Did Aelius Aristides Record Spanish Commerce with Atlantis in the Second Century?
As many of you likely saw, Georgeos Díaz-Montexano, formerly known as Cuban researcher Jorge Díaz Sanchez, replied to my review of his appearance on National Geographic Channel’s Atlantis Rising documentary. In his reply in the comments section of my blog post, he alleged that there were many reasons that I did not understand the full scope of his argument, mostly revolving around the idea that the documentary failed to capture the complexity and depth of his reasoning. He directed interested parties to his multivolume published works, in Spanish, and to the single-volume English summary he published as a tie-in to profit from his appearance on Nat Geo. Needless to say, he did not offer free access to his evidence, but rather expects us to pay him to hear it. Given the quality of his response, it would seem to be a waste of money.
That sounds mean, of course, but in his comments Díaz-Montexano managed to contradict himself shamelessly. He claimed, for one thing, that “I have never been a fanatical believer in Atlantis, nor do I claim that Atlantis—like described in Plato—has existed.” Nevertheless, his evidence is and remains drawn from the very texts--Timaeus and Critias—he claims not to believe. For example, “The bull is a main symbol and an attribute of the god Poseidon, and is the main animal to which the Atlanteans worshiped, as we see in Plato’s description of Critias about the historical legend of Atlantis.” Both things cannot be true. Plato’s Atlantis cannot be fictitious and also an accurate description of the past. He elides this by saying his efforts are literary rather than historical, and yet he goes in search of physical evidence nonetheless.
Díaz-Montexano directed me to an article on his website giving the chronology of the Atlantis he says never existed. This, too, is an exercise in bizarre special pleading and motivated reasoning. Let’s take a look at what he has to say.
The article starts out badly, with Díaz-Montexano claiming linguistic expertise by dint of his involvement with Barry Fell’s Epigraphic Society, by which he alleges that he can translate ancient inscriptions, which magically confirm parts of Plato’s story in ways that no one else has ever confirmed. In his comments on my blog, he alleged that he could read some markings as “Semitic” (which is not actually a language but a language family, one not tied to a specific script) and a description of a sinking island.
In the article proper, he asserts that Atlantis was destroyed between 2600 and 1550 BCE, a date range that does not conform to Plato’s estimate of 9600 BCE. Nevertheless, he also asserts that we know the cause of the destruction could not be volcanic because Plato does not mention volcanoes. His justification for this is that he reads the reference to nine thousand years in the Timaeus to state that the story of Atlantis starts in 9600 BCE, and therefore he can end it whenever he fancies. That’s all well and good, but it’s contradicted by the clear statement in the Critias that “nine thousand was the sum of years which had elapsed since the war which was said to have taken place between those who dwelt outside the Pillars of Heracles and all who dwelt within them” (trans. Benjamin Jowett). In other words, Plato makes plain that the end not the start of the story is fixed at 9,570 BCE. Despite this clear statement, Díaz-Montexano places this war between 2700 and 1550 BCE.
Next, he etymologizes the name of the king of Atlantis, Atlas, as “the one supporting, upraising, or upholding (the sky),” a claim that, while not indefensible, is far from certain. In the past, “Atlas” was thought to derive from a reconstructed Proto-Indo-European word meaning “to uphold,” but there is great dispute over this. Many linguists suspect the word is actually non-Greek in origin, perhaps related to the Berber word ádrār, meaning mountain, or to a pre-Greek word from before Indo-European contact. In short, we don’t know, and neither does Díaz-Montexano, certainly not with the degree of confidence needed to identify this Atlas—a human son of Poseidon—with the Titan of the same name and thus with the Egyptian god Shu, the god of cool air. In the interpretatio graeca, the Titan Atlas was identified with the Egyptian Shu, but the Atlas of Plato is not the Titan, so the correlation does not hold, even when Díaz-Montexano alleges that Solon (Plato’s alleged source) translated Egyptian names to their Greek equivalent in telling the story of Atlantis from Egyptian records.
Nevertheless, despite claiming the story to be a Greek translation of an Egyptian original, Díaz-Montexano proceeds to use Greek pseudo-historic chronology—itself a product of Classical and Hellenistic efforts to merge together contradictory folktales and myths—and antediluvian Biblical chronology from Genesis—another fantasy!—to fix the date of Atlantis:
The end of Atlantis can be established at some point within the time frame that goes, rounded, from 2.600 to 1.600 BC, for the simple reason that the catastrophic flood that destroys the primitive Athens is supposed to occur just before the Deucalion’s deluge (epi Deukalionos), after the Atlanteans had been defeated by the Athenians, which is dated around 1.530 BC, according to the most reliable Greek written sources. All the Classical sources agree that the cataclysm prior to Deucalion occurred in Ogygus or Ogyges times. Ogygian flood has been associated – since ancient times- to the biblical cataclysm known as “Noah’s flood” which has been dated by biblical exegetes, in round figures, at some point between 2.500 and 2.300 BC.
