Re: Atlantis - The Lost Continent

Paul Smith (
Wed, 17 Jul 1996 14:15:46 GMT

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. wrote:
> 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.

Couldn't agree more. Infact there's no archaeological evidence /at all/
for civilisation at that early date anywhere in the world and not just in
the Mediterranian. Stone makes the specific suggestion that Plato made up
(or adapted) the Atlantis story to counter the Athenian foundation myth
(the one about Theseus), which, according to Stone, promoted the virtues
of democracy and this, as you know, wasn't Plato's favourite system of
government. My point was that even if the story predated Plato (no
surviving evidence for this) you wouldn't need to assume that an actual
maritime superpower in the region was inspiration for it. Storytellers
don't need such ready-made sources.


Paul Smith.
Paul Smith & Bea Hemmen, De Gildekamp 21-47, 6545KE,
Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Tel: 024-3782438, E-mail:
"God save us from our naughtiness" 16th C. English Prayer