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Prof. Theodor Gomperz: Atlantis could be real

gomperz atlantis plato

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#1    Proclus

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 02:13 PM

Prof. Theodor Gomperz is one of the scientists who more than others saw the possibility of distorted traditions behind the Atlantis account. All in all he realized that Plato himself believed what he wrote and sees a composed story but he leaves open the question to which extent it could be based on real traditions, then of course distorted traditions.

Now available on the internet:
http://www.atlantis-...tis_gomperz.htm

It is very important to realize that Plato did not make up a simply invented story. It is more complicated. Gomperz: "Plato believed that he had discovered some of the essential features of his political ideal in the dim beginnings of his native city."

This is the crucial sentence: Plato did not simply make it all up. He himself believed major parts of it, if not all, and thus was in error if it is not true. And being in error is something totally different than deceiving.

And: "We should be glad to know how far Plato's fiction is based on popular legend; how far the belief in an extensive country in the West rests on the presupposition of a not wholly unsymmetrical distribution of land between the Eastern and Western hemispheres; how far the fact, now attested by documentary evidence, of an incursion into Libya and Egypt made by conquering "sea-nations" coming from the West. But on all these points we are left to uncertain conjecture."

So, it is our task to see whether we can bring more light into this question.

Edited by Proclus, 05 January 2013 - 02:15 PM.

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#2    docyabut2

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 02:33 PM

Plato


[Crit.] Then listen, Socrates, to a tale which, though strange, is certainly true, having been attested by Solon, who was the wisest of the seven sages. He was a relative and a dear friend of my great-grandfather, Dropides, as he himself says in many passages of his poems; and he told the story to Critias, my grandfather, who remembered and repeated it to us. There were of old, he said, great and marvellous actions of the Athenian city, which have passed into oblivion through lapse of time and the destruction of mankind, and one in particular, greater than all the rest. This we will now rehearse. It will be a fitting monument of our gratitude to you, and a hymn of praise true and worthy of the goddess, on this her day of festival.
[Soc.] Very good. And what is this ancient famous action of the Athenians, which Critias declared, on the authority of Solon, to be not a mere legend, but an actual fact?


#3    Proclus

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 04:33 PM

Interesting is:
The more science is presented in this forum,
the less the forum members are interested.
What Gomperz says is the absolute sensation,
but who has the understanding to see this?

Academic approaches towards Atlantis as a real place: www.Atlantis-Scout.de!

#4    Swede

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 06:40 PM

View PostProclus, on 05 January 2013 - 04:33 PM, said:

Interesting is:
The more science is presented in this forum,
the less the forum members are interested.
What Gomperz says is the absolute sensation,
but who has the understanding to see this?

1) Gomperz was a philosopher, not a scientist per se.

2) Gomperz died in 1912. Thus, referring to him or his writings in the present tense is misleading.

.


#5    Proclus

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 06:45 PM

View PostSwede, on 05 January 2013 - 06:40 PM, said:

1) Gomperz was a philosopher, not a scientist per se.
2) Gomperz died in 1912. Thus, referring to him or his writings in the present tense is misleading.
1) Gomperz was a renowned classical scholar, i.e. a scientist on the field of classical studies, translated immediately into English, read by many intellectuals of his time. And he was a philosopher, too.
2) The book was published in 1902, to be precise. Important is, that his thoughts have weight.

So, not misleading at all.
Or did you expect Atlantis research to have made big progress since 1902? *smile*

What is your opinion on Gomperz' thoughts?


.

Edited by Proclus, 05 January 2013 - 06:47 PM.

Academic approaches towards Atlantis as a real place: www.Atlantis-Scout.de!

#6    questionmark

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 06:47 PM

View PostProclus, on 05 January 2013 - 06:45 PM, said:

1) Gomperz was a renowned classical scholar, i.e. a scientist on the field of classical studies. And a philosopher, too.
2) The book was published in 1902, to be precise. Important is, that his thoughts have weight.

So, not misleading at all.
Or did you expect Atlantis research to have made big progress since 1902? *smile*

What is your opinion on Gomperz' thoughts?

No, it is still there where it was in Plato's time: in the realm of fantasy.

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#7    Swede

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 07:08 PM

View PostProclus, on 05 January 2013 - 06:45 PM, said:

1) Gomperz was a renowned classical scholar, i.e. a scientist on the field of classical studies, translated immediately into English, read by many intellectuals of his time. And he was a philosopher, too.
2) The book was published in 1902, to be precise. Important is, that his thoughts have weight.

