Meizon is given the sole meaning of ‘greater’ in the respected Greek Lexicon of Liddell & Scott . Furthermore, in Bury’s translation of sections 20e -26a of Timaeus there are eleven instances of Plato using megas (great) meizon (greater) or megistos (greatest). In all cases great or greatest is employed except just one, 24e, which uses the comparative meizon, which Bury translated as ‘larger’! J.Warren Wells concluded that Bury’s translation in this single instance is inconsistent with his other treatments of the word and it does not fit comfortably with the context[787.85].
This inconsistency is difficult to accept, so although meizon can have a secondary meaning of ‘larger’ it is quite reasonable to assume that the primary meaning of ‘greater’ was intended. I note that the 1856 German translation of the well regarded Hieronymus Müller clearly accepted ‘meizon’ to refer to power rather than size.
It is also worth considering that Alexander the Great, (Aléxandros ho Mégas) was so called, not because of his physical size, apparently he was short of stature, but because he was a powerful leader.
The word has entered Atlantis debates in relation to its use in Timaeus 24e ’, where Plato describes Atlantis as ‘greater’ than Libya and Asia together and until recently has been most frequently interpreted to mean greater ‘in size’, an idea that I previously endorsed. However, some researchers have suggested that he intended to mean greater ‘in power’.
Other commentators do not seem to be fully aware that ‘Libya’ and ‘Asia’ had completely different meanings at the time of Plato. ‘Libya’ referred to part or all of North Africa, west of Egypt, while ‘Asia’ was sometimes applied to Lydia, a small kingdom in what is today Turkey. Incidentally, Plato’s statement also demonstrates that Atlantis could not have existed in either of these territories as ‘a part cannot be greater than the whole.’
A more radical, but less credible, interpretation of Plato’s use of ‘meizon’ came from the historian P.B.S. Andrews, who suggested that the quotation has been the result of a misreading of Solon’s notes. He maintained that the text should be read as ’midway between Libya and Asia’ since in the original Greek there is only a difference on one letter between the words for midway (meson) and larger than (meizon). This suggestion was supported by the classical scholar J.V. Luce and more recently on Marilyn Luongo’s website(a). This interpretation is quite interesting, particularly if the Lydian explanation of ‘Asia’ mentioned above is correct. Viewed from either Athens or Egypt we find that Crete is located ‘midway’ between Lydia and Libya.
In relation to all this , Felice Vinci has explained that ancient mariners measured territory by the length of its coastal perimeter, a method that was in use up to the time of Columbus. This would imply that the island of Atlantis was relatively modest in extent – I would speculate somewhere between the size of Cyprus and Sardinia. An area of such an extent has never been known to have been destroyed by an earthquake.
Until the 21st century, it was thought by many that meizon must have referred to the physical size of Atlantis rather than its military power. However, having read a paper[750.173] delivered by Thorwald C. Franke to the 2008 Atlantis Conference, I was persuaded otherwise. His explanation is that “for Egyptians the world of their ‘traditional’ enemies was divided in two: To the west there were the Libyans, to the east there were the Asians. If an Egyptian scribe wanted to say, that an enemy was more dangerous than the ‘usual’ enemies, which was the case with the Sea Peoples’ invasion, then he would have most probably said, that this enemy was “more powerful than Libya and Asia put together”.
This is a far more elegant and credible explanation than any reference to physical size, which forced researchers to seek lost continental sized land masses and apparently justified the negativity of sceptics. Furthermore, it reinforces the Egyptian origin of the Atlantis story, demolishing any claim that Plato concocted the whole tale. If it had been invented by Plato he would probably have compared Atlantis to enemy territories nearer to home, such as the Persians.
*(b) http://lost-origins.com/atlantis-no-lost-continent/ (offline Jan. 2018)*
Tyrrhenia was the Greek name for that part of modern Italy formerly occupied by the Etruscans, who were known as Tusci by the Romans, from which we get its current name, Tuscany. Plato twice described (Tim.25B & Crit.114C) Tyrrhenia together with Libya providing the northern and southern boundaries of the sphere of influence of the oAtlanteans. Anton Mifsud points out that the present Maltese Islands, were considerably more extensive in prehistoric times and being situated between these two locations adding considerable credence to his claim that the Maltese Islands are probably the remnants of Atlantis. Some ancient maps mark the sea to the west of the Strait of Messina between Sicily and Italy as the ‘Atlantic Ocean’. Furthermore, this strait has also had the title of ‘the Pillars of Heracles’.
