Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Atlantis, Lemuria, and the Call of Cthulhu

Lovecraft's sketch of Cthulhu

Maeve Alpin and Cthulu - Comicpalooa 2015

In "The Call of Cthulhu" by H. P. Lovecraft he mentions the Victorian and Edwardian manuscripts by W. Scott-Elliot: "Atlantis and The Lost Lemuria. The other manuscript papers were all brief notes, some of them accounts of the queer dreams of different persons, some of them citations from
 theosophical books and magazines (notably W. Scott-Elliot’s Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria).”

Lovecraft actually read these before writing "The Call of Cthulhu." They inspired this
classic horror story. Both papers are available to read online from the Guternburg project.

W. Scott-Elliott claimed these works were dictated to him by the spirits of people who had lived on Atlantis and Lemuria. Atlantis begins with a lot of historical data that in this modern era we know is incorrect. It also mentions that there were several migrations out of Atlantis to other continents. These Atlantis emigrants brought knowledge with them. The Egyptians are specifically mentioned:

 "It is probable that the earliest form of alphabet was hieroglyphic, "the writing of the Gods," as the Egyptians called it, and that it developed later in Atlantis into the phonetic. It would be natural to assume that the Egyptians were an early colony from Atlantis (as they actually were) and that they carried away with them the primitive type of writing which has thus left its traces on both hemispheres.”

Also Scott-Elliot’s list of ancient sources that acknowledge the tale of Atlantis is interesting:

Aelian in his Varia Historia states that Theopompus (400 b.c.) recorded an interview between the King of Phrygia and Silenus, in which the latter referred to the existence of a great continent beyond the Atlantic, larger than Asia, Europe and Libya together.[

Proclus quotes an extract from an ancient writer who refers to the islands in the sea beyond the Pillars of Hercules (Straits of Gibraltar), and says that the inhabitants of one of these islands had a tradition from their ancestors of an extremely large island called Atlantis, which for a long time ruled over all the islands of the Atlantic Ocean.

Marcellus speaks of seven islands in the Atlantic, and states that their inhabitants preserve the memory of a much greater island, Atlantis, "which had for a long time exercised dominion over the smaller ones."

Diodorus Siculus relates that the Phoenicians discovered "a large island in the Atlantic Ocean beyond the Pillars of Hercules several days' sail from the coast of Africa."

But the greatest authority on this subject is Plato. He refers to the island continent, while the Critias or Atlanticus is nothing less than a detailed account of the history, arts, manners and customs of the people. He refers to "a mighty warlike power, rushing from the Atlantic sea and spreading itself with hostile fury over all Europe and Asia. For at that time the Atlantic sea was navigable and had an island before that mouth which is called by you the Pillars of Hercules. But this island was greater than both Libya and all Asia together, and afforded an easy passage to other neighboring islands, as it was likewise easy to pass from those islands to all the continents which border on this Atlantic sea."

The Lost Lemuria manuscript is similar to the Atlantis one. Lemuria is a lost continent just like Atlantis. Lemuria was believed to have been in the Pacific ocean and Atlantis in the Atlantic ocean. Lemuria is a more modern theory and deals with not just our history but our evolution. In his manuscript, Lemuria, W. Scott-Elliott  mentions what we would call ancient aliens. He theorizes that beings from Venus were of a far higher level than ordinary mankind has yet attained. “They were "divine" while we are only "human." These divine Beings came to give a helping hand.

"The positions occupied by the divine beings from the Venus chain were naturally those of rulers, instructors in religion, and teachers of the arts, and it is in this latter capacity that a reference to the arts taught by them comes to our aid in the consideration of the history of this early race.”

Lovecraft eludes to these old ones, aliens who lived on earth before humans.

"They worshipped, so they said, the Great Old Ones who lived ages before there were any men, and who came to the young world out of the sky. Those Old Ones were gone now, inside the earth and under the sea; but their dead bodies had told their secrets in dreams to the first men, who formed a cult which had never died.”

In fact in the story, The Call of Cthulhu, Cthulhu is the King of these people who came from the stars. He has a face of tentacles, a scale dragon body, and small black wings.  

The Call of Cthulhu is free to read online. 

Here is my brief review of The Call of Cthulhu:

“In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”

As a nephew looks thorough his grand uncle's things upon his death, a story begins to unfold. In a box, he discovers an odd clay bas-relief, cut out articles, and a manuscript titled CTHULHU CULT.This is how this classic tale of horror begins. The nephew follows the trail of his uncle's notes and interviews a few other people who have had some contact with Cthulhu, a skid faced monster, with the scaly body of a dragon, that lived before humans inhabited the earth.

This is one of those classic tales everyone should read. Everyone should know who Cthulhu, he's part of pop culture, his image is everywhere. I finally got around to reading this and loved it. Lovecraft is a powerful writer. I highly recommend The Call of Cthulhu. It's a must read.
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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 26 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.