Re: Atlantis - The Lost Continent

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. (
15 Jul 1996 14:44:01 GMT

Paul Smith <> wrote:
> > Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. wrote:
> > >
> > > For those interested in Atlantis: please, Please, PLEASE reread Plato
> > > youself (Penguin Books has translation of the Timeaus and Criteaus
> > > (horrible misspellings, my copies are at home))!! There is a LOT of
> > > misinformation on the subject, perpetuated by Atlantologists, out there.

> Assuming that Plato wasn't telling a complete pack of lies (and remember that he was
> primarily concerned with telling a moral fable about the virtues of aristocracy rather
> than reporting fact), the *legend* of Atlantis was Egyptian. How did Egyptians get an
> idea about a lost sunken city?

Actually, I was hoping that people would bother to read Plato and find
out for themselves that he was telling, while not a complete pack of
lies, a tale made up entirely by him to prove his own points.

Right before the Timeaus, the question is asked "What would a society
run by these philosopher-kings be like?". The Timeaus takes it up
"Well, my grandpa Solon heard this story from his granpa Solon on
Children's Day (can't remember the original Greek, but that's how it
translates: in any case, a day traditionally associated with the telling
of tall tales) who heard it whilst in Egypt."

And, what do you know? It discusses live under philosopher-kings whose
societies match point for point exactly those suggested earlier in the
Dialogues. Hmmmm...

Also, the Atlantologists never seem to mention Proto-Athens, the main
combatant agains Atlantis in its decline, located on the exact same
spot that Hellenistic Athens occupied. Funny, maybe that's because we
know the archeology of Athens, and there ain't any such city there? Or
is it they never bothered to read Plato so they don't know what an important
part of the story (not myth, since it wasn't part of the religion; not
legend, since it doesn't deal with heroes or heroics) of Atlantis?

While many cultures have stories of global floods (the Mediterranean/
Mesopotamian almost always being caused by the Storm God upset with the
corruption, uncleanliness, or sometimes just the noise of humanity) and
vanished cities, there are no records from Egyptian or other Mediterranean
or Mesopotamian writings documenting the presence of a Eurasiatic superpower
9000 years before Plato's time (part of the story of Atlantis is that
it had conquered all powers in the known world save proto-Athens and
its holdings). Sure, some might yet be found, or physical evidence to
support it, but none have yet been found, although stone tools and pottery
from that interval are known in the region.

Why should just some aspects of the Atlantis story be true (according
to Atlantologists), but others (proto-Athens, timing, dominance of the
Mediterranean/Mesopotamian world) which are clearly indicated in the story
be inventions? Why is there no pre-Platonic record of Atlantis in even
Greek writing?

One distinct possibility is Plato made it up, as a rhetorical device to
discuss his points earlier in the Dialogue, with a clear indication (at
least to his contemporaries) that this is an invention at the story's
start. Of course, to some it is more appealing that scientists don't
know what they're talking about...

Take care, and hope you weren't bored.