee before the final cataclysm.
It was this idea that I really latched onto during my research into Atlantis because there was so much a fantasy writer could play with. It didn’t hurt that it already aligned with a lot of the ideas I had about a group of magicians that managed to escape from Atlantis and who have been stuck in a magically long life ever since. History, my friends, is always so much stranger than you can ever believe.
If you want to know more about Atlantis and ALL of the stories, theories, science, history and believers I highly recommend the book in the photo, Stephen P. Kershaw’s ‘A Brief History of Atlantis.’ I have used this book as a quick reference guide so much in the past years and it’s an excellent starting point for anyone interested.
It’s probably important to reiterate here that I’m a fantasy writer, not a historian, who has always been endlessly fascinated by Atlantis, and ‘The Magicians of Venice’ is the series in which I’ve had the chance to really explore my nerdiness.
There will be more Atlantis and ‘The Immortal City’ specially themed blogs over the next few months that will give you an insight into history, the characters, locations from the book and all my other inspirations. As I said it’s still a month before ‘The Immortal City’ is out in the world but you can learn more about it and pre-order it here, or at your fave local bookstore.
p.s. Please note that the cards of Plato and Helena Blavatsky in my photos are from ‘Saints and Mystics’ reading card deck by the amazing Andres Engracia. The black and white pic of Helena is from Wikipedia.
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