So, not misleading at all.
Or did you expect Atlantis research to have made big progress since 1902? *smile*

What is your opinion on Gomperz' thoughts?


.

1) The term "classical scholar", in its conventional usage, refers to a student of Greek and Latin. This is to be distinguished from the more scientifically based study of linguistics.

2) Yes, your usage of the present tense could be, to those not familiar with the works/author, misleading.

3) The dating factor is of significance in respect to the archaeological, geological, genetic, and environmental research of the last century+. None of which support a factual basis for Plato's allegory.

4) Given that Plato's tale was allegorical, philosophical musings are simply that.

.


#8    Proclus

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 07:13 PM

View PostSwede, on 05 January 2013 - 07:08 PM, said:

1) The term "classical scholar", in its conventional usage, refers to a student of Greek and Latin. This is to be distinguished from the more scientifically based study of linguistics.

2) Yes, your usage of the present tense could be, to those not familiar with the works/author, misleading.

3) The dating factor is of significance in respect to the archaeological, geological, genetic, and environmental research of the last century+. None of which support a factual basis for Plato's allegory.

4) Given that Plato's tale was allegorical, philosophical musings are simply that.

.

Let's leave it to everybody to read the wikipedia article on Gomperz:
http://en.wikipedia....Theodor_Gomperz

Well ... you do a lot to shroud the important thing: That Plato himself believed that his account had a historical kernel. Gomperz concludes this from an analysis of Plato's work and the historical context of it. This is the crucial point. Not this "material science" stuff ("archaeological, geological, genetic, and environmental research").

This then is the root for the question: Which tradition was it, on which Plato based his story? This is the question you carefully avoid with your "material science" talk.

View Postquestionmark, on 05 January 2013 - 06:47 PM, said:

No, it is still there where it was in Plato's time: in the realm of fantasy.

Exactly this is not the case.
It's maybe the realm of error, but surely not the realm of pure fantasy.

_

Edited by Proclus, 05 January 2013 - 07:17 PM.

Academic approaches towards Atlantis as a real place: www.Atlantis-Scout.de!

#9    Swede

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 09:51 PM

View PostProclus, on 05 January 2013 - 07:13 PM, said:

Let's leave it to everybody to read the wikipedia article on Gomperz:
http://en.wikipedia....Theodor_Gomperz

Well ... you do a lot to shroud the important thing: That Plato himself believed that his account had a historical kernel. Gomperz concludes this from an analysis of Plato's work and the historical context of it. This is the crucial point. Not this "material science" stuff ("archaeological, geological, genetic, and environmental research").

This then is the root for the question: Which tradition was it, on which Plato based his story? This is the question you carefully avoid with your "material science" talk.



Exactly this is not the case.
It's maybe the realm of error, but surely not the realm of pure fantasy.

_

1) That over a century ago a given classicist concluded that Plato actually believed his allegory is not of particular relevance for a number of reasons:

a) Said conclusion is that of one individual writing during a period which witnessed the revival of the Atlantean myth and which did not have the benefit of more current research. The literal accuracy of the allegory has been debated since at least the time of Crantor (and his interpretations would appear to have been misinterpreted !).

b) More current research relating to the texts would not appear to support a literal interpretation. To quote Cameron:

The story of Atlantis, inspiration (on a recent estimate) of more than 20,000 books,
rests entirely on an elaborate Platonic myth (Timaeus 20d-26e, continued in Critias
108 d-121 c), allegedly based on a private, oral tradition deriving from Solon. Solon
himself is supposed to have heard the story in Egypt; a priest obligingly translated
it for him from hieroglyphic inscriptions in a temple in Sais. It might be added that
(unlike his modern readers) Plato is less concerned with Atlantis than with her rival
and conqueror, the Athens of that antediluvian age 9600 B.C. That Plato himself made
the whole story up (fashionable recent theories about Thera notwithstanding) is indeed
virtually demonstrable.
(Emphasis added).

Cameron, Alan
1983 Crantor and Posidonius on Atlantis. The Classical Quarterly, Vol. 33, No. 1, p. 1

c) Even had Plato believed in the tale, this does little to substantiate the actual presence of the culture as depicted by Plato.

2) Which brings us to the "material sciences". It is through these many and varied studies that we have a more accurate and comprehensive insight into the potential for the veracity of Plato's mythical culture. To date, neither this allegorical culture, nor its location, have received credible documentation.

.


