“From a careful consideration of Plato’s description of Atlantis it is evident that the story should not be regarded as wholly historical but rather as both allegorical and historical. Origen, Porphyry, Proclus, Iamblichus, and Syrianus realized that the story concealed a profound philosophical mystery, but they disagreed as to the actual interpretation. Plato’s Atlantic symbolizes the threefold nature of both the universe and the human body. The ten kings are the tetractys, or numbers which are born as five pairs of opposites. … With the trident scepter of Poseidon these kings held sway over the inhabitants of the seven small and three great islands comprising Atlantis. Philosophically, the ten islands symbolize the triune power of the Superior Deity and the seven regents who bow before His eternal throne.” ~Manly P. Hall
One reason we have so much difficulty understanding the writings of the ancients is that we tend to think everything they wrote is intended to be historical fact, or is completely symbolic allegory. Plato’s tale of Atlantis is just one of many that are a mixture of both. The trick is knowing what to look at as fact and what to interpret as allegory and try to find it’s real meaning. In can get even more confusing when something is a historical fact, yet is used as allegory to explain something else. Sometimes, it is fairly obvious, such as when we read about flying ships in ancient Hindu books, that this was almost certainly allegory, but what is it’s meaning?
Hall tells us that the tale of Atlantis is allegory for the threefold nature of the universe and the body. What does he mean by that? I thing he is saying that just as man is made up of three “bodies”: the physical, the psychic and the spiritual, so is the universe, and Plato reflects this in his description of Atlantis. So if you search for a place that meets the physical description of Atlantis in the hope of finding the place, it won’t work. Atlantis was a real place, but the description of it is largely allegorical. Continue reading “Plato’s Atlantis”