Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre
Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre (1749-1822) was a French astronomer and mathematician and in his 1819 book, Histoire de l’astronomie du moyen age, he misinterpreted a passage in Isaac Casaubon’s commentary on Strabo, which contributed to two centuries of misunderstanding Aristotle’s attitude to Plato’s Atlantis.
In 2012 Thorwald C. Franke published an English translation of his Aristoteles und Atlantis in which he provides convincing evidence that Aristotle had accepted the reality of Atlantis and hopefully in doing so has to some extent. redressed the damage done by Delambre’s error.
Aristotle (c.384-322 BC) was born at Stagira, a Grecian colony in Macedonia and died in Chalcis. He became Plato’s pupil at the age of seventeen and developed to become one of the trinity of the greatest Greek philosophers, along with Socrates and Plato. In turn, Aristotle was the tutor of Alexander the Great. However, Aristotle was something of a ‘know-all’, had his own blind spots. Katherine Folliot mentioned that Aristotle ‘held all non-Greeks in utter contempt’ clouding his judgement regarding any story originating in Egypt. John Michael Greer[335.16] points out that Aristotle consistently disagreed with his teacher, Plato. Aristotle’s geographical knowledge is highly suspect, claiming as he did that both the Danube and the Guadalquivir rose in the Pyrenees. However, it was Aristotle, revered by the Church, who maintained that the universe was earth-centred, a view that led to the persecution of Galileo and the burning of Giordano Bruno for their ‘heretical’ cosmological views.
According to Diogenes Laertius, Aristotle disagreed with his teacher on philosophical matters while Plato was still alive, causing Plato to remark, “Aristotle has kicked me, as foals do their mothers when they are born.” While there is evidence that Aristotle never lost his high personal regard for Plato, the fact remains, that in his later writings he never mentions Plato except to refute his doctrines, maintaining that the Platonic method is fatal to science.
Thorwald C. Franke refers specifically to Aristotle’s silence on the subject of Atlantis in his Aristotle and Atlantis[0706.30] in the following manner, “After all, if Aristotle were against the existence of Atlantis, one might have expected him to document his disagreement with Plato in some way and dispute the matter at hand. (Ingemar) Düring expresses what every person familiar with ancient literature knows well: ‘in accordance with the prevailing practice of that time, one mentioned the author of an opinion only if one did not agree … when it came to prevailing views with which he agreed, he [Aristotle] never mentioned the author.’
Thus the original argument is turned on its head: Aristotle’s very silence meant – if anything – more that he was for the existence of Atlantis than against it.”
My interest in Aristotle stems from the fact that he is constantly presented as the only classical writer to argue with the existence of Atlantis. A typical example are the comments of David Hatcher Childress who describes[620 .141]Aristotle as sceptical on many matters and that as well as doubting the reality of Atlantis he also appears to have questioned the veracity of Homer’s Trojan War when Strabo quotes Aristotle as saying that the Greek wall of Troy may never have been built but “invented and then demolished by the poet” (Geography XIII.i.36:).
However, Thorwald C. Franke‘s book, now published in English, persuasively disputes this commonly held view that Aristotle did not accept the existence of Atlantis. He points out that the alleged critical comment did not come directly from the writings of Aristotle but from a quotation attributed to Aristotle by Strabo (Geog. II 102). Franke has traced the use of this text as a dismissal of the existence of Atlantis by Aristotle back to 1816, when the French astronomer and mathematician Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre (1749-1822) misinterpreted the commentary on Strabo’s Geographica by Isaac Casaubon in 1587.
Franke has recently augmented his book with a YouTube video, in English(d) and German(e).
Franke points out that a study of more than twenty passages from Aristotle’s writings relating to Atlantis reveals that he was inclined to accept the Atlantis story as true since he accepted many of its details without expressing any doubt about the core of it.
*Jean Baptiste d’Anville (1697-1782) was a highly regarded geographer and cartographer, and also an Atlantis sceptic. However, as Franke has pointed d’Anville accepted that Aristotle believed in the existence of Atlantis[880.83].*
In May 2016, there was held at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, in ancient Stagira and in ancient Mieza, an international conference ‘Aristotle 2400 Years’ at which it was claimed(a) that Aristotle’s long lost tomb had been discovered at Stagira, his birthplace. Understandably, this generated an immediate critical response(b).
Aristotle like others of his era are still highly regarded as philosophers, but unfortunately it took over a millennium before Ibn al-Haytham developed the concept of experimental data and reproducibility of its results. On the other hand, Aristotle, is not an ideal mentor regarding many subjects outside philosophy.
He was happy to justify slavery, as was Athenian society in general.
Aristotle was also a biologist whose work amazed Darwin when William Ogle sent him a copy of The Parts of Animals which he had translated. Now in The Lagoon, a modern biologist, Armand Marie Leroi, reveals more of Aristotle’s wide-ranging scientific investigations and his conclusions, not all of which were correct(c) .
