I accept your challenge, and will be defending the position that Atlantis existed.
Atlantis: the city described by Plato in the Timaeus and the Critias
I'm probably the only one on this site crazy enough to believe in Atlantis, so I'm looking forward to this debate. I assume we will start arguments in Round 2.
Contention 1. The size and geographic location of Atlantis
Plato describes Atlantis as being larger than Libya and Asia combined. He also describes Atlantis as being in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Many people may be saying, "so what? I mean isn't the Atlantic Ocean large enough to fit both?" The answer to that question is no. In Plato's time, Libya was basically the Northern coast of Africa stretching from Morocco to current day Libya. Asia was about the size of North America. You add these two landmasses together, and some, Atlantis will not fit into the Atlantic Ocean. Period. It is just to large. (1)
Let's say you take some other translations, that the Island was, in fact, the size of the Spanish peninsula. Now you have to imagine that one day, it would be possible for the Iberian peninsula to sink below the waves. Geographically this is illogical to think. (1) Occam's Razor holds the simplest answer is, most often, the correct one. In this case, the simplest answer is that Atlantis never existed, until proven otherwise.
Contention 2. Plato was making a philosophical point
The story of Atlantis is well known. A technologically advanced society collapsed because of divine retribution (I won't argue the existence of Poseidon because that is kind of unfair). Perhaps, the entire point of the story was to make a point about what would happen to Athens. Once again, this is a much more logical explanation then a massive landmass, which has not been found, existing in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Contention 3. The destruction date is illogical
Plato wrote that Atlantis was destroyed in 9600 BCE. Modern science and history has shown that human civilization has only existed since 5000 BCE. If we were to hold that Atlantis existed, our entire conception of history has to be rewritten. The earliest city found dates to 8000 BCE and it is much more primitive than what Plato writes about. Plato talks about domesticated cattle, the earliest evidence of domesticated cattle is from 6000 BCE. Plato speaks of advanced architecture, the earliest evidence of more sophisticated buildings is 5000 BCE. It is more logical to think either 1) Atlantis did not exist and/or 2) Atlantis served to make a philosophical point.
I would first like to thank my opponent for challenging me to this debate. In my response, introduce an argument for the existence of Atlantis and then afterwards either refute my opponent’s claims or show how my argument explains the contention. Now, onto the argument.
Ever since Plato described Atlantis in his famous dialogues, there have been hundreds of theories and searches for the Lost City, encompassing even strange ideas such as the Bermuda Triangle.1 However, in recent years, new theories have been formed, and I will be arguing the most convincing one, that in reality, the story of Atlantis was really the story of the Minoan civilization, with a few recognizable errors that can be understood through the troubles of historiography. My argument will be in the form of the following syllogism:
In the following sections, I will argue each of my premises and then justify the conclusion, and also show how the inconsistencies are really just errors in historiography.
The Minoan civilization existed.
This first premise will be the easiest to accept by even the most skeptical of readers. The Minoan civilization is widely documented.2 The Minoans appeared on Crete around 2000 BC and developed a stable civilization with a culture, religion, and wealth, culminating in the construction of large palaces.3 One of the most interesting things about the civilization is that they were a seafaring people; they constructed a navy and traded with civilizations around the Mediterranean.4 However, study of this Bronze Age culture is hindered by the fact that we cannot read their early language, Linear A;5 the Minoans kept hundreds of documents such as inventories, but they may never be deciphered.
Many theories exist on how these ancient Cretans were destroyed, including the link between the disappearance of the Minoans and the eruption of a volcano on the nearby Thera, an eruption that not only would have devastated the neighboring Crete but would “likely have generated an even larger tsunami and pyroclastic flows that traveled much farther over the surface of the sea.”6 Now that you may already see the parallels between the Minoans and Atlantis, I will move on to the next premise.
Atlantis was the Minoan civilization.