One dissenting voice is that of R. McQuillen who is convinced(a) that the Platonic tale refers to another Tyrrhenia, in Turkey, while Taylor Hansen considered the Tyrrhenians to have moved east where they were known as Phoenicians[0572.34]. However, there are persistent claims that the Tyrrhenians did originate in Anatolia with Troy, Lemnos and Lydia being frequently mentioned. There are also counterclaims based on the conflicting account by classical authors(a). The matter remains unresolved.
The Tyrrhenians were also known to the Greeks as Tyrsenians and some have identified them with the Teresh, one of the Sea Peoples(c).
Paul Schliemann was the self-declared grandson of Heinrich Schliemann the discoverer of Troy. He was at the centre of an early Atlantis hoax in 1912 when he declared in a New York newspaper article that he had inherited, from his grandfather, artefacts made in Atlantis. He claimed to have ancient documents describing the destruction of Mu and insisted that the Azores were a remnant of Atlantis. Neither the artefacts nor Paul Schliemann ever materialised, in fact, an investigation revealed that Heinrich did not have a grandson named Paul.
Additionally, he claimed to have arrived at the solution of the Atlantis mystery after studying the Mayan Troano Codex in the British Museum. Unfortunately, the Troano Codex was housed in a museum in Madrid where it still resides. A further mistake by Paul was to claim that his grandfather referred to the Lion Gate at Mycenae on Crete, when in fact it was situated on mainland Greece. These errors were compounded by his reference to Atlantean coins which is completely anachronistic as coinage only came into use in Lydia around the time of Solon.
Heinrich Schliemann’s collaborator, William Dörpfeld, testified that although Schliemann had occasionally referred to Atlantis, he was unaware that he had made any serious study of the subject or had written anything about it.
Furthermore, Heinrich actively sought publicity and it would have been completely out of character for him not to have claimed the glory for himself of having discovered Atlantis.
In spite of all of this, the story was widely quoted and is still accepted as reliable by some writers. The full story is now available on the Internet(a).
I recently discovered an article(b) in The Mail of Adelaide in South Australia of February 28th 1925, which in turn was quoting an unnamed San Francisco source, purporting to be based on an interview with Paul Schliemann, ‘son’ of the late Heinrich promoting a forthcoming book on his search for Atlantis. Clearly this was an attempt to extend the 1912 hoax, but apparently was not spotted by The Mail, considering the amount of space that they allocated to the article as well as the accompanying images.
Also see: Chevalier Pino
Lydia was a small but powerful kingdom in what is now in the west of modern Turkey. It flourished in the 6th and 7th centuries BC. The inhabitants were famous as merchants and credited with having invented gold and silver coinage and the concept of permanent retail shops.
It must be pointed out that apart from his famous visit to Egypt, Solon travelled extensively throughout the eastern Mediterranean including Lydia where he encountered Croesus the fabulously wealthy monarch. It is possible that during these trips further information regarding the history of the region was gathered and included in his notes that were to pass down through Plato’s family. It must be mentioned that Peter James has placed Atlantis in the region of Lydia near ancient Smyrna now the modern port of Izmir.
Herodotus claimed that the Etruscans migrated from Lydia to Tyrrhenia, a claim that is supported by recent studies of DNA carried out at Pavia University in Italy. Dr. Barry Fell, the renowned expert in ancient scripts, translated Etruscan inscriptions using the language of the ancient Hittites who ruled Anatolia, including Lydia, in the 2nd millennium BC.
The Etruscans were an ancient people of Etruria (now Tuscany) in Italy. They occupied an area somewhere between Rome and Florence from the 8th century BC until incorporated in the Roman Empire in the 2nd century BC.*They do not appear to have been particularly expansionist as the only Etruscan settlement on Sardinia, which was not discovered until our 21st century, on the Tavolara isle off the coast near Olbia(o).*
It is thought that they originally came from Asia Minor before 800 BC, a suggestion that originated with Herodotus. This view has been given recent (2007) support by the results of DNA studies carried out at Pavia University. Another study of Etruscan mtDNA estimated “that the genetic links between Tuscany and Anatolia date back to at least 5,000 years ago, strongly suggesting that the Etruscan culture developed locally, and not as an immediate consequence of immigration from the Eastern Mediterranean shores.” (e).