#10    TheSearcher

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 11:03 PM

Just for the record, the definition of classical scholar is indeed : a student of ancient Greek and Latin. Nothing more and nothing else, it's even still correct today.  Gomperz himself was a philosopher and Classic scholar indeed, but you'll note that most of his works are about philosophy. After all he was professor of classical philology at Vienna from 1873 to 1901.

Now, I did notice that Gomperz also refers to what Plato writes, and I quote from the same text, "over-bold fiction".

Quote

He goes on to recount the great deeds of those Athenian forefathers, more particularly their wonderful victory, gained nine thousand years ago, over the inhabitants of Atlantis, an island in the Western sea which had afterwards sunk beneath the surface. The narrative is begun in the "Timasus," and continued in the "Critias," but not concluded. What, we are inclined to ask, was Plato's purpose in this over-bold fiction?

Not words used to describe something you believe founded in reality, in my opinion. He actually keeps referring to it as fiction the entire time.
Gomperz doesn't rule it out, you're correct there, but he does tell us a little about how Plato saw research.

Quote

It was not till late in life that the philosopher approached the investigation of nature; this part of his system was therefore subjoined by way of appendix to the "Republic," a work already complete in itself, in which all the other divisions of his philosophy were contained. Even then the study of nature was for him, as he tells us expressly, a labour of secondary importance, a kind of pastime. The limitations of Plato's endowment are here plainly discernible, and it is still more evident that by his disdain of the most effective means of pursuing these inquiries, he has closed against himself the paths which might have led to valuable results.

Since besides Plato, there are no other recounts of Atlantis or anything remotely like it, this is however a very moot point.

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#11    Proclus

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 09:35 AM

View PostSwede, on 05 January 2013 - 09:51 PM, said:

1) .....a) Said conclusion is that of one individual writing during a period which witnessed the revival of the Atlantean myth and which did not have the benefit of more current research.

Cameron, Alan 1983 Crantor and Posidonius on Atlantis. The Classical Quarterly, Vol. 33, No. 1, p. 1

View PostTheSearcher, on 05 January 2013 - 11:03 PM, said:

Just for the record, the definition of classical scholar is indeed : a student of ancient Greek and Latin. Nothing more and nothing else, it's even still correct today. Gomperz himself was a philosopher and Classic scholar indeed, but you'll note that most of his works are about philosophy.

Again, my purpose was not to show that Atlantis existed, but to show that the question cannot be answered that easily. Doubts are allowed. As you can see yourself, Gomperz is not certain and not very consequent in using the words "fiction" vs. distorted tradition. To be precise, his text is self-contradictory to a certain extent.

I really amuse myself that the great Gomperz is humbled by Atlantis skeptics to be a "student" only. That's a good joke! By the way: Gomperz as a philosopher interpretes Plato who was ...what? ... a philosopher!

I really amuse myself that the great Gomperz is put in line with the arise of Atlantis search in his time, like Ignatius Donnelly. Come on, my dear Atlantis skeptics, you can do well without such nonsense arguments!

I really amuse myself that Cameron's paper, which shows some serious mistakes, still is cited by Atlantis skeptics. His mistakes which a student (this time really a student) of Ancient Greek language could immediately see, are debunked in: Heinz-Günther Nesselrath, Atlantis auf ägyptischen Stelen? Der Philosoph Krantor als Epigraphiker, in: Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik ZPE No. 135/2001, pp. 33–35. German only. And in: Franke, Aristotle and Atlantis, 2012. English.

To calm your nerves down I add: Nesselrath is an Atlantis skeptic, too. Cheer up!

Last thing: Is Gomperz alone? This is what Atlantis skeptics want to tell us. But what about Wilhelm Christ? Wilhelm Brandenstein? Massimo Pallottino? Spyridon Marinatos? John V. Luce? Eberhard Zangger? and all the others? Are they all "alone", each of them on his own, whereas the Atlantis skeptics unite to a monolithic block? Again, I amuse myself. Things are not that easy.

And this is the only thing I want to show: Things are not that easy.
In the end, Atlantis can be a fiction, why not? But no premature conclusions, please!

_

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#12    Dontlisten2me

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 10:06 AM

One thing I have noticed are maps created in the past and "ancient times" that have islands all around the Atlantic where no islands are to be found. It's not only the Atlantic, but around the entire World here. The idea of Atlantis had both its positives and negatives. Atlantis also had its share of moot ideas. The reason of why Greece holds the knowledge is a different and unique idea.