Let us first begin with Plato’s account of the Atlanteans. Atlantis was “a naval power located at the Pillars of Hercules (today's Strait of Gibraltar) that had successfully conquered large swaths of Western Europe. After its defeat, Atlantis then sunk into the sea, never to be seen or heard from again.”7
Although it may seem as if I am stretching the truth here, you must see the striking resemblance in Atlantis to the Minoans of Crete. Both Atlantis according to Plato and the Minoans had a prominent navy, useful for trading or conquering, were both located in the Mediterranean or the area around (this is where the historiographical errors may be present), and both were destroyed by a cataclysmic natural event, a tsunami, or in the case of the Minoans, a volcano and subsequent tsunami.
Again, I am not arguing that Atlantis was a separate civilization, I am merely saying that the story of the Minoans on Crete, who the Greeks were well aware of,8 was recounted by Plato as the story of Atlantis. While it may be difficult to wrap your mind around an entire continent sinking into the Ocean, still undiscovered despite advances in underwater exploration, it isn’t that much of a stretch to say that the story was really just a retelling of the Minoan story, a civilization already well-documented.
Therefore, Atlantis existed.
As I have said before, I am not arguing that Atlantis was a separate continent in the Atlantic, or even underwater. When Plato says Atlantis was “afterward sunk by an earthquake,”9 he was referring to the volcano-caused tsunamis that destroyed Thera and Crete. When Plato says Atlantis “conveyed the fruits of the earth in ships,”9 he was referring to the vast Minoan fleet that traded with the Mediterranean.
I will now explain the many references to errors in historiography that I have mentioned. Plato mentions several attributes that are inconsistent with the Minoans. For example, Plato states that Atlantis had an “extent greater than that of Libya and Asia”9 and was located in the “Pillars of Heracles.”9 While my opponent may use these contradictions against me, please note that Plato describes Atlantis based on “what was said by the priests, and brought hither by Solon,”9 so the story was passed down several times before being discussed by Plato in his historic dialogue. As we all know, errors will almost certainly arise as stories are passed along generations; only the most prominent features of the story (such as the rise, trade, and destruction of Atlantis) remained truthful. But in the end, however, I will argue that Atlantis was based in fact and not fiction, and this fact was the story of the great Minoan civilization.
Rebuttal 1: Size and location
My opponent states in his argument, “Atlantis will not fit into the Atlantic Ocean,” because of the size Plato describes and the measured size of the Atlantic Ocean. If we take Plato’s size, sure, my opponent’s argument stands. However, since Plato was actually describing the Minoan civilization, the size of the landmass Plato describes can be taken as a historical mistake in the discussion of the dialogues.
We already know that Greek historians such as Herodotus exaggerated facts and was blatantly incorrect at times.10 It is safe to say Plato exaggerated the size of Atlantis (as well as many other historical factors) in his narration.
Rebuttal 2: Philosophical point
My opponent argues, “Perhaps, the entire point of the story was to make a point about what would happen to Athens.” While this may seem like a valid point, translations of the Critias and Timaeus make it clear that Plato was speaking as if relaying actual historical information. He says before introducing the story of Atlantis, “[…]for all the important part of what I have to tell is dependent on her favor, and if I can recollect and recite enough of what was said by the priests, and brought hither by Solon, I doubt not that I shall satisfy the requirements of this theatre.”9 Plato’s tone does not resemble that of a parable or allegory, but rather that of genuine communication of historical fact.
Rebuttal 3: Destruction date
Again, Plato may have very well gotten his history incorrect when speaking of the great Minoans. Refer to the size discrepancy and blatant historical exaggeration above.
By definition, the Atlantis my opponent and I are talking about is the one SPECIFICALLY described by Plato in the Timaeus and the Critias. This means any discussion of Atlantis is limited specifically to whether or not the Atlantis Plato envisioned existed. This means it is presupposed that any geographic and historical events envisoned by Plato are correct otherwise, it would not be Plato's Atlantis.
Now I shall begin my attack on my opponent's arguments.
1.The Minoan civilization existed
I am not going to even argue this because it did exist on Crete.
2.Atlantis was the Minoan civilization.
