An A-Z Guide To The Search For Plato's Atlantis

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Aristotle and Atlantis

Aristotle and Atlantis [880] is an English translation of Thorwald C. Franke’s book, Aristoteles und Atlantis, first published in German in 2010. From the beginning the author makes it clear that this monograph is not concerned with debating the existence of Atlantis but is focused on how Aristotle viewed Plato’s Atlantis.

When I began my own research the prevailing understanding was that Aristotle had rejected the story of Atlantis as an invention. Franke’s study has turned this idea completely on its head, clearly demonstrating that there is implicit evidence that Aristotle was “rather inclined towards the existence of Atlantis”. However, he goes further and forensically demolishes the idea that the two passages in Strabo’s Geographica (2.3.6.& 13.1.36) were quotations from Aristotle and even if they had been, that they were references to Homer not Plato.

Perhaps even more important is Franke’s revelation of how the prevailing attitude regarding Aristotle’s opinion of the Atlantis story arose. He has carried out extensive research that brought him back to 1587 when a commentary on Strabo by Isaac Casaubon was published, which in turn was badly misinterpreted in 1816 by Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre who attributed a critical comment by Aristotle regarding Homer’s Achaean wall in the Illiad to be instead a reference to Plato’s Atlantis. This had far-reaching consequences as Delambre’s book was probably more generally available than Casaubon’s, resulting in Delambre’s error being widely disseminated and so in time his misinterpretation gained sufficient critical mass to become ‘received wisdom’.

If the work of one person, Delambre, initiated nearly two centuries of misinformation, I hope that another individual, Thorwald C. Franke, can now begin to redress that situation.

This book is a ‘must read’ for anyone interested in a serious study of the Atlantis question.