Stefan Anitei supports an Anatolian, or more specifically a Lydian, origin for the Etruscans, citing a “ A recent DNA analysis showed that (the Bos Taurus) cattle in central Italy seem indeed to have originated in modern Turkey and Middle East. As there is no link between these cattle and others from other European regions, they must have entered the peninsula by sea.” (n).
Some decades ago Professor Licinio Glori also supported an eastern Mediterranean origin for the Etruscans(i). However, he has also claimed a common origin for the peoples of the Americas and Europe, including Etruscans, without identifying this shared ancestry(j).
It has also been suggested that the Etruscan culture has shown distinctive Indian influences.(l)
Until their written language can be translated there will remain an air of mystery about them. Even then because of the paucity of material available in their language, it is probable that little will be gleaned from it. Mark Cartwright’s excellent site has further information on the Etruscan script(k) and many articles on different aspects of Etruscan culture. A 2016 report(h) revealed the discovery of a stele which has at least 70 legible Etruscan letters and punctuation marks on it. Hopefully, this find will help to advance the translation of this language.
The site of the ancient city of Chiusi has been assumed by some to be the location of Clusium, the capital of the Etruscan king, Lars Porsena. This suggestion is based on the fact that the two names mean the same, namely ‘closed’. However, Giuseppe Centauro believes that he has found the real Clusium near Florence where he identified two concentric walls about 10 miles in circumference. The extensive walls have resonances with Plato’s description of Atlantis. If he is correct Clusium may at one time been the biggest city in Italy(f). Centauro is currently seeking permission to excavate there.
At Orvieto nearly 100km north of Rome, Professor Simonetta Stopponi is investigating the possible location of the Fanum Voltumnae, where the leaders of the Etruscan city-states met every year to discuss policy. This meeting has also got echoes of the regular meeting of the kings of the Atlantean federation.
It is worth highlighting that Tyrrhenia, the Greek name for Etruria, is one of the few places whose location is not disputed and is mentioned by Plato as bordering (Critias 114c & Timaeus 25b) Atlantean territory. It is therefore reasonable to expect that south of Etruria on mainland Italy that some remnants of Atlantis may yet be identified.
In his recent book Richard W. Welch is quite happy to designate the Etruscans as “the last Atlanteans of which we have much knowledge”. Frank Joseph echoed the same idea, writing that “the Etruscans were themselves nothing more than the late Atlanteans who colonised western Italy, so their surviving material culture offers us a glimpse of Atlantis at is cultural height.”[636.21]
In 1962, the French linguist, Maurice Guignard, claimed to have deciphered the Etruscan language and also suggested that the Etruscans might have come from Atlantis. Such comments conflict with Plato’s account, which clearly locates the territory of the Atlanteans separate from and further south than that of the Etruscans.
The internet offers a valuable site(a) giving a good overview of the Etruscans including a valuable bibliography and collection of related weblinks.
The controversial Italian researcher, Dr. Mario Gattoni Celli, writing in the 1960’s proposed that the Etruscans had voyaged to South America, basing his opinion on linguistic and other cultural similarities. This view is apparently supported by Diodorus Siculus (History, Book V, 19+) who refers to the ‘Tyrrhenians’ setting up a colony on an island, with navigable rivers, at a great distance from the inhabited world(c). Adding some confusion to this is the claim that Old World languages had migrated FROM the Americas!!(d)
The most exotic suggestion regarding the Etruscans comes from Xavier Séguin who has claimed that they share a common ancestry with the Yoruba of West Africa, having both originated in Atlantis(m) ! Séguin quotes the work of Leo Frobenius in support of this contention, highlighting the significance of the number sixteen in both cultures.
(c) Atlantis, Vol 19.1, Feb/Mar 1966
(i) St. Petersburg Times. Nov. 25 1957
The Size of Atlantis has been the subject of controversy for many years. Debate has centred on the comparative of the Greek adjective Meizon used in Timaeus 24e where it was generally translated as ‘larger’ suggesting that Atlantis was larger than Libya and Asia combined.