Plato says Atlantis was in front of the Pillars of Hercules and facing Gibraltar (around 36�8′N 5�21′W). Plato depicts Atlantis sinking into the ocean. Literally sinking into the ocean. Crete still exists, which means Create has not sunk into the ocean. My opponent wishes to take Plato literally as depicted by his second rebuttal, yet, also does not want to literally believe anything Plato wrote. So if Plato is creating a "genuine communication of historical fact" then, we must also assume Plato is genuinely communicating factual information about Atlantis's demise, literally, sinking into the ocean. Furthermore, "Plato tells us Atlantis definitely conquered [Algeria] at one stage" (1) On the other hand, if the Minoan's were the Atlantians they would have conquered Algeria also, here's the thing "no evidence exists for a Minoan army, or for Minoan domination of peoples outside Crete." (2) My opponent is assuming Plato was conveying a historical truth, yet, if he was, then since Atlantis conquered Algeria, then Crete would have had to also, since, they are the same. Crete did not, thus they cannot be the same. In Plato's dialogues, it is an uncontested fact that Atlantis had a powerful army and navy (they did conquer a country). According to history, the Minoans did not have an army, just a navy. Thus, if we hold Plato is writing about history, the Minoan's were not the Atlantians.
3.Therefore, Atlantis existed
"As I have said before, I am not arguing that Atlantis was a separate continent in the Atlantic, or even underwater."
But, since Plato is conveying a historical truth, Atlantis must have literally sunk. Unless you want to hold the position that it is nothing more than an allegory.
"Plato states that Atlantis had an "extent greater than that of Libya and Asia" and was located in the "Pillars of Heracles." […]"
An important aspect of a historical event is where it occurred. My opponent basically is saying Plato is a bad historian. If that is true, why should we take any of his stories as historical fact? We should not. If we do hold this as historical fact, then, we must also take what Plato said was the right geographic size as fact. I'll be generous; I'll grant that Atlantis is the size of the Iberian peninsula. Even then, it cannot fit where Plato said it was. Geography is an important part of history, if my opponent wishes to take Plato's dialogues as historical documents then they must also accept the geography as historical.
1.Size and location
"since Plato was actually describing the Minoan civilization, the size of the landmass Plato describes can be taken as a historical mistake in the discussion of the dialogues." Compared to "Plato's tone does not resemble that of a parable or allegory, but rather that of genuine communication of historical fact."
So which is it? An exaggerated tale or historical fact? My opponent is basically saying here that Plato exaggerated or just made up every single solitary aspect of Atlantis. If this is true, then basically nothing Plato says about Atlantis is correct and so why exactly are we debating this if we are just going to go through some broad generalizations that fit my opponents argument but, say anything else is wrong. I mean I could say the same, Plato was exaggerating or lying about the points that Atlantis was a naval sea power or existed by the Pillars of Hercules. He was also underexageratting the size, in fact it is about the size of North America and Russia combined. Therefore, geographically it could not have existed. This is ridiculous…my opponent has provided no reason for us to believe Plato was wrong about some things but, right about others. I mean "Plato was adamant that the island had sunk in the Atlantic Ocean, and equally adamant that the story was absolutely true." (3)
Stories such as the Odyssey and the Iliad were portrayed as if actual events…but, obviously, were not. Atlantis could be the same. And according to Occam's razor, an allegory is the more logical explanation.
If Plato got this wrong, why couldn't the entire story be false? He could have gotten it all wrong. At this point my opponent is just picking and choosing what he wants to be right. Even if there was a little exaggeration, he would not exaggerate by 5000 years. That would be too big of a stretch.
I thank my opponent for his thoughtful response to my argument. I will now defend my argument and move on to rebuttals.
But firstly, I would like to point out that source 1 of my opponent’s argument is from a walkthrough of the excellent LucasArts video game Fate of Atlantis, which is where my username comes from. I now have more respect for my opponent ^^
Defense of my Minoan claim as a whole
My opponent states,“the Atlantis my opponent and I are talking about is the one SPECIFICALLY described by Plato in the Timaeus and the Critias. [...]This means it is presupposed that any geographic and historical events envisoned by Plato are correct otherwise, it would not be Plato's Atlantis.” I am not going to call semantics on my opponent, but what I meant in that definition is that we were not talking about Stargate: Atlantis or the Atlantis space shuttle or anything like that – we were talking about an ancient culture which became a mighty civilization and then was destroyed.