(d) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inWb6IVNWFQ (English)
(e) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDG7a09xkZE (German)
Thorwald C. Franke was born in 1971 in Konstanz in southwest Germany. He studied computer science at the University of Karlsruhe and now works as a software developer. Since 1999 he has been promoting the idea of Atlantis having been located in Sicily. He has written a paper, which makes the case for identifying Atlas with king Italos of the Sicels, who were one of the first tribes to inhabit Sicily, and gave their name to the island.
In October 2010 Franke announced that a part of his theory has weaknesses in it that require further research(f).
He is of the opinion that the war with the Atlanteans was recorded by the Egyptians as the conflict with the Sea Peoples of whom the Sicilians are generally accepted to have been part.
Franke has a well presented website(a), in English and German, where he cogently outlines his views. He has also written a lengthy, 23-page paper on the need for a classification of Atlantis theories . Even though this item is in German, English readers may find it quite interesting using their browser’s translator. Franke has also compiled an extensive list of Atlantis related websites(d) that he expanded further in a new format in October 2011.
His paper for the 2nd Atlantis Conference in Athens in 2008 is available on the Internet(c) in which he expanded on his Sicilian location for Atlantis.
Franke has also published a book, in German that focussed on Herodotus’ contribution to the Atlantis question(p).*In the same paper, he dealt with the true meaning of the phrase in Timaeus 24e which tells us that Atlantis was ‘greater’ (meizon) than Asia and Libya combined, which he clarified as actually referring to their combined power rather than size. However, Franke proposed that the Egyptian word ‘wr’, whose primary meaning is ‘big’ and is sometimes used in a metaphorical sense, may have influenced the wording of the Greek text
He builds his case on an 1816 misinterpretation by a French mathematician, Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre, of a 1587 commentary on Strabo’s Geographica by Isaac Casaubon. Combined with other evidence he has presented a case which removes the only prominent classical writer alleged to have apparently dismissed the existence of Atlantis. In late 2012 Franke published an English translation with the title of Aristotle and Atlantis. Franke’s views regarding Aristotle have been well received and his book frequently cited, most recently by Dhani Irwanto in his Atlantis:The Lost City is in the Java Sea[1093.110].
Franke has now augmented his book on Aristotle with a YouTube video in English(l) and German(m).
2012 also saw the publication, by Franke, of the first English translation of Gunnar Rudberg’s 1917 monograph Atlantis och Syrakusai, now Atlantis and Syracuse. This is a welcome addition to Atlantis literature in English. Students of the Atlantis mystery owe a debt of gratitude to Herr Franke.
In 2006, Franke published a paper outlining Wilhelm Brandenstein’s contribution to Atlantology which in 2013 he published in English(g). This was followed by a translation(h) of his overview of the work of Massimo Pallattino, who had adopted some of Brandenstein’s approach to the Atlantis question.
On the 30st of May 2013 Franke announced(i) that his Atlantis Newsletter, which until now was only available in German, in future will also be published in English. Today he discusses the antics of extremist Atlantis sceptics and the abuse of Wikipedia. I encourage everyone to register and congratulate Thorwald on this development.
There is also a video clip available of Franke showing his library of Atlantis related books(e). 2017 has seen Franke produce a number of 30-minute videos, which readers will find informative. They are available in both German and English, (Just Google Plato’s Atlantis – Thorwald C. Franke – YouTube).
Franke has now (July 2013) revamped his website (http://www.atlantis-scout.de/)
More recently, July 2016 saw the publication, in German, of Kritische Geschichte der Meinungen und Hypothesen zu Platons Atlantis (Critical history of the hypotheses on Plato’s Atlantis). This tome of nearly 600 pages will undoubtedly be a valuable addition to any serious researcher’s library. There is a promotional video, in German, to go with it(j). Hopefully, an English translation of the book will follow.
In June 2018, Franke published a YouTube video in English(r) and German(s) highlighting the manner in which Plato’s 9,000 years have been alternatively accepted and then rejected many times over since the time of Plato. Franke proposes that the 9,000 years recorded by Plato was comparable with the accepted age of Egypt in his day, at 11,00 years. However, archaeology has demonstrated that Egypt was only 3,000 years old or less when Plato was alive, suggesting that the 9,000 should be reduced by a comparable amount to arrive at the real time of Atlantis.
In his Newsletter No.90, Franke has highlighted that a small German right-wing group, ‘Pro Deutschland’, has cited on their website the ‘superior civilisation’ of Atlantis in support of their extremist views.
Franke’s Newsletter No. 103 has now provided us with five parallel versions of the Atlantis texts(n), Two English; Jowett & Bury and Two German; Susemihl & Müller as well as a Greek text from the Scottish classicist John Burnet (1863 – 1928).
Franke’s Newsletter No.104 offers an overview of the difficulties involved in accepting Plato’s writings too literally(o). He gives particular attention to the 9,000 years claimed to have elapsed between the Atlanean War and Solon’s visit to Egypt.
*Franke has now published two new videos(t), in both German and English, in which he reviews a number of Atlantis related books, both supportive and sceptical. He does so in his usual balanced manner and also exhorts students of Atlantology to learn German in order to have access to important works only available in that language.*
(l) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inWb6IVNWFQ (English)
(m) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDG7a09xkZE (German)