The meaning of ‘Asia’ at different times in the distant past quite clearly had a variety of connotations. Edward Gibbon, who wrote a monumental work on the Roman Empire, stated that when the ancient Greek and Latin writers referred to ’Asia’ they meant Turkey. Another historian, Michael Grant, is of the opinion that ‘Asia’ could have been applied to the ancient kingdom of Lydia, which only occupied a small region of Eastern Turkey. Similarly, ‘Libya’ was sometimes applied to a relatively small narrow strip of coastal land to the west of the Nile Delta and more often to the entire Mediterranean coast of Africa except Egypt.
Perhaps the most interesting contribution to this debate has been from Felice Vinci who recently wrote in his book, The Baltic Origins of Homer’s Epic Tales, that ancient seafarers measured territory by its coastal perimeter rather than by its area, as we do today. He refers to this coastal measurement method being still in use by Christopher Columbus. Acceptance of this contention would require a total review of the ‘Atlantis greater in size than Asia and Libya together’ controversy. In this regard is worth noting that Herodotus (Bk IV.45) refers to Europe being in length “equal to Asia and Libya combined” – eerily like Plato’s phrase, but endorsing Vinci’s contention. In a similar vein, Strabo (Bk Chap 4.1) recounts how Pytheas reported that the coast-line of Britain was more than forty thousand stadia (4,590 miles).
The application of Vinci’s coastal measurement to the combination of Asia and Libya could have suggested a relatively modest land area somewhere between that of Cyprus and Sardinia.
Irrespective of the size of Atlantis if it was greater in any sense, it cannot have been located in either Libya or Asia, because according to the old mathematical axiom ‘a part cannot be greater than the whole’.
However, many researchers felt the need to seek a larger landmass in view of Plato’s description of the plain of Atlantis having dimensions of 2,000 x 3,000 stades (230×345 miles) which combined with sheltering mountains to the north implies quite an extensive total area for the island and would be far greater than an earthquake could destroy.
A more radical explanation for Plato’s description comes from the historian P.B.S. Andrews, who has suggested that the quotation has been the result of a misreading of Solon’s notes. He maintains that the text should be read as ’midway between Libya and Asia’ since in the original Greek there is only a difference on one letter between the words for midway (meson) and larger than (meizon). This suggestion was supported by the classical scholar J.V. Luce. This interpretation is quite interesting, particularly if the Lydian explanation of ‘Asia’ mentioned above is correct. Viewed from either Athens or Egypt we find that Crete is located ‘midway’ between Lydia and Libya.
If we return to the Greek meizon and refer to the respected Greek Lexicon of Liddell & Scott we find meizon is given the sole meaning of ‘greater’. Furthermore, in Bury’s translation of sections 20e -26a of Timaeus there eleven instances of Plato using megas (great) meizon (greater) or megistos (greatest). In all cases great or greatest is employed except just one, 24e, which uses the comparative meizon, which Bury translated as ‘larger’! J.Warren Wells concluded that Bury’s translation in this single instance is inconsistent with his other treatments of the word and additionally does not fit comfortably with the context[0783.85].
This inconsistency is difficult to accept, so although meizon can have a secondary meaning of ‘larger’ it is quite reasonable to assume that the primary meaning of ‘greater’ was intended. I note that the 1856 German translation of Hieronymus Müller clearly accepted ‘meizon’ to refer to power rather than size.
However, in a paper[750.173] delivered by Thorwald C. Franke to the 2008 Atlantis Conference he persuasively argued that “for Egyptians the world of their ‘traditional’ enemies divided in two: To the west there were the Libyans, to the east there were the Asians. If an Egyptian scribe wanted to say, that an enemy was more dangerous than the ‘usual’ opponents, which was the case with the Sea Peoples’ invasion, then he would have most probably said, that this enemy was “more powerful than Libya and Asia together.”
I find this a far more elegant and credible explanation than any reference to physical size which forced researchers to seek lost continental sized land masses. Furthermore it reinforces the Egyptian origin of the Atlantis story, demolishing any claim that Plato concocted the whole tale. If it had been invented by Plato he would probably have compared Atlantis to enemy territories nearer to home, such as the Persians.
However, although this explanation may seem to remove the need to look for a very large landmass, it still leaves the unrealistic dimensions of 2,000 x 3,000 stades of the cultivated plain of Atlantis. However as I will explain elsewhere all of Plato’s numbers in excess of 1,000, with a single exception, should be treated as approximations and then divided by 10.