In my defense, however, I do believe I can argue that the Minoans were Atlantis based on this definition. We are discussing whether the subject of the dialogues existed; if I can prove that Plato was describing the Minoan civilization (with historical errors), then I still fit this definition because it is still the city Plato describes, even if major details are off. For instance, if I wrote a book describing a ruler who conquered vast lands but was then killed by his friends on the Ides of March, one can still argue I am describing Julius Caesar even if I proceed to list historical details that do not correlate with actual fact.
Atlantis was the Minoan civilization.
My opponent argues that based on my response, “we must also assume Plato is genuinely communicating factual information about Atlantis's demise, literally, sinking into the ocean.” My opponent is correct in that Plato describes Atlantis as sinking into the ocean: “[…] the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared, and was sunk beneath the sea.”1 He also states that I am contradicting myself by picking what to choose as true. No – I am merely saying that because of historiographical errors, we can assume much of Plato’s tale is incorrect, but this does not mean the story has no truth whatsoever. My argument is based off the skeleton outline of Plato’s Atlantis, the only parts which we can assume are actually true (the rise, trade, and fall of the civilization). As for my rebuttal 2, I was only seeking to prove that Plato’s tone was that of a historian and not a philosopher; I was responding to an argument about the motivation behind Plato’s writing (that of history and not philosophy) rather than the description themselves.
My opponent then goes on to explain: “[…] since Atlantis conquered Algeria, then Crete would have had to also, since, they are the same. Crete did not, thus they cannot be the same.” My opponent argues that the Minoans had no army. However, the Minoans had well-established military bases on at least seven islands, including Thera,2 as well as a dominant navy, “the power of which is acclaimed by Greek historians.”3 The Greek historian Thoucydides wrote of the Minoan navy, “And the first person known to us by tradition as having established a navy is Minos [the Cretan king from which the Minoans get their name]. He made himself master of what is now called the Hellenic sea, and ruled over the Cyclades, into most of which he sent the first colonies, expelling the Carians and appointing his own sons governors; and thus did his best to put down piracy in those waters, a necessary step to secure the revenues for his own use.”4 Moreover, it is documented that the Minoans reached North Africa. The Minoans had a well-documented co-evolution with the Egyptians.5
My opponent then claims that “[…] it is an uncontested fact that Atlantis had a powerful army and navy…” However, this is not true. Plato describes Atlantis as a naval power. On Atlantis’s ports, Plato describes, “[…] there were guard-houses at intervals for the body-guard, the more trusted of whom had their duties appointed to them in the lesser zone, which was nearer the Acropolis; while the most trusted of all had houses given them within the citadel, and about the persons of the kings. The docks were full of triremes and naval stores, and all things were quite ready for use.”1 The Atlanteans had a navy and no documentation of an army; the Minoans had a navy and no documentation of an army.
Therefore, Atlantis existed.
My opponent seems to think that either we must take a literal account of every specific detail Plato describes or assume that the entire story was nothing more than an allegory. I am arguing that because Plato uses a factual tone in his discussion, he is not creating an allegory; however, because of the passing of the story through many generations as described in the text itself, we cannot trust every aspect, either.
I am saying Plato was a bad historian, as was Homer or Herodotus. However, this does not necessarily mean the events, locations, or people they described never happened or existed. For instance, Homer describes the Trojan War in the Iliad, and this was thought to be mythical among historians for quite a while – until the city of Troy was found by German archeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1873.6 Homer described what many thought was a fictional place in a purely fictional work; however, Troy has been found, and there is evidence for the Trojan War, but that does not necessarily mean we should trust the legend of Helen or the divine intervention described in the Iliad.
Again, I am arguing that Plato was a bad historian, his chronicle of Atlantis was based on a story from Solon who originally received it from Egyptian kings1 – which is interesting because as aforementioned the Minoans had an established relationship with the Egyptians. However, this historiographical error does not mean we should dismiss the entire tale as legend.