#13    Swede

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 10:44 PM

View PostProclus, on 06 January 2013 - 09:35 AM, said:

Last thing: Is Gomperz alone? This is what Atlantis skeptics want to tell us. But what about Wilhelm Christ? Wilhelm Brandenstein? Massimo Pallottino? Spyridon Marinatos? John V. Luce? Eberhard Zangger?

_

As you admit, Gomperz (who, again, was not a scientist) is uncertain and contradictory in his assessment. As to your other authors/researchers:

Three of them are, again, classicists. One of these is notably dated, with the next having been dead for over 45 years. Therefore, let us look at the most recent of these three (Luce d. 2011). In reviewing the book Atlantis: Fact or Fiction and Luce's contribution to such, reviewer Sinclair Hood observed the following:

While Luce and Frost have argued in a serious and reasonable manner for an Aegean
reality behind the story of Atlantis, the weight of Classical scholarship has always
favoured the view that Plato invented it, and that is the verdict here,
in papers by the
editor, Edwin S. Ramage, and by J. Rufus Fears and S. Casey Fredericks
(Emphasis added).

Atlantis: Fact or Fiction?  Edited by Edwin S. Ramage
Review by: Sinclair Hood The Classical Review, New Series, Vol. 30, No. 1 (1980), pp. 161-162 Published by: Cambridge University Press.

In respect to Marinatos and Pallatino, these archaeologists were both respected and Marinatos' (d. 1974) early work at Akrotiri is well regarded. At this juncture perhaps the comment of one of the contributors to Atlantis: Fact or Fiction  should be cited:

The geologist, Dorothy Vitaliano, one of the two scientists who writes here, and one
who has played a leading part in unraveling the scientific facts about the Thera eruption,
has probably said all that can be said: 'The very best we can do is to grant that Plato might
have derived some of his ideas from Minoan Crete in one way or another, but such a
derivation is far too roundabout for Atlantis to qualify as a legend which presents a
distorted view of an actual event.'
(Emphasis added).

Atlantis: Fact or Fiction?  Edited by Edwin S. Ramage
Review by: Sinclair Hood The Classical Review, New Series, Vol. 30, No. 1 (1980), pp. 161-162 Published by: Cambridge University Press.

As to Zangger's Troy/Atlantis hypothesis: This hypothesis was highly controversial and eventually rejected. Zangger no longer works in the archaeological field.

Yes, the intent of your contributions is understood. However, in light of the spectrum of current research, there would presently appear to be no credible support for the actual existence of a culture/landform/timeline as depicted by Plato.

.


#14    TheSearcher

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 11:03 PM

View PostProclus, on 06 January 2013 - 09:35 AM, said:

....snip

And this is the only thing I want to show: Things are not that easy.
In the end, Atlantis can be a fiction, why not? But no premature conclusions, please!

_

Point made. However next time maybe phrase it differently, I think your initial post might have induced a few people in error. Just saying. Oh, and he is called a "student", because that is the textbook definition of "classical scholar".

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#15    Harte

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 03:24 AM

View PostProclus, on 05 January 2013 - 04:33 PM, said:

Interesting is:
The more science is presented in this forum,
the less the forum members are interested.
What Gomperz says is the absolute sensation,
but who has the understanding to see this?
First, Gomperz died long before anyone even knew how old Athens is.

Second, I read your linked text and found nothing but Gomperz (a Classicist, BTW, and not a scientist) repeatedly stating that The Critias is fiction.

I figured you were still on about possible influences in Plato's life that caused him to describe certain things in his allegory in certain ways.

I understand that you are interested in this, but I am not.  I was always interested in the possible existence of Atlantis - not where Plato picked up the nuances he used in his account.

If you ask me, Plato's description of Atlantis stems from his knowledge (and possibly his witnessing) of what happened to Helike, along with some references to things in other places, like Thera.  Plato didn't know about the Thera eruption from personal experience, but it's possible that he visited there and saw the red and black stone that he described in Critias as being a hallmark of Atlantean architecture.  It's also possible that there were still people around that had heard some story about what had happened at Thera 1300 years before Plato lived.

The red and black (and white) combination of stones can be found elsewhere around the Aegean (and the rest of the Mediterreanean) as well.

Harte

Edited to add:

Your quote:

View PostProclus, on 05 January 2013 - 02:13 PM, said:

It is very important to realize that Plato did not make up a simply invented story. It is more complicated. Gomperz: "Plato believed that he had discovered some of the essential features of his political ideal in the dim beginnings of his native city."
appears to come from a portion of Gomperz essay where he's addressing "The Republic," and not the Atlantis of Timaeus

H..

Edited by Harte, 07 January 2013 - 03:36 AM.

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