Atlantis: The Antediluvian World  by Ignatius Donnelly was first published by Harper & Bros. of New York in 1882 and is still in print today and continues to fire the imagination of many. Although it contains many assumptions, assertions and errors, it was a daring venture for its time, pulling together data from many disciplines to produce a coherent argument in favour of the reality of Atlantis.
Donnelly offers his readers the following thirteen propositions at the beginning of his tome giving the flavour of its contents:
(1) That there once existed in the Atlantic Ocean, opposite the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea, a large island, which was the remnant of an Atlantic continent, and known to the ancient world as Atlantis.
(2) That the description given by Plato is not, as has been long supposed, fable, but veritable history.
(3) That Atlantis was the region where man first rose from a state of barbarism to civilisation.
(4) That it became, in the course of ages, a populous and mighty nation, from whose overflowings the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River, the Amazon, the Pacific coast of South America, the Mediterranean, the west coast of Europe and Africa, the Baltic, the Black Sea and the Caspian were populated by civilised nations.
(5) That it was the true Antediluvian world; the Garden of Eden; the Garden of Hesperides – where the Atlantides lived on the River Ocean in the West; the Elysian Fields situated by Homer to the west of the Earth; the Gardens of Alcinous – grandson of Poseidon and son of Nausithous, king of the Phaeacians of the island of Scheria; the Mesomphalous – or Navel of the Earth, a name given to the Temple at Delphi, which was situated in the crater of an extinct volcano; the Mount Olympus – of the Greeks; the Asgard – of the Eddas; the focus of the traditions of the ancient nations; representing a universal memory of a great land, where early mankind dwelt for ages in peace and happiness.
(6) That the gods and goddesses of the ancient Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Hindus, and the Scandinavians were simply the kings, queens, and heroes of Atlantis; and the acts attributed to them in mythology, a confused recollection of real historical events.
(8) That the oldest colony founded by the Atlanteans was probably in Egypt, whose civilisation was a reproduction of that of the Atlantic island.
(9) That the implements of the ‘Bronze Age’ of Europe were derived from Atlantis. The Atlanteans were also the first manufacturers of iron.
(10) That the Phoenician alphabet, parent of all European alphabets, was derived from an Atlantis alphabet, which was also conveyed from Atlantis to the Maya of Central America.
(11) That Atlantis was the original seat of Aryan or Indo-European family of nations, as well as of Semitic peoples, and possibly also of Turanian races (of central Asia).
(12) That Atlantis perished in a terrible convulsion of nature, in which the whole island was submerged by the ocean, with nearly all of its inhabitants.
(13) That a few persons escaped in ships and on rafts, and carried to the nations east and west tidings of the appalling catastrophe, which has survived to our own time in Flood and Deluge legends in the different nations of the Old and New Worlds.
Although some of these propositions now appear rather dated and are in some instances factually incorrect, we must keep in mind that they were written over a century ago. It is quite possible that without the impetus created by Donnelly’s book, Atlantis would have remained a relatively obscure subject.
The original text of Atlantis and that of Donnelly’s sequel, Ragnarok, are now available on a number of sites on the Internet(a).
In my view, although I say it with hindsight, all of Donnelly’s propositions are flawed and unsupported by any realistic interpretation of what Plato wrote. If speculation was a taxable commodity in 1882, Donnelly would have been bankrupted.
2014 saw the first translation of Donnelly’s Atlantis into Sinhalese by the Sri Lankan translator G.R.A. Perera(b).