Rebuttal 1: Size and location
Plato’s tone of historical fact does not necessarily mean that everything he said was historical fact. I am merely showing that Plato was not telling a legend but, as you quote later on in your response, “adamant that the story was absolutely true.”7 This does not necessarily mean that his entire story was absolutely true, just that the basis of it at least was, which is again what I am basing my argument on. Historical error can account for the mistakes in the passing of legend by word of mouth. As stated before, exaggeration often takes place especially in the works of Greek historians such as Herodotus.
Rebuttal 2: Philosophical point
I find it amusing my opponent used the Iliad and Odyssey as an example of supposed obvious fiction masquerading as history. As I have already shown, Schliemann discovered the legendary city of Troy in the nineteenth-century, but this does not necessarily mean the entire Iliad is true.
To reiterate, Plato’s tone was historical, but we should be cautious when following his description as tales passed by word-of-mouth can often result in the corruption of historical truth. This does not, however, mean Plato was creating an allegory or parable.
Rebuttal 3: Destruction date
My opponent claims that I am picking and choosing what is right or wrong. I am, however, merely following the frame of Plato’s story and not the detail as we cannot completely trust his account as the total truth – as evident by other historians such as Herodotus or Homer. Details such as the size of Atlantis, the date of Atlantis, etc., would be easily misconstrued. Therefore, we should follow only the basics of Plato’s story, which are again the rise of a Greek-esque civilization, its expansive trade and influence, and its eventual destruction due to some cataclysm.
I now turn it over to my opponent for the final round.
Attack on Minoan Claim as a whole
Exactly. Details matter, if the details described the person as a ruthless man who lived during the 10th century. Yes, you can still make the argument it describes Julius Ceasar but, it will not be accurate at all. You can make the argument about anything you would like. That does not mean the argument carries any weight. Plato wrote X, if the Minoan civilization was Y. How can it be Atlantis? The only reason anyone knows of Atlantis is because of the major details, the massive, the fact it was a civilization in the 9th century, etc. There would be no reason to write about the civilization especially, I mean Plato was not a historian, he was a philosopher. The story of Atlantis had to have some philosophical importance, or just be so very outlandish for Plato to even begin to write about it. History was left to Herodotus.
Atlantis == Minoan civilization
"I am merely saying that because of historiographical errors, we can assume much of Plato's tale is incorrect, but this does not mean the story has no truth whatsoever."
My opponent claims that much of Plato's tale is incorrect. Fine, I'll concede this point. But, How does this work in my opponent's favor? If Plato was wrong about Atlantis why should we assume Atlantis existed? We should not.
"My argument is based off the skeleton outline of Plato's Atlantis, the only parts which we can assume are actually true (the rise, trade, and fall of the civilization)."
But, Atlantis, by definition, contains those events which have to be proven. I mean the only reason anyone knows of Atlantis is because it did sink beneath the ocean in one night. That is a major part of the lore. Another major part of the lore is a technologically advanced civilization. Should we just ignore major parts of the story so it fits my opponent's argument? Because that is what my opponent is doing.
The fact is, my opponent provided no evidence of the Minoans conquering Algeria, which is major, while, in myth, the Atlantians did. The conquering of a foreign people is extremely important. And is part of that "skeleton outline." The Atlantean's apparently conquered great swaths of land as far. In many of these places, there is no record of Minoan civilization. If Plato was totally, then, why should we hold anything Plato says as fact? We should not.
"I am arguing that because Plato uses a factual tone in his discussion, he is not creating an allegory"
Once again, I reiterate, the Odyssey, is in no way shape or form, real. My opponent has not even gone down that path to prove it's real, yet, it is told as if it was historical fact. We can safely assume that there is a deeper point to the story. Unless my opponent wishes to argue that the ten year return journey occurred and that many of the mythical beasts existed we can safely say much of it is allegorical. The Odyssey, by Homer, is nothing more than a great legend to make a point.
"Passing of the story through many generations as described in the text itself, we cannot trust every aspect, either."
My opponent basically says the final derived story of Atlantis was the resultant of "whisper down the lane." But, if we hold this true we can hypothesis anything about what the beginning truth was. The ancient Egyptian's could have been passing down a mythological, allegorical, warning. My opponent has not proven Atlantis existed without a doubt.
"this historiographical error does not mean we should dismiss the entire tale as legend"
If the final product is resultant from the "whisper down the lane" effect, why should we not dismiss the entire tale as legend? I mean if the 1) the dates wrong, 2) the geographic location and size is wrong, 3) everything which makes Atlantis…Atlantis is wrong, then what are you left with? A civilization which existed sometime in history which is a great naval power and fell due to some event, you basically have described almost every collapsed power from the beginning of civilization until present day. It would be ridiculous to assume they are all Atlantis.
Defense 1: Size/Location
It is true, Greek historians did exaggerate some. But, they would never think of exaggerating to the point where saying an island the size of Crete is actual the size of the Iberian Peninsula or the size of Libya and Asia combined. That is just too much of a stretch to argue a tiny island is, in fact, continent. Same thing with the date, Plato describes Atlantis as existing circa 9000 BCE. The Minoan's existed circa 2000 BCE. Unless you are flat out saying Plato lied there is an entirely implausible 7000 year "exaggeration."
Defense 2: Philosophy
My opponent may have shown the Trojan War occurred. But, they have not shown in any way shape or form, that the 10 year return journey depicted in the Odyssey occurred. It is more logical to think the Odyssey did not happen and is merely showing some point, just as it is more logical to assume Atlantis never existed and was just showing a point.
Defense 3: Destruction date
My opponent is picking and choosing what is right and wrong. They pick the skeleton of the story to be right. And anything that makes Atlantis…Atlantis to be wrong. Atlantis is what it is because of entirely illogical propositions shown throughout Plato's dialogues.
I would now like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate. It has been a fun debate for me. :D
I thank my opponent for his arguments and will now continue with the debate. This will be my final round of rebuttals.
Defense of my Minoan claim as a whole
In response to my defense of the entire Minoan-Atlantean correlation, my opponent replies: “You can make the argument about anything you would like. That does not mean the argument carries any weight.” My opponent is correct – this does not explicitly mean the argument carries any weight. However, providing evidence certainly reinforces an argument. I could claim that the man who was stabbed was Jesus, but without any substantial evidence, this argument would fail – there needs to be actual, considerable evidence for a correlation between the Minoans and the Atlanteans; I have provided extensive examples throughout my argument of an actual connection of the stories of Minoa and Atlantis, which, as I will show, my opponent has not properly refuted.
Atlantis was the Minoan civilization.
My opponent makes the concession that “much of Plato’s tale was incorrect.” My opponent asks how this works in my favor, and then continues to argue that if parts of Plato’s tale was incorrect, why should the entire tale hold any weight? As I have stated before, Plato was speaking with a historical tone, was describing a Greek-esque civilization that rose before any other civilization they knew of, traded and built a navy, and then fell suddenly due to a cataclysm.
The Minoans, a direct precursor to Hellenic civilization, rose before any other European civilization,1 traded and built a navy, as I have shown before, and then fell due to the eruption of the volcano on the island of Thera, which also sent a tsunami upon the island of Crete. These parallels are astounding and must be considered.
My opponent goes on to argue that I must prove the sinking and advanced technology of Atlantis in order to prove my Minoan claim as a whole. Although these details could have been part of the historiographical error, I feel the need to point out that the Minoans were wiped out due to the Theran explosion, “likely have generated an even larger tsunami and pyroclastic flows that traveled much farther over the surface of the sea.”2 The complete sinking under the water was obviously an exaggeration.
As for the North African reach, I have shown that the Minoans actually did have a powerful navy which was known to have traveled as far south as Egypt, in northern Africa.3 The Minoans also were known to have traveled west, as they reached Spain.4 Algeria is, of course, a very specific location, and the record of their actual exploits in North Africa was recorded as Algeria when it may have in fact just meant the North African region as a whole; or, even, this could just be another historiographical error due to word-of-mouth legend.
My opponent has seemingly dropped the Iliad as I have proven places and events in the Iliad, such as Troy and the Trojan War, have archaeological evidence to support their existence and occurrence. In fact, a University of Minnesota research team reported, “The reality of Homer’s description of place, event and topography correlated with geologic investigation helps show that the ‘Iliad’ is not just a legend but regularly consistent with paleogeographic reconstruction.”5 Though parts of the Iliad are obviously legend and exaggeration, such as the “face that launched a thousand ships” bit, it is safe to say that the places and events of the Iliad are rooted in historical fact.
He now moves on to the Odyssey, saying, “[…] the Odyssey, is in no way shape or form, real. My opponent has not even gone down that path to prove it's real, yet, it is told as if it was historical fact.” Odysseus could not have possibly escaped monsters such as Polyphemus and Charybdis, and met Greek deities such as Aeolus, correct? No, I agree. Parts of the Odyssey are completely fictional. However, just as I have been arguing this entire time, each of these stories has a historical basis. Because the Odyssey is more of a legendary one-man journey than a major historical conflict, the references to historical fact are more minute, but there are still instances where the Odyssey has factual basis.
For instance, the monsters of the Odyssey were based on fossils found by the Greeks. The Cyclops, for instance, “When fossil elephant bones turned up [in Sicily] in the 5th century B.C., Empedocles interpreted them as Cyclops-bones….In the 14th century A.D., Boccaccio repeated the identification, citing Empedocles.”6 Moreover, significant astronomical events that took place in the Odyssey, however obscure, have been pinpointed in historical context, such as a possible total solar eclipse in 1178 BC.7 Then, we must remember, there are also the actual islands mentioned such as Odysseus’s home of Ithaca as well as other Greek islands. As anyone can see, there is factual truth in even the most exaggerated of stories. With this in mind, it is not much of a stretch to say the idea of Atlantis was based in reality, however divergent the story may have become later.
My opponent lastly states: “[…] if the 1) the dates wrong, 2) the geographic location and size is wrong, 3) everything which makes Atlantis…Atlantis is wrong, then what are you left with?” You are left with, as I have stated, the mere outline of Atlantis, which is all we can trust. An ancient, naval, Greek-esque power which rose, traded around the Mediterranean, and fell due to a maritime catastrophe. There is only one civilization that fits this description: the Minoans.
Rebuttal 1: Size and location
My opponent humbly concedes that Greek historians exaggerated; he has been reduced to disputing the magnitude of this exaggeration. All I have to do is point out that an actual estimate of the perimeter of the city of Babylon’s walls was 17 miles; Herodotus exaggerated to a total 56 miles.8 Herodotus later exaggerated the number of Greek warships destroyed in a storm from an actual estimate of 400 to almost 7200.9 There is really nowhere Greek historians did not exaggerate. Again, there is no reason to argue Plato would not make the same far-reaching exaggerations when relaying the history of the Minoan peoples.
Rebuttal 2: Philosophy
My opponent again graciously concedes that the Trojan War as described by Homer in the Iliad actually did occur. He then goes on to further the claim that the Odyssey never happened; I have shown that while most of the information in the Odyssey is untrue, there are key historical and geographic points in the Odyssey that have been found by historians to be based in truth, such as the Cylopean interpretation of elephant bones, the actual astronomical occurrence of a total solar eclipse, and the reality of Greek islands described in the work.
Rebuttal 3: Destruction date
Again, I am accused of picking and choosing what to believe and not believe. I am arguing based on a skeleton outline of Plato’s Atlantis. Just as a historian should only look at the major events of the Iliad, such as the Trojan War, rather than the overstated described size of the forces or the inflated, romantic causes of the event, a historian should only look at the big picture of Atlantis – to reiterate, “an ancient, naval, Greek-esque power which rose, traded around the Mediterranean, and fell due to a maritime catastrophe.”
I, of course, had the Burden of Proof in this debate. I had the Burden to show that Atlantis existed. I have shown that:
My opponent was unable to refute my evidence. Therefore, I have shown that Atlantis existed.
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