First, there are not Greek sources that record a war between Atlantis and Athens before Plato invented it. None place it in 1530 BCE. The flood of Ogyges has indeed been compared to that of Noah from time to time (though Deucalion’s more frequently is), but its date is not given as 2500 BCE. Sextus Julius Africanus, the first Christian chronographer to try his hand at the game, placed it in 1793 BCE but thought it different than the older flood of Noah, occurring instead during the Exodus. This alone is proof that we cannot automatically accept the flood of Ogyges as that of Noah on the authority of some imagined universal ancient association.
He alleges that part of Atlantis still existed as late as the second century CE on the authority of Aelius Aristides, who in his Orations (no. 36, “The Egyptian Discourse”) contradicts an older Greek account by the geographer Euthymenes of Masslia (c. 500 BCE) about a great freshwater river Ocean by referencing an island opposite to Spain which many traveled back and forth to. “And neither can the fishermen at Gadira nor those who cross over to the great island opposite Spain be heard to say that the outside sea is fresh-water” (trans. C. A. Behr). Aristides meant for his Greco-Roman audience to understand him; this is not some secret island. He is referring rather clearly to opposite side of Iberia from Gadira (Cadiz), which means the north. The great island must be the British Isles.
Aristides, for what it’s worth, hated Euthymenes and accused him of fabricating his whole account of rounding the horn of Africa and discovering the source of the Nile in the River Ocean.
The long and short of it is that Díaz-Montexano cherry-picks at will, just like every other Atlantis claimant.
1/31/2017 12:16:10 pm
"Georgeos Díaz-Montexano, formerly known as Cuban researcher Jorge Díaz Sanchez"
2/1/2017 01:55:43 pm
It's so when they are discovered to be frauds, the shame doesn't extend to their families.
1/31/2017 12:18:41 pm
At least he finally clarified his position. He really and truly doesn't believe in PLATO'S VERSION of Atlantis because metalworking and architecture.
1/31/2017 01:19:00 pm
Georgeos/Jorge writes in a manner that is easily transparent. It appears he believes using many multi-syllable words makes him sound more authoritative. I understand he may not believe the Atlantis of Plato, but since Plato is the original author of the tale, where is Jorge getting his information? From scribbles that he alone can translate?
1/31/2017 02:01:59 pm
Since Aristides regarded this "great island" as being in the North and Mr Diaz-Montexano infers this was Atlantis then obviously we British were the genuine Atlanteans.
1/31/2017 02:10:03 pm
I thought Brexit was going to solve all of your problems, just like Trump is going to solve all of ours.
2/1/2017 02:15:40 am
Will you take some refugees fleeing a fascist dictator carrot, instead? I promise you, we might cost a bit in the beginning but we'll make it up to you once we integrate into your society. You won't even know we're there. Unless you mention football.
1/31/2017 03:54:41 pm
He is denigrating Celt-Iberian culture. All those petroglyphs were made by Celt-Iberians not fake Atlanteans.
An Over-Educated Grunt
2/1/2017 08:40:58 am
Sad thing is I think even with a full post you used only about a third the words he did. Be fine if he'd actually said anything but...
2/2/2017 03:27:31 pm
The long and short of it is that Díaz-Montexano cherry-picks at will, just like every other Atlantis claimant.
I do not like this pressing into a quarrel with Jason. The core of my Atlantis thesis is still not published, by the way. So it is naturally not possible to "debunk" it at this moment. What can be put to a test are only the parts already published, serving as foundation of the coming core thesis.
2/2/2017 03:59:11 pm
I meant every claimant who says he or she has found Atlantis. Since no one has yet found a gigantic island with a ringed city and a bunch of elephants outside the Pillars of Hercules, claimants who say they have found Plato's Atlantis are cherry picking evidence. There is a separate category for those who wish to argue that Plato's story is not 100% true. But once you make that argument, you are no longer searching for the Atlantis of Plato but something else.
Jason, this is a simplistic view of things, and you know this. According to this scheme, Herodot would not talk about Egypt, because his description of Egypt (?) does not fit to the real Egypt. But he *does* talk about Egypt. It is crucial, why and how a story is distorted, in order to decide whether it still talks of a real thing, or not.
2/2/2017 05:40:15 pm
The question, though, is whether one has found the Atlantis *described by Plato* or merely something that one claims was his inspiration for the story. Jacobovici changed the details and claimed it was nevertheless true to Plato. Montexano claimed not to be looking for the Atlantis that Plato described, but then he turned around and tried to find evidence for a subset of the details anyway and claim it as the Atlantis of Plato.
2/3/2017 02:26:42 am
actually, i have found Atlantis and the story is 100% correct. i read it in ancient Greek (with difficulty of course) and it has nothing to do with the description you just gave Jason. nowhere does it say big island, nowhere does it say outside the pillars, and no where does it say 9k before Solon. i challenge you to find one fact/evidence that shows that Atlantis is not in Malta. i am talking about the megalithic temple builders in Malta of course. i am revealing the location of the city in a month or two.
Jason, you are right: Somebody who claims that he found Atlantis "exactly" as Plato described it, or something like this (and indeed: we hear this all the time), then this person has not understood anything of history, philosophy, Plato's intentions, or about possibilities and plausibilities of historical tradition. Yet, "inspiration" (although another valid possibility) could be too less, either.
2/3/2017 12:20:14 pm
Frank, is there any ancient description of an ancient place which fits to the place for 100%? There is always a bias, at least in most cases, if not all. So forget your cigar doctrine. What can be done is to show *why* a story was distorted, and that the author really *meant* this place, thus establishing a valid connection between the biased description and the real place.
2/4/2017 12:21:42 pm
2/5/2017 12:25:41 pm
My name is Thorwald, not Thornwald. And I am not cherrypicking.
2/5/2017 04:57:18 pm
So I gave you an extra n with a "keystroke." But perhaps, speaking of being your psychiatrist, it may have been inadvertently, but consciously, since you are acting as if I placed a thorn on your side.
Concerning the mud: ... as Plato saw it ... even Aristotle saw it. You even find it in Late Antiquity in Martianus Capella ...
2/6/2017 07:03:28 am
Thorwald, you use references as it fits your need; Aristotle and the mud for instance, as it relates to the pillars of Heracles (Gibraltar) being used by Plato to orient the reader towards Atlantis, and using that land/sea marker to tell us that Atlantis was to the west of the strait of Gibraltar (outside the Mediterranean). And yet, you maintain that Atlantis is the island of Sicily, smack in the middle of the Med. http://atlantipedia.ie/samples/franke-thorwald-c/
Frank, pointing to Sicily is based on an argument which you just omit in order to impute cherry-picking to me. And this, although I told you about the quality of the hint to Gibraltar in the Atlantis dialogues? By the way, my best arguments in favour of Sicily are still not published. Come on, what is the purpose of this all? And yes, the role of Plato in Sicily ... is the key to it all. Therefore, I payed for the translation of a forgotten Swedish text elaborating on this idea. Available in English: Gunnar Rudberg, Atlantis and Syracuse. Rudberg thinks of an invention. I do not. But his approach is marvellous. https://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlantis_syracuse.htm
2/5/2017 10:30:44 pm
2/6/2017 02:45:04 am
Actually, Oliver, you're wrong too: Plato is talking about the begining the development and the end of Atlantis.The beggining -very primitive people, no temples, propably stone age, then he talks about many generations (trying to outdo eachother) .This is the period between the beggining and the end of this civilization. Here they developed many things, writings sailing e.t.c then comes the moment of the war where they have reached their peak. They, now have 1,200 ships.
2/6/2017 08:02:29 am
John, you are Last only because you stayed longer to count the ships, so as to make it clear to Plato that he had distorted history with his biased views. Therefore, apparently, Plato did not see that mud clearly either, if his view was biased, as our subject matter expert tells us. Well John, are you sure that the Atlanteans had exactly 1,200 ships? Just plain ships and all of same type? Or, being an advanced civilization, had 100 destroyers, 500 frigates, 15 aircraft carriers, 25 battle ships, 215 resupply freighters, 100 PT boats, and 245 of all-around classical and historical triremes? But that was only for the Royal city of Atlas, and you missed counting all the military assets for the other nine brothers' kingdoms, which were also located on this "continent" island of Sicily, not larger than Libya and Asia combined, but "in-between" Libya and Asia, as the priest told Solon, and as Thorwald, cleverly, figured out for humanity. And which also contained that great and most fertile, huge plain of Catania. And where all those buffaloes roamed, and contained swamp creatures and large herds of "pygmy" Elephants, which also roamed around and jumped over all those Sicilian Atlanteans' canals, which were carefully, and precisely dug at intervals of 100 stadia.
2/6/2017 10:03:58 am
FRANK, you're an idiot.
Frank, no pygmy elephants in my idea of Atlantis, and no "in-between". But I see that you know well all the ideas others had created on this. You obviously have read a lot about it.
2/6/2017 03:37:59 pm
"Actually, Oliver, you're wrong too: Plato is talking about the begining the development and the end of Atlantis.The beggining -very primitive people, no temples, propably stone age, then he talks about many generations (trying to outdo eachother)."
2/6/2017 09:01:29 pm
2/6/2017 10:15:31 am
I don't believe you.
Real Frank this once and last time
2/6/2017 11:12:56 pm
True, Thorwald, I'm a victim too it seems, as anyone can easily hijack names around here as they can others' ideas. Besides, Jason has surrounded himself with lots of real well-to-do intellectual idiots and practical jokers. And apparently we are included in this elite group of intellectual giants, otherwise what are we doing here? I'm exiting, stage right. No more will I wash my dirty laundry in this public forum of unbelievers and criticizers. Note how there are no assertions here, only criticism of others' assertions. It's easy to criticize, only let anyone here come up with an idea of their own; that's just impossible. Caro Thorwald, Ci vediamo a cefalu`. Happy Atlantis seeking, and may the gods be with you! So long!
2/6/2017 11:58:34 pm
I assume IPs are logged (and Jason has access to them) when comments are posted here, so there's not much point in trying to post under someone else's name. However, I noticed Thorwald C. Franke has a history of this sort of thing